Thursday, September 22, 2011

Consumption in the 1890s

Consumption in the United States increased dramatically as new innovations in labor and factory work rose to the scene. With cheaper, faster labor becomes mass production. With mass production becomes lowered costs. With lowered costs, the poor who were normally not able to purchase nice clothing or products were able to scrap together enough cash to make purchases and feel for the first time a little more like the upper classes. However, in reference to this image, this family is gathered in front of a hotel, and, as it is a large family and all members appear to be in high-quality attire and are, presumably, on a vacation of sorts, I assume this particular family is well to do.

With that being said, even the wealthy presumably showed an increase in consumption with falling prices. Falling prices naturally attracts more consumers, as more people can buy more things, no matter their social class. This family in particular is all very well dressed - an important factor in 1890's consumerism. With falling prices particularly of clothing, just about everyone was in swank clothing and looking their best to prop them up more in the social ladder. Additionally, it is good to note that this family is very large - more people equals higher costs. Regardless, falling prices have made it possible for even the largest of families to do well for themselves.

Finally, I reiterate this family is seated in front of the Guild Hotel, presumably on vacation due to the nature of Winter Park at the time of being a vacation spot. Consumption doesn't have to be material goods to be considered a matter of consumption. Taking off time for vacationing in a hotel - which costs money - is also a flag to the increase in consumerism during the 1890s. The falling prices allowed those who did not have the money to live a life that made them feel as if they were in a better situation than they realistically were; and gave those with the money a less money-conscious mentality.

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