Historians have only recently begun to note the increase in demand for luxury goods and services that took place in eighteenth-century England. McKendrick has explored the Wedgwood firm’s remarkable success in marketing luxury pottery; Plumb has written about the proliferation of provincial theater, musical festivals, and children’s toys and books. While the fact of this consumer revolution is hardly in doubt, three key questions remain: Who were the consumers? What were their motives? And what were the effects of the new demand for luxuries?
An answer to the first of these has been difficult to obtain. Although it has been possible to infer from the goods and services actually produced what manufacturers and servicing trades thought their customers wanted, only a study of relevant personal documents written by actual consumers will provide a precise picture of who wanted what. We still need to know how large this consumer market was and how far down the social scale the consumer demand for luxury goods penetrated. With regard to this last question, we might note in passing that Thompson, while rightly restoring laboring people to the stage of eighteenth-century English history, has probably exaggerated the opposition of these people to the inroads of capitalist consumerism in general; for example, laboring people in eighteenth-century England readily shifted from home-brewed beer to standardized beer produced by huge, heavily capitalized urban breweries.
To answer the question of why consumers became so eager to buy, some historians have pointed to the ability of manufacturers to advertise in a relatively uncensored press. This, however, hardly seems a sufficient answer. Mckendrick favors a Veblem model of conspicuous consumption stimulated by competition for status. The “middling sort” bought goods and services because they wanted to follow fashions set by the rich. Again, we may wonder whether this explanation is sufficient. Do not people enjoy buying things as a form of self-gratification? If so, consumerism could be seen as a product of the rise of new concepts of individualism and materialism, but not necessarily of the frenzy for conspicuous competition.
Finally, what were the consequences of this consumer demand for luxuries? McKendrick claims that it goes a long way toward explaining the coming of the Industrial Revolution. But does it? What, for example, does the production of high-quality pottery and toys have to do with the development of iron manufacture or textile mills? It is perfectly possible to have the psychology and reality of a consumer society without a heavy industrial sector.
That future exploration of these key questions is undoubtedly necessary should not, however, diminish the force of the conclusion of recent studies: the insatiable demand in eighteenth-century England for frivolous as well as useful goods and services foreshadows our own world.
1. In the first paragraph, the author mentions McKendrick and Plumb most probably in order to
[A] contrast their views on the subject of luxury consumerism in eighteenth-century England.
[B] indicate the inadequacy of historiographical approaches to eighteenth-century English history.
[C] give examples of historians who have helped to establish the fact of growing consumerism in eighteenth-century England.
[D] support the contention that key questions about eighteenth-century consumerism remain to be answered.
2. Which of the following items, if preserved from eighteenth-century England, would provide an example of the kind of documents mentioned in lines 3-4, paragraph 2?
[A] A written agreement between a supplier of raw materials and a supplier of luxury goods.
[B] A diary that mentions luxury goods and services purchased by its author.
[C] A theater ticket stamped with the date and name of a particular play.
[D] A payroll record from a company that produced luxury goods such as pottery.
3. According to the text, Thompson attributes to laboring people in eighteenth-century England which of the following attitudes toward capitalist consumerism?
4. In the third paragraph, the author is primarily concerned with
[A] contrasting two theses and offering a compromise.
[B] questioning two explanations and proposing a possible alternative to them.
[C] paraphrasing the work of two historians and questioning their assumptions.
[D] examining two theories and endorsing one over the other.
5. According to the text, eighteenth-century England and the contemporary world of the text readers are
[A] dissimilar in the extent to which luxury consumerism could be said to be widespread among the social classes.
[B] dissimilar in their definitions of luxury goods and services.
[C] dissimilar in the extent to which luxury goods could be said to be stimulant of industrial development.
[D] similar in their strong demand for a variety of goods and services.
【考点解析】本题是一道例(举)证题型。根据题干中的“McKendrick and Plumb”可将本题的答案信息来源迅速确定在首段的第二、三句。由于这两句话和首段第一句之间存在例(举)证的关系，故针对首段第一句进行认真理解。通过综合分析和归纳这三句话，可得出含有“examples”的选项C是正确答案。考生在解题时一定要善于识别题型，这一点的基础是要学会识别句子之间的关系。
【考点解析】这是一道细节推导题。题干中的信息以将本题的答案信息来源确定在第二段的三、四行。即第二段第二句的主句，该句中的“only a study of relevant personal documents written by actual consumers”暗示本题的答案是选项B。考生在解题时一定要学会识别原文和选项中同义词的替换。
【考点解析】本题是一道审题定位与关键词理解题。通过题干中的“the contemporary world of the text readers”可将本题的答案信息迅速确定在尾段，因为尾段中的“our own world”等于“the contemporary world of the text readers”。尾段最后一行中的“foreshadows”(预示;是……的预兆)一词暗示本题的正确选项是D。考生在解题时一定要有审题定位能力，并且对于原文中的关键词要有入目三分的理解。