Subversive Consumption: Nineteenth Century Irish Immigrants to America

Scott, Linda (2009) Subversive Consumption: Nineteenth Century Irish Immigrants to America. Irish Marketing Review, 20 (2). pp. 6-26.

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Irish immigrants to America during the second half of the nineteenth century presented significant challenge to the existing Protestant ruling elite. The provenance, religion and behaviour of the arriving Catholic Irish stood in particular opposition to the morality of the Puritan descendents, an ancient enemy of the Irish, who claimed cultural hegemony over the new United States. The result was a contest of wills over the consumption of goods, public and private, religious and secular. This article seeks to chart historically this clash of religion, politics, gender, race and labour. In doing so, it approaches several issues of interest today. It reframes questions about whether consumption can be a subversive political behaviour, and calls into question schemas in cultural theory about the role of the ‘culture industry’. As the Irish eventually came to participate as fully as their ‘oppressors’ in the new market economy and its burgeoning consumer culture, the outcome of the narrative challenges us to rethink whether oppressed groups reach mainstream respectability as a total ‘sellout’ or as the legitimate ends of revolution.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Consumers; Consumption; Immigrants; Protestants; Elite; Hegemony
Subject(s): Entrepreneurship
Centre: Entrepreneurship Centre
Faculty of Marketing
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2012 17:24
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

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