I Shop in Moscow
Advertising and the Creation of Consumer Culture in Late Tsarist Russia
NIU Series in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Published by: Cornell University Press
334 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm, 50 illustrations
- ISBN: 9780875806488
- Published: June 2011
This groundbreaking book is the first to study the cultural history of advertising in imperial Russia. In the first part of the book, West describes the development of advertising as an industry, discussing responses from both the business community and the state. The emergence of Russian advertising and consumer culture played a formative role in unsettling traditional tsarist society by promoting the aspirations of self-fulfillment through consumption. Encouraging a consumerist ethic at odds with an autocratic society, advertising spoke the language of both tradition and modernity, simultaneously perpetuating and undermining the values of the past. The rise of pervasive, mass-circulation advertising in tsarist society created paradoxes that reflect the tensions in late imperial Russia—a peasant society swiftly becoming a world industrial power, a modernizing economy within a patriarchal culture, and a population becoming consumers and citizens while still subjects of the tsar. West presents a cultural study of central themes that form the advertising messages themselves, including consumption as a progressive and civilizing force, the deliberate creation of "consumer" as a new identity, the perpetuation and reformulation of gender roles, and the appropriation and commodification of Russian cultural motifs. In an analysis of the advertisements themselves, West incorporates numerous illustrations from the mass-circulation press and the poster collection of the Russian National Library, many of which are difficult to access and unknown to most scholars. I Shop in Moscow offers an unexplored perspective for anyone interested in the comparative study of consumer culture and advertising. West's original study will appeal to scholars and students of advertising and Russian history, as well as those working in gender studies, folklore, and cultural history.
"West's discussion of the role that advertising played in the development of consumption-oriented individualism contributes to the very scant knowledge available on change at the level of personal identity in late imperial Russia."~Louise McReynolds, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
""This fascinating and beautifully-written manuscript offers readers a sophisticated account of the paradoxes of Russian consumer culture in the late Imperial period. It complicates older historiography on economic developments during this time-which has focused overwhelmingly on agrarian policies and state-sponsored industrialization. It contributes to a growing literature on modern consumerism in Imperial Russia. And it provides a nuanced reading of the intersection of gender, class, and national identity with the burgeoning commercial sphere. The text's gender analysis moves beyond a focus on ideas about femininity and female gender norms to incorporate constructs of masculinity and male gender norms. This is a significant and welcome intervention."—Amy Randall, Santa Clara University"
"This richly researched and beautifully illustrated monograph deserves a readership beyond its appeal to historians of consumer culture. The analysis of advertising in the late imperial Russian context is sustained and convincing. It draws upon a long- and well-established scholarly tradition, most notably from Walter Benjamin."~Ian D. Thatcher, European History Quarterly