Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Consumer Liberation: Baby Boomers, Hip Businesses, and the Challenge to Mass Consumption, 1968-1983
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In this dissertation, I investigate how young consumers sought to reform America's culture of mass consumption by patronizing and founding hip businesses from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Four major transformations of the 1960s—Black Power, second-wave feminism, the sexual revolution, and the rise of the counterculture—combined with deep discontent with large-scale institutions in business, education, and American public life to motivate young Americans to pursue what I call consumer liberation. I investigate Baby Boomer consumers (born between 1946 and 1964) who developed, expanded and partook in insurgent commercial cultures that they believed comported with the era's progressive political and cultural lessons. To this effect, this dissertation investigates black-owned record stores and radio stations, blue jeans makers and retailers, singles bars, and sellers of drug paraphernalia and marijuana. Investigating how Boomers navigated the intersection of consumption and culture represents a vital strategy for assessing how the upheavals of the 1960s transformed young Americans' daily lives through the 1970s and well into the early 1980s. Many young Baby Boomers hoped that hip businesses could provide the framework for a less bureaucratic and less alienating consumer culture that was firmly based in local communities. By patronizing hip businesses, Boomers increasingly structured their public lives around what I call social consumption.