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Title: Young men at Oxford (1830-80) : routes into consumption and debt
Author: Chaouche, Sabine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 2948
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Young men's consumption, especially that of students at Oxford, has not received much attention from scholars although they participated fully in the economic life of the University town by becoming customers, indeed often compulsive shoppers, as numerous Chancellor's Court and bankruptcy court cases suggest. My thesis provides a window onto male students' consumer culture and indebtedness, especially their link to the 'credit system'. 'Conspicuous consumption' and overspending was a marker of undergraduate culture which had two dialectical dynamics: students tried to position themselves in their community by displaying the signs and habits of the elite; and, simultaneously they went through a process of individualization, expressing particular tastes and their own extravagance. These processes reflect how students learnt their future roles as rulers by managing their private interests and public image, but also by developing a consumer experience, a majority of them becoming prudent economic agents. This dissertation explores consumption from both an individual and collective perspective. In particular it examines juvenile agency, going beyond the clichés of the 'great masculine renunciation' and the idea of prominent female shopping, reconstructing the different paths undertaken by young men, from their first steps into consumption, to consumption routine. It builds on diverse disciplines including social and economic history, retailing and advertising, education, law and gender studies to tackle a gap in the history of consumption, capitalism and trade in Oxford. Between 1830 and 1880, student consumerism was intertwined with the university reforms and the rise of competition between tradesmen. This study assesses education costs and budget constraints; commercial practices such as 'touting freshmen'; students' social background and insolvency; the use of long-term credit as a tool to drive consumption; and the formation of male identities through the purchase and display of different goods.
Supervisor: Humphries, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of consumption ; Cultural studies ; Student ; Business ; Masculinity ; Credit ; Oxford ; Trade ; Gender ; Consumption