Crises and consumption

Authored by: Sebastian Koos

Routledge Handbook on Consumption

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138939387
eBook ISBN: 9781315675015
Adobe ISBN: 9781317380900


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When the recession hit the small community of Marienthal, the main industry had to close its gates, leaving most workers unemployed, fully depending on public support by the welfare state. The crises had severe impacts on life in general and on consumption in particular. The unemployed, mostly men, would walk slower, spent less time in public clubs, changed their diet and borrowed fewer books from the public library (Jahoda, Lazarsfeld, and Zeisel, 2002 [1933]). Families needed to develop coping strategies to provide for their basic needs. The seminal “sociography of an unemployed community”, published in 1933 by Marie Jahoda, Paul Lazarsfeld and Hans Zeisel, today reads like a timely description of how economic crises impact the life of people. This hallmark study is a blueprint of how macro-economic shocks translate into personal hardship for the people of a community. The recent 2008 global financial crises, followed by the 2010 fiscal crises of many European states, have been the largest economic shocks since the Great Depression of the 1930s. They once again showed the detrimental effect of disruptive economic events for the everyday lives of citizens.

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