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Sophisticates or dupes? Attitudes toward food consumers in Edwardian Britain

Oxford University Press
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  • Hc Economic History And Conditions
  • Hd Industries. Land Use. Labor


In this article, we explore how reformers, manufacturers, and traders perceived British food consumers and the significance of those perceptions in debates about food quality and regulation. By considering basic commodities, our analysis extends a literature on consumption that is otherwise derived primarily from the study of luxury commodities, and it identifies conflicting images of the interests, competence, and concerns of early twentieth-century consumers. We find that discussions of appropriate policy involved competing interpretations of modernity and its implications for food consumers, and these discussions anticipated later twentieth-century debates.

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