This introductory chapter explains the theme of this volume, which is about the antagonism between the marketplace and the French Republic. This book examines the contests over the meanings of the marketplace and the larger cultural and political transformations in fin-de-siècle France and explores the French encounter with consumer culture by situating fin-de-siècle controversies about taste and the bourgeois Parisienne within a larger struggle over the meaning of the market and the gendered nature of the bourgeois order. It argues that debates about the female consumer were about more than gender boundaries because they illuminate the relationship between the market and the republic and, more broadly, the modern individual and the community.
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