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Article Review AssignmentThe article Polite Consumption by Helen Berry explores the shopping experiences of the middle and upper class in Hanoverian, England during the eighteenth-century. There was a long-standing presumption made by historians that these Georgian consumers were beguiled by social emulation and that their spending habits were heavily influenced by this underlying desire to replicate their superiors. However, the author aims to offer a new perspective by unveiling the consumers’ true pursuit of joining the “polite society”. By analyzing primary sources, such as written records and literary texts, Berry exhibits the development of the polite shopping culture and demonstrates its governance over the social interactions and the economic exchanges between consumers and shopkeepers. The author also analyses the relationship between the emergence of cash-only businesses and the collapse of the polite shopping realm at the end of the century. After providing a detailed background of the social milieu in the eighteenth-century, Berry continued to expound on her vision of polite consumption by addressing the courteous rituals of shopping. The author claims that while consumers followed the customs of polite browsing, it was common for shopkeepers to assess the creditworthiness of their shoppers according to their appearance and alter their offerings to account for the consumer’s status (Berry 388). The author’s evaluation suggests that in the polite society the consumer’ class was appointed the power to determine the distribution of resources and capital. The upper class reaped the benefit of acquiring quality goods for discounted prices while the lower class was condemned to the use of inferior goods (Berry 391). Since the polite society mainly constituted of the upper sorts, the author alludes to the fact that business owners had to sacrifice their individual quest of profit in submission to the supremacy of the upper class during this era. However, since a considerable portion of the article is dedicated to describing the polite society rather than its control on consumption, this imperative perspective disappears into the insignificant details of the author’s work, ultimately decreasing the persuasiveness and focus of her argument. Furthermore, the author examines the symbolic meaning behind the transition from a polite consumption society into a cash-based economy. Berry claims that the introduction of currency allowed shopkeepers to finally see the economic inequalities that resulted from empowering polite consumers (Berry 393). Moreover, her analysis suggests that the rise of this cash-based economy helped shopkeepers escape from the confined system created by the polite society. The rituals of polite shopping that once prevailed in the shopkeepers’ community were then overshadowed by the promises of economic prosperity made by the new capitalist system. This establishment of currency ultimately gave shopkeepers the power to strip the polite consumers from their title as the controllers of trade. Therefore, the author insinuates that the transformation of the polite consumption system to the capitalist system symbolises the shift of bargaining power from the consumer to the seller.   Although the author is able to paint a vivid picture of the social landscape in the eighteenth-century through the use of literary works, Berry ultimately undermines the full credibility of her argument by associating it with these impartial novels. For instance, the author often alludes to the works of Jane Austen and Fanny Burney when recounting the social setting for polite women shoppers during the time (Berry 379-380). Yet, the line between these novelists’ recollections of events and reality can be distorted by their own personal bias and perceptions of women. Upon realizing this undertone of prejudice within the author’s affirmations, the reader may question the validity of the overall argument. In conclusion, the author succeeds with varying degree in unmasking the class and gender connotations of the polite consumption society, which within the field of scholars is often overlooked. The way that Berry attempts to shed light on this society’s control over trade is quite astounding and innovative in its approach. Although the author’s writing is at times perplexing and overstated, Berry is able to compose her debate fairly accurately with the presentation of historical data and its corresponding in-depth analysis. Ultimately, Berry’s work provides the impetus for further research into the nature of the polite society and its profound influence on the development of capitalism.

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