By Donncha Marron (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0230101518

ISBN-13: 9780230101517

ISBN-10: 1349378895

ISBN-13: 9781349378890

ISBN-10: 2720093327

ISBN-13: 9782720093326

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Extra info for Consumer Credit in the United States: A Sociological Perspective from the 19th Century to the Present

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Gullible, Ignorant, and Illiterate”: Installment Credit and Deficient Wills Within this post–Civil War period, credit itself began to undergo a rapid expansion in terms of its geographic spread, the merchandising lines within which it was offered and the types of people who used it (Seligman, 1927; Nugent, 1939; Calder, 1999). Whereas before, it was exclusively for the financing of significant durable items of consumption like furniture and pianos, by the 1870s, its use extended to such relatively ephemeral household items as bedding, dishes, and kitchenware as well as for the purchase of suits, coats, and dresses on such terms as one-fifth down payment and eight weekly installments.

These stores themselves did not offer such credit—in fact, they prized themselves on their cash only policies—but their competitive commercial strength forced many single-line Consuming by Installments ● 45 retailers into offering installment terms. Such credit also allowed individuals to attain a higher standard of consumption, particularly for clothing. With the increasing preponderance of mass produced clothes and in new urban milieus beset by f lux and shifting, uncertain social relations and class identities, credit allowed increasing numbers to adopt the exterior aspects of a higher social class within a context that increasingly grounded judgment on appearance (Calder, 1999: 169–71; see also Boorstin, 1973; Horowitz, 1985).

The gradual institution of the Uniform Small Loan Law by states thus freed defined forms of personal borrowing and lending but simultaneously crafted a channel that continuously shaped the course that such transactions could take in the interests of a wider social harmony. * * * Pawnbroking represents one of the earliest, most institutionalized, forms of personal lending and images of the three balls, furtive or feckless pledgers, and shelves of goods stacked in gloomy surrounds soak much of the imagination of early industrial life.

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Consumer Credit in the United States: A Sociological Perspective from the 19th Century to the Present by Donncha Marron (auth.)


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