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Needlework education and the consumer society
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The principal purpose of this essay is to research how the development of needlework education interacts and interconnects with consumption patterns. Iceland has been used as a case for this study but any country would be applicable. The point of departure is the assumption that when a society develops more and more into being a consumer society, the needlework education also will change – in drastic forms. And that tracing a development towards consumerism can be traced in the curricula regarding this specific subject. People’s changing attitude towards spending, wasting, and an extravagant living is an important feature which explains the shift between non-consumer societies to a consumer society. Society’s outlook on these features is best reflected by that policy the institutions society uses to form its citizens’ desirable (consumer) behavior. In understanding the development from a non-consumerist society to a consumer society the study on the Icelandic syllabi for needlework and textile education plays a prominent part. A presentation on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period of time in question has also been used in order to see the general increase of the standard of living and rise of consumerism in Iceland. Also numbers on trade and unemployment have been enclosed in order to give a more telling picture of the development and the results.

The spatial imprint of the development of the Icelandic educational system and the development of syllabi for the textile handicraft subject show that an established consumer society firstly can be found in Iceland somewhere between 1960 and 1977, thus slightly ensuing the most immediate period after the World War II. A society that educates its young ones to darn, mend, and knit with the explicit motive to help deprived homes and states that this is a necessary virtue for future housewives cannot rightly be called a consumer society. It is also worth mentioning that the subject was after this breakthrough also available for boys. Furthermore, this seems to coincide with the so called “haftatímanum”, the restriction era, which lasted from 1930 to 1960. During this time the Icelandic government controlled the market having an especially harsh policy on the import of consumer goods, with product rationing as a result.

Both of these two matters - the syllabi for the textile handicraft subject and the haftatímanum - had an anaesthetized impact on the development of the Icelandic consumer society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 66 p.
Keyword [en]
Consumption, consumerism, the consumer revolution, Iceland, knitting, darning, mending, needlework education, consumption history, women's history, curricula interpretation
National Category
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-213378OAI: diva2:681828
Available from: 2013-12-20 Created: 2013-12-20 Last updated: 2013-12-20Bibliographically approved

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