In a function to obtaining a good rather

contemporary society, humans have developed a tendency to move expeditiously
throughout all facets of life. Being especially true nowadays, consumption
expenditure is transpiring further from brick-and-mortar establishments and
being substituted with online shopping. However, in contrast to the status quo,
a time frame existed where acquiring goods would require different social
interactions with regards to an individual’s hierarchal class, gender, and
income. Helen Berry discusses this in her scholarly article, Polite Consumption: Shopping in
Eighteenth-Century England.

expresses her discontent with the lack of discussion that historiographers have
had on the subject, solely focusing on material flow of goods. Viewing consumerism
in Hanoverian England from an alternate perspective, Berry argues that further
attention must be brought upon politeness as a function to obtaining a good
rather than the good itself (376). I agree with the stance took by Berry, and she
executes the argument by delving into consumer shopping behavior – specifically
for middle and upper-class residents – in London. The distinction made sheds a
light on the recurring theme of class, as despite Britain leading global
industrialization, it remained a very hierarchal society. Berry eloquently
illustrates this in a manner, suggesting that shopping is a lifestyle enjoyed
only by the elite, while the servants – comprising of most of the population – only
focus on material goods (379).

PhD students on women’s history, it is anticipated that Berry would discuss the
lifestyle endured by women in the 18th century. To my surprise, she
discusses them in an overwhelmingly positive tone, talking about how shopping
was integrated into a women’s daily routine. Berry does a good job of framing the
concept of shopping to be perceived as a social recreation rather than an
activity carried out individually. Though it is incomparable to today’s standards,
the rights sustained by women for the 18th century provide a glimpse
of England’s liberalism. In my opinion, the growth in women’s freedom also
leads to vast economic potential, as an increase in urbanization allows England
to transform