Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

History of U.S. Consumer Culture Classical Liberalism from Adam Smith to Micky Mouse

Dr Roxanne Hovland, Joyce Wolburg.

This paper examines the historical development of American consumer culture. It begins with a timetable of events that shaped contemporary consumer culture. A definition of consumer culture is provided. The paper then explains how these historical events have led to a culture and an identity based largely on consumption. In turn, the paper shows how the interaction of corporate promotional strategy and consumer psychology led to the very world de Tocqueville predicted in the early 1800s. Moreover, although many people think of the U.S. as being the quintessential consumer culture, the events that led to this culture were global in nature and resulted in the spread of consumer culture throughout much of the world.


Dr Roxanne Hovland  (United States)
Professor of Advertising and Public Relations
School of Advertising and Public Relations
The University of Tennessee

Joyce Wolburg  (United States)

Marquette University

  • Consumer Culture
  • History of American Marketing

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)