Counter Cultures

Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940
Author: Susan Porter Benson
The classic study of work, consumerism, and gender relations
Paper – $33
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1988
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About the Book

The luxurious appearance and handsome profits of American department stores from 1890 to 1940 masked a three-way struggle among saleswomen, managers, and customers for control of the selling floor. Counter Cultures explores the complex nature and contradictions of the conflict in an arena where class, gender, and the emerging culture of consumption all came together. The result is a fascinating illumination of the emotional labor of the workplace and the work-culture of consumerism that still defines the workday for millions of Americans.

About the Author

Susan Porter Benson (d. 2005) taught at the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Connecticut, and Yale University. She is the author of Household Accounts: Working-class Family Economies in the Interwar United States.



"A path-breaking and imaginative social history. Benson has made an original and sophisticated contribution to the study of the work process in the service sector."--Journal of American History

"Advances our understanding of the history of women and work, and it does so in an engaging way that should command the attention not only of historians, but of a general readership as well."--Women's Review of Books


Winner of the Chicago Women in Publishing Award, "Relevance to Women's Issues," 1987.