Against the Grain

Challenging Consumer Capitalism

Cultural and media workers have a disproportionate impact on how other workers see themselves and the world they live in, whether it’s by selling them something or presenting them with dissenting views. As historian Shannan Clark argues, there was a time when a great many cultural workers saw consumption itself as a political act. Such workers in New York City, the hub of publishing, journalism, and much media production in the mid-20th century, showed a remarkable sense of solidarity and creativity in envisioning an alternative to consumer capitalism, from the Communist origins of Consumer Reports to replacing the throw away culture of cheap goods with affordable Modernist design. (Full length interview.)

Resources:

Shannan Clark, The Making of the American Creative Class: New York’s Culture Workers and Twentieth-Century Consumer Capitalism Oxford University Press, 2020

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