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A continuing desire for the new is often seen as a core cultural value of Western society, interwoven with the fabric of modernity itself. This has led to a conceptual and empirical neglect of 'alternative' consumer practices, including the consumption of second-hand goods. Rather than dismissing these as evidence of the inadequacies of pre-modern systems of production and exchange, this book seeks to redefine the relationship between modernity and the second-hand trade. It brings together the latest research on second-hand exchange and consumption in a range of western European countries during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Through a series of detailed studies, a different picture of the second-hand trade emerges: systems of exchange are seen to be resilient and innovative; used items are recognised as desirable consumer goods, and both buyers and sellers are revealed as being engaged in 'modern' practices. This innovative study is essential reading for all those interested in consumption studies.
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