Self-service: retail, shopping and personhood

Du Gay, Paul (2004). Self-service: retail, shopping and personhood. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 7(2) pp. 149–163.



This paper seeks to explore the development of "self-service" shopping technologies in British retailing from the period directly after the second world war (roughly, from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s). Despite the crucial role in revolutionising the conduct of shopping and practices of consumption routinely allotted to self-service by industry commentators and social scientists, there remains a dearth of empirical evidence concerning how, practically, self-service actually was put to work and what its concrete effects were. The paper does not claim to provide a definitive history, but rather attempts to offer some historically grounded thoughts concerning the relationship between retail techniques and devices (dispositifs), shopping practices and the constitution of persons, specifically the retail consumer and the shop-worker.

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