This collection of photos from business equipment brochures dramatically shows the extent to which our assumptions about gender roles have changed.
"Historians of consumption have generally followed social theorists in emphasizing two different aspects of modernity. While social scientists emphasize long term processes of 'modernization,' such as urbanization and industrialization, cultural historians and literary critics define modernity in terms of consciousness, stressing in particular the development of a reflexive self and a heightened awareness of one's present age as new and set off from the past.(4) Both understandings of modernity underpin current historical literature on eighteenth-century Western European consumption. Highlighting socioeconomic processes of commercialization, historians argue that eighteenth-century Western Europe experienced a 'consumer revolution' as men and women freed themselves from the grip of scarcity to initiate a buying spree of historic proportions. Although its geography and periodization remain highly controversial, such a revolution is commonly represented as a step toward modern consumer society.(5) At the same time, the study of consumption, especially French consumption, has taken a cultural turn, opening new doors between the Enlightenment and late modernity. (6) Daniel Roche, whose work has defined the field, argues that the birth of consumption was an integral part of a larger cultural change in which the traditional values of a stationary Christian economy gradually gave way to the egalitarianism and individualism of modern commodity culture. For Roche, the story is principally one of emancipation: 'It is important to recognize that . . . commodities did not necessarily foster alienation; in fact, they generally meant liberation.'(7) The diffusion of fashion led to 'a new state of mind, more individualistic, more hedonistic, in any case more egalitarian and more free.'(8) Less optimistic than Roche but equally intent on establishing a connection between Enlightenment consumption and modernity, Jennifer Jones contends that the late-eighteenth-century discourse on fashion helped to produce modern, essentialized definitions of gender. As social differentiation faded from fashion commentary, gender differentiation took its place.(9)"
(Michael Kwass, p.633, The American Historical Review, 111.3)
Fig.1 FRONTISPIECE: Wigs. Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication, 11 vols. (Paris, 1762–1772), s.v. "Perruquier."
"From the film 1967 1999 A.D., a short sponsored by the Philco-Ford Corporation, showing what home shopping would be like three decades in the future. Although they missed the frenetic pace of today's online shopping experience-the housewife's browsing looks almost leisurely-they guessed correctly on the abundance flat-panel screens (with multiple monitors, no less), even if they were off by about a decade. Oh course, they didn't quite put together that we'd still be using keyboards for input."
(Joel Johnson, 10 September 2007, Boing Boing Gadgets)
[While this forecast is clearly about the potential of information and communication technology it also quite dramatically demonstrates the interdependence of technological development and culture e.g. reinforcing 1960's gender stereotypes.]