When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middle-Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store

Paperback | May 1, 1991

byElaine S. Abelson

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This book focuses on middle-class urban women as participants in new forms of consumer culture. Within the special world of the department store, women found themselves challenged to resist the enticements of consumption. Many succumbed, buying both what they needed and what they desired,but also stealing what seemed so readily available. Pitted against these middle-class women were the management, detectives, and clerks of the department stores. Abelson argues that in the interest of concealing this darker side of consumerism, women of the middle class, but not those of theworking class, were allowed to shoplift and plead incapacitating illness--kleptomania. The invention of kleptomania by psychiatrists and the adoption of this ideology of feminine weakness by retailers, newspapers, the general public, the accused women themselves, and even the courts reveals the wayin which a gender analysis allowed proponents of consumer capitalism to mask its contradictions.

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From the Publisher

This book focuses on middle-class urban women as participants in new forms of consumer culture. Within the special world of the department store, women found themselves challenged to resist the enticements of consumption. Many succumbed, buying both what they needed and what they desired,but also stealing what seemed so readily avail...

Elaine S. Abelson is at Eugene Lang College.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 0.98 inPublished:May 1, 1991Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195071425

ISBN - 13:9780195071429

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"The outlines of a kleptomania story have been adumbrated, but a full-fledged treatment of the subject has been wanting until the publication of Elaine Abelson's excellent and readablee account of shoplifiting in the Victorian American department store."--Victorian Studies