How do technological and cultural developments interact to affect consumption? What do ways of using household goods in specific historical contexts tell us about individual and collective identities? Do changes in consumption patterns emancipate social groups or reinforce existing structures of power? The 'economic miracle' experienced by West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s had profound effects on everyday life and gender relations. This book reflects the growing need for historical research on leisure and consumption in the modern period and provides a very entertaining and carefully researched study of ideas about women, men, housework, consumption, and modernity. It contrasts the virtual reality presented by advertisements with the important qualitative changes in household appliances and how they affected everyday life and gender roles. New products claimed to make housework easier, but the idea of substituting money for labor contrasted with the ideal of the thrifty, hard-working housewife and a clear division of gender roles.
The author examines a broad range of issues encompassing the transformation of household appliances from luxuries to necessities, the threat of consumer debt, men and housework, women and technology, and labor and leisure in the modern household. This timely book represents a significant contribution to the following areas: material culture, German history, women's history, sociology, media/cultural studies and anthropology.
'The 1950s advertising images illustrated in From Rugs to Riches: Housework, Consumption and Modernity in Germany reveal that the home, and in particular the kitchen, had become a stage for the display of consumer durables as well as for the enactments of family relationships.' Journal of Contemporary History