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Consumer Capitalism: Politics, Product Markets, and Firm Strategy in France and Germany (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) [Hardcover]

by Gunnar Trumbull

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Book Description

May 4, 2006 0801443822 978-0801443824 1
"The unfettered marketplace, in which uncertainty rules and the admonition caveat emptor ('let the buyer beware') dictates each consumer decision, has today virtually disappeared. Consumers have become the focus of intensive economic policymaking designed to protect them from the risks and disappointments of the market. . . . Today, arguably no other economic actor in the advanced industrial countries—not the investor, not the worker, not the welfare recipient—enjoys a more thorough set of legal and institutional protections than the modern consumer when he or she enters the corner store."—from the IntroductionGunnar Trumbull investigates the origins of national systems of consumer protection in France and Germany, where, in the early 1970s, consumer groups and producers organized to advance their own ideas about the identity and interests of the affluent consumer. Through a comparison of eight areas of policy—product liability law, product safety standards and recall, misleading advertising, comparative product tests, product labeling, quality standards, consumer contracts, and pricing—Trumbull shows that different conceptions of the consumer interest emerged in the two countries. The result was the development of distinctive national consumption regimes, which have in turn influenced the market strategies of domestic producers. Trumbull's findings help to clarify distinctive national approaches to recent product crises—including cases of BSE and genetically modified foods. His research suggests that, in the age of consumer capitalism, national competitiveness may hinge not only on endowments of labor and capital, but also on the institutional forms of national consumption.

Editorial Reviews


"Consumer Capitalism will be a critical addition to the growing debate on the consumer as citizen and consumer protection policies. Gunnar Trumbull presents an insightful and thoughtful analysis on the origins of consumer protection regimes in France and Germany, and their influence on the development of consumer markets and producers. By basing his argument in detailed case studies, he shows how governments in France and Germany pursued different targets and objectives with the result that product labeling, product safety standards, product recall, consumer contracts, manufacturer liability, and advertising rules have greatly diverged. This is required reading for those who wish to understand why the European Union faces multiple hurdles when seeking to forge common standards for risk assessment and management and how it may succeed in bridging the existence of competing approaches to product regulations in order to build a genuine European consumer citizenship."—Paulette Kurzer, University of Arizona, author of Markets and Moral Regulation

About the Author

Gunnar Trumbull is an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Business School.

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