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Les pauvres et la consommation

Abstract : The history of the poor since the development of the consumer society in the post-war period has been, first that of the increase in wealth and the access to comfort of the working class during the Trente Glorieuses (30-year period of economic growth). The champions of progress paid scant attention to the persistence of misery in shantytowns, considering those remaining in poverty to be ill-adapted to modernity. Added to this, neither worker’s organizations (trade unions and the Communist Party) nor social scientists took much interest in extreme poverty, engaged as they were in underlining the particularities of working-class consumption in order to prove the continued existence of social classes in the consumer society and to oppose those who predicted their disappearance. However, the economic crisis of the 1970s gave rise to an 'impoverished middle-class', which aspired to the mainstream standard of living but possessed only meager means to attain it. The poor became a consumer segment, characterized by weak purchasing power sometimes coupled with limited social and cultural skills with the result that they frequently had to pay more for access to the market, which had become a prerequisite to participation, however minimal, in social life.
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Jeanne Lazarus. Les pauvres et la consommation. Vingtième siècle. Revue d'histoire, Presses de Sciences Po, 2006, pp.137 - 152. ⟨hal-03173307⟩



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