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Engineered to SellEuropean Émigrés and the Making of Consumer Capitalism$
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Jan L. Logemann

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226660011

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226660295.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

Consumer Engineering: Challenges and Legacies

Consumer Engineering: Challenges and Legacies

(p.271) Consumer Engineering: Challenges and Legacies
Engineered to Sell

Jan L. Logemann

University of Chicago Press

By the 1970s, advertising and marketing efforts to engineer continuous growth in material consumption, in particular, became the focus of attacks on the postwar brand of consumer capitalism advanced by social theorists, public intellectuals and by a growing consumer movement on both sides of the Atlantic. Ironically, this transnational revolt against postwar marketing also drew on intellectual foundations laid by members of the same cohort of émigrés who had championed the rise of consumer engineering. In exile, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and other protagonists of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research were closely connected to the group around Lazarsfeld and their work in media and consumer research since the 1930s. More than merely an intellectual critique of consumer engineering, the 1960s and early 1970s witnessed the rise of a sustained transatlantic consumer movement. As the era of technocratic “high modernity” came to a close by the 1970s, so did the careers of many of the émigrés highlighted in this study.

Keywords:   Decline of Consumer Engineering, Consumer Movements, Theodor Adorno, Frankfurt School, Victor Gruen

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