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History General

Selling Out or Buying In?

Debating Consumerism in Vancouver and Victoria, 1945-1985

by (author) Michael Dawson

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
May 2018
General, General, Canadian
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price

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Until the late 1950s residents of Vancouver and Victoria negotiated a shopping landscape that would be unrecognizable to today’s consumers: most stores were closed for at least half the day on Wednesdays, prevented from opening during the evenings, and were banned from operating on Sundays. Since that decade, however, British Columbians, and Canadians generally, have made significant strides in gaining greater and easier access to consumer goods.


Selling Out or Buying In? is the first work to illuminate the process by which consumers’ access to goods and services was liberalized and deregulated in Canada in the second half of the twentieth century. Michael Dawson’s engagingly written and detailed exploration of the debates amongst everyday citizens and politicians regarding the pros and cons of expanding shopping opportunities, challenges the assumption of inevitability surrounding Canada’s emergence as a consumer society. The expansion of store hours was a highly contested and contingent development that pitted employees, owners and regulators against one another. Dawson’s nuanced analysis of archival and newspaper sources reveals the strains that modern capitalism imparted upon the accepted and established rhythms of daily life.

About the author

Michael Dawson is Professor of History at St where he teaches courses on Canadian History, the global history of sport and tourism, and the comparative history of national identity and popular culture in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.In 2014 he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Michael Dawson's profile page


  • Winner, The CHA Best Political History Book Prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association

Editorial Reviews

"Dawson is optimistic about our own agency to break out of the prison house of consumerism..."

BC Studies, online

"This well-researched engaging monograph uncovers the complex debates over store-hour restrictions that shaped the retail landscape of Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, in the post-Second World War period."

Histoire Sociale/Social History, vol 52 no 105, May '19

"Thick descriptions of the kind presented by Dawson are valuable, and, when written engagingly, as this study is, they make for a pleasant read."

<em>University of Toronto Quarterly: Letters in Canada 2018</em>

Other titles by Michael Dawson