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Consumerism and its dissidents: a social history of white South Africa, c 1950s -1970s

In general South African historiography has been marked by constant emphasis on apartheid, black resistance and formal Afrikaner politics has. Important as these may be, it has led historians to neglect other simultaneous socio-economic undercurrents in society and assessing their wider impact. Whites are usually viewed as the agents of a repressive society during this period but, they too have a complex social history. For a fuller historical understanding of the South African social formation as a whole, internal and subterranean developments in white society, including the rejection of conspicuous consumption, should be taken equally seriously as those informing the larger issues in South Africa.
Empirically I have identified the following distinct topics I wish to pursue. (More will in all likelihood be added, as my research progresses.)
1. General growth of economy and consumerism
2. “One liter brandy, two liter coke and three liter Ford:” Class and the rise of a car culture
3. Whites at leisure : Holidays and Casinos
4. “Nearer my mall to thee”: The emergence of shopping malls
5. Hippie dissidents: Rosalind Bellingall and Ben Dekker.


Fellows involved in this project

South Africa

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