Call for Papers: Rural History 2021 Session Proposal – The ‘Rural Consumer’

RHN 99/2020 | Call

Organiser: Henning Bovenkerk, Lehrstuhl für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Rural History 2021, 23–26 August 2021, Uppsala, Sweden

Call for Sessions deadline: 15 September 2020


Open Call:
The ‘Rural Consumer’ – Consumer Goods, Consumption, and Material Culture of Rural Households in Early Modern Europe

Participants sought for session at Rural History Conference 2021, August 23–26, Uppsala, Sweden. Session deadline is 15 September 2020, expressions of interest are welcome up to the 7 September. For more information or any questions, please contact Henning Bovenkerk,

Early modern Europe has experienced an expansion of consumer goods – triggered by the intensification of global trade. Thus, this period is considered – particularly in some of the highly commercialized north Atlantic neighbouring regions – an age of ‘consumer revolution’ (DE VRIES 2008, MCKENDRICK 1982). This process highly reflects in both an extension and a differentiation of the material culture of households, particularly regarding ‘New Luxuries’ and colonial goods. A comprehensive discussion has evolved about the emergence and the scope of these developments in different European and (North-)American regions, focused mainly on the urban middle and upper social classes (e.g. MARFANY 2011, OGILVIE 2010, SHAMMAS 1994). Despite these findings and the research on these subjects, the consumption of rural households in this period is still a neglected research topic (MAEGRAITH/MULDREW 2015). Therefore, the question of the emergence of the early modern ‘rural consumer’ is still open. It is crucial to ask for its historical context of origin on a regional scope by focusing on institutional, social, and socio-economic aspects as well on those of regarding the relation between centre/periphery. Particularly, a comparative European perspective on this regard is yet still missing.

The session aims to approach and contribute new insights in these questions by illuminating the consumption and change of material culture in agrarian societies. It focusses on the ‘rural consumer’ in different ways; e.g.: Which different social rural groups consumed new or globally traded consumer goods? Did households in the countryside have the opportunity to change their consumer behaviour? Did they have access to markets of consumer goods at all? Did the material culture of agrarian households change? Moreover, was there a ‘rural consumer revolution’?


The Rural History 2021 Call for Sessions can be found in RHN 61/2020.


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