History events at the IHR

Gender, life cycle and consumption: the purchasing patterns of Edward and Mary Leigh, 1730-1806

07 May 2013, 17:15 - 19:15

Event Type: Seminar


Jon Stobart (University of Northampton)



The pursuit of luxury has long been seen as a key element in the consumption practices of the elite: it marked their status and distinguished them from lower social groups. Much has been written on the gendered nature of this consumption, with men and women seen as performing different and complementary roles as consumers. When contrasting gendered patterns of spending, comparisons are usually drawn between married couples and are often formed on the basis of snapshots of much longer lives.

In this paper, I want to contrast the spending patterns of a brother and sister over their whole lifecourse. Evidence drawn from a large set of receipted bills suggests that their overall spending conformed with gender stereotypes. However, this general view obscures the large amount of common ground their shared, both in terms of the things they bought and where they acquired them. More importantly, I argue, both Edward and Mary’s spending patterns changed dramatically over the course of their lives as gender identities overlapped differentially with elite status. Only by paying due regard to lifecourse, then, can we fully appreciate the influences on and motivations for consumption practices.

Venue: Room 102 (Senate House, first floor)

Senate House
Malet Street 
London WC1E 7HU 

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Related Events: Life-Cycles History