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I Want That!: How We All Became Shoppers Hardcover – November 26, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (November 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060185112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060185114
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,043,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the Mall of America to e-commerce, it seems shopping is more than a casual activity for most Americans. Although some believe that the rise of advertising and strip malls have fostered slavish devotion to shopping where it didn't exist before, Hine posits that the acquisition of objects has a firm place in humanity's history. A columnist for Philadelphia magazine and the cultural critic who coined the term "populuxe," Hine offers fresh insight into why we shop and how we are in some ways born to do so. Throughout recorded time, he states, shopping has allowed people to show their position in society and to gain a sense of personal control over their surroundings. Given shopping's rich and enduring history, it makes sense that people in the developed world now have such a preponderance of products to buy, and that they're marketed to appeal not to our needs but our desire for acceptance, attractiveness and power. Hine is a jaunty writer who breaks down an unwieldy topic into a thoughtful cultural riff. Although he touches on shopping's psychological effects (especially with those who seem addicted to it), Hine mainly refrains from assigning a positive or negative judgment. Instead, he delivers a balanced and entertaining analysis of how we arrived at our shopping-drenched state, and what those ringing cash registers really say about us. Photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Philadelphia columnist Hine considers why we buy what we buy. With a six-city author tour.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Thomas Hine writes about American culture, history and design. His six books have dealt with such phenomena as product packaging, teenagers, fashion, interior design, and shopping. He has also contributed chapters to more than a dozen other books and exhibition catalogs, and served as multimedia editor of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. He was architecture and design critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer for 23 years, ending in 1996. He has also served as a guest curator or consultant to museum exhibitions in Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.

He got the inspiration for his first book "Populuxe: the Look and Life of Midcentury American" in 1978 when he visited Saudi Arabia as a Ford Foundation fellow. There he noticed that the Saudis" new houses incorporated many features of the exuberant, celebratory style of the America of his childhood. John Updike praised "Populuxe" as evidence of "a mischievously alert sensibility." His most recent book, "The Great Funk" (2007) is a sequel to "Populuxe," which chronicles the upsetting, and often liberating, collapse of America's post-World War II mentality.

Hine was born in Boston, grew up in Connecticut, and graduated from Yale. He has lived in Philadelphia since 1970.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book. The reviews were glowing and, as a former marketing professor, I was more than a little interested.
I Want That is a birds eye view of shopping, with pages devoted to everything from gift giving to mall design to deviant buying behavior. There's a history of shopping and a sociology of shopping. Each chapter -- and some of the headings -- could be the topic of a doctoral dissertation. Brevity in this case has become misleading and, frankly,
not very exciting. All the juicy stuff has been edited out!
For example, Hine devotes just a few pages to compulsive buying, yet there has been considerable research on this topic by marketing researchers as well as clinical psychologists. There are correlations with other forms of addiction, while Hine notes only gambling. There are degrees of compulsion that vary by person and situation.

The chapter on attention emphasizes that shoppers can judge without being judged. Hine suggests that friends who join the shopper may be judgmental, implying that friends decrease shopping; however, research shows that people who shop together buy more.
The author cites research that suggests people continue to follow traditional gender roles. The real story is the change. In fact, some observers believe retailing has been transformed by gender roles more than by any other factor. Why do stores stay open 24/7? Why do more teens do the family shopping these days? What about men who are self-described clothes horses? And while women still buy most Christmas gifts, we need too recognize the increasing numbers of single-person households and families who choose to spend Christmas on a cruise.
Anyone who says, "Wow -- a book on shopping! What a great idea!" will probably enjoy this book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Inquiring Mind on December 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rarely does one happen upon a sociological and economic analysis that is truly fun to read, as hard to put down as a good mystery, amusing, insightful. That is what is so amazing about I Want That. It is anthropology, and a sound analyis of why two-legged creatures have wanted to acquire since time when, and it is a real joy to read.
From the author's creation of the concept of 'buyosphere' onward (and this is the same observer who created the so-Fifties and so descriptive term for that era, Populuxe), you have to sit back and enjoy his perceptive analysis of our behavior and our culture. Read it as entertainment, read it as cultural introspection. Either way, it is illuminating, thoughtful - and fun.
More than worthwhile for the buying season - and after.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Pomeroy on August 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Hine's writing reveals a unique blend of history, marketing and pop culture savvy. Of course, anyone familiar with "Populuxe," his groundbreaking view of consumerism in the 1950's and early '60's, knows this full well.
"I Want That!" continues in that vein. Immensely readable, the book chronicles the history of shopping and consumer behavior, examining *why* humans have liked to shop over the centuries. Taking us as far back as the ancient Egyptians, Hine illustrates how politics, technology, transportation, geography and even religion have shaped our relationship with consumables and our methods of acquiring them. Even those of us who like to shop regard it as a rather mundane experience most of the time, but Hine shows how complex and significant the act of shopping truly is.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By roy christopher on March 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Columbus killed more Indians than Hitler did Jews, but on his birthday you get sales on shoes" --The Goats
What at first might seem mundane subject matter is made illuminating and interesting by Thomas Hine's engaging narrative, personal and historical examples, and downright deep digging. Excavating our culture of consumption from the perspectives of power, responsibility, discovery, self-expression, insecurity, attention, belonging, celebration, and convenience, Hine unearths the desires and rituals that have made us all shoppers in one sense or another. In the spirit of the quote above, I Want That! points out the fact that we "mix up reverence with consumption." Our every holiday is tied to purchases and a subsequent sale of some sort.
Are women born to shop? Do today's shoppers truly have choices? Why do we buy what we buy? All of these questions and more are answered and explained in a free-for-all spree of analysis of what Hine calls the 'buyosphere.' "The buyosphere," he writes, "is both a set of shopping opportunities and a state of mind. It encompasses the shopping streets of the city, the mall, the supermarket, the home shopping channels, advertisements, and the Internet." Comparing the shopping experience of a Persian bazaar to the non-experience of shopping at Wal-Mart, as well as how humans have moved from hunting/gathering to sharing their surpluses through marketplaces, Hine shows just how far the story of consumption has come throughout history. He even highlights the postmodern aspect of our current ubiquitous marketplace, writing, "There are no fixed identities in the buyosphere."
Shopping is something we all do with little thought as to why or how. As Hine writes, "Whether you are a buyer or a seller, when you are in the market, you're a part of the performance. You're looking. You're learning. You're alive." I Want That! will make you rethink your purchasing habits and why you want to buy what you buy.
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