This article explores the contradictions inherent in the role of “citizen consumer” that emerged for French women in the decades of social and economic change following the Second World War. As inflation wracked the French economy and as planners and modernisers attempted to create a thriving mass-consumer society, the role of citizen consumer answered both the desires of planners and modernisers, and those of organisations hoping to empower women and improve family living conditions. These various groups – though perhaps motivated by different objectives – agreed on several things: that women consumers could have an ameliorative effect on the economy, both by curbing inflation and directing production toward family needs, and that women needed to be educated to assume this role. Thus, the prevailing rhetoric alternated between at once heralding the power of the woman consumer, and pointing to her need for education.
Learning to Consume in Europe in the 20th Century
Empowering and Disciplining Women Consumers in the Postwar Years (1944-1968)By Rebecca J. Pulju