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During the late 19th and early 20th century the United States witnessed an explosion in industry and production.  More production, meant more goods being produced, which, in turn, meant more products being available to the American public. It also fueled a reliance on wages and money. Industrialization created thousands of new urban (at that time) jobs to create these consumer goods. These new goods needed to be marketed and sold, so urban Americans became much more reliant on currency instead of trade. We call this new economy ‘consumerism’ and it has been a staple of the industrialized world for nearly 150 years.

Think about how our economy works today. If you have a job, why do you work? To make money. Why do you need money? To buy the things you need and want. Why do companies want your money? To make the things we we want and need so they can produce more. So, we work to make money, give that money to businesses to make more products, who market and sell their products, so we will buy the products, so they can make more products, so we work more to make more money… and on and on. That is the consumer economy (consumerism). Consumerism was substantially augmented (increased) by industrialization during the Gilded Age and the early 20th century. The reasons are simple: factories make more products than the traditional hand-made industries of the 18th and early 19th centuries. If you make more products, you have to sell more products, etc.

Consumerism led to enormous changes in transportation (moving materials to produce and sell), communication (you need to know what to produce and sell), education (you need an educated workforce), innovation (there is a constant demand for better products), advertising (you need to market your goods), and daily-life (people want and need newer, better ‘stuff’, plus entertainment).

This is a rather simplistic summary of how industrialization and consumerism relate to each other. For this discussion, I want you to take one major change or new product that came about during the late 19th and early 20th century (1877 – 1920) and discuss it. Limit your response to the above paragraph. You may choose transportation, communication, education, innovation, advertising, or daily-life. Explain how it relates to industrialization and consumerism historically. Then, explain how your choice may or may not affect our lives today. You may be general or specific here. In other words, you may choose transportation as a category and explain it overall OR you may be more specific by discussing, say, the automobile in particular (please don’t all choose the automobile…).

Just to clarify, your initial response needs to go over the history of your choice and its current or modern effects. There is no min-max length, but I imagine most good responses will be 2-4 paragraphs in length. I don’t want you to write a novel, but neither do I want you to be vague. Also, if you use any historical facts (and you should!) please cite where you got the information. A simple parentheses and short citation will work, e.g. (Give Me Liberty, pg. 681)

After posting an initial response you must reply back to another post. The reply for this first discussion is simple: find a post that mentions something different from your own and add to it. In other words do not just write, ‘I agree’ or ‘I did not think of that.’ Instead add something to either/both the historic changes and the modern effects.

The point breakdown will be:

35 points max for the initial response

15 points max for the reply

Grade breakdown:

A: 45-50 – well-reasoned and explained response and reply

B: 40-44 – decent response and reply, but needed more argument or fact

C: 35-39 – completed the assignment but only a satisfactory response and/or reply

D: 30-34 – simplistic or irrelevant information; little argument or fact

F: 0-29 – you know why you got this