Toward an Understanding of Social and World Systemic Processes in the Spread of Consumer Culture: an Anthropological Case Study

Janeen A. Costa, University of Utah
ABSTRACT - Recent theoretical discussions and empirical presentations concerning the origin and spread of mass consumer culture have asserted widely differing geographical and temporal sites for these developments. This case study explores the usefulness of a diachronic world systemic approach constructed by Wallerstein for analysis of production, applied here to consumption behavior. Consumption of non-essential products appears in upper, middle and lower classes at different points in time. The data indicate that a full understanding of these social and economic processes can be obtained only when production, distribution, and consumption are analyzed together.
[ to cite ]:
Janeen A. Costa (1990) ,"Toward an Understanding of Social and World Systemic Processes in the Spread of Consumer Culture: an Anthropological Case Study", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 17, eds. Marvin E. Goldberg, Gerald Gorn, and Richard W. Pollay, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 826-832.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 17, 1990      Pages 826-832

TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF SOCIAL AND WORLD SYSTEMIC PROCESSES IN THE SPREAD OF CONSUMER CULTURE: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL CASE STUDY

Janeen A. Costa, University of Utah

ABSTRACT -

Recent theoretical discussions and empirical presentations concerning the origin and spread of mass consumer culture have asserted widely differing geographical and temporal sites for these developments. This case study explores the usefulness of a diachronic world systemic approach constructed by Wallerstein for analysis of production, applied here to consumption behavior. Consumption of non-essential products appears in upper, middle and lower classes at different points in time. The data indicate that a full understanding of these social and economic processes can be obtained only when production, distribution, and consumption are analyzed together.

The world system of the last four centuries has witnessed the spread of industrial production and an emphasis on material consumption. Historically, the "consumer revolution" occurred in certain areas of Western Europe at different times. The diffusion process of global consumer culture is one which is not yet complete. The case study presented here provides empirical support in an exploration of the following theoretical assertions: (l) Production, distribution, and consumption go hand in hand and cannot be analyzed separately; (2) Material accumulation in consumption behavior penetrates the social fabric unevenly, affecting people in different social classes at different times, (3) The data support the use of world systems theory as an analytical tool.

THEORISTS AND THEORIES CONSIDERED

Numerous theorists have addressed issues about the origin and spread of consumer culture. Following Braudel's tour de force on European life from the 15th to 18th centuries (1981, 1982, 1984), a number of scholars have analyzed in depth the social and economic features of European life during the rise of capitalism. Of particular interest are works exploring the geographic and temporal beginnings of mass consumption behavior. While many of these theorists present important data relevant to the issues at hand, they often lack a systemic diachronic perspective which, when utilized, illuminates both historical and present-day patterns of the origin and diffusion of consumer culture.

In reviewing recent literature on the topic, certain authors stand out as examples of the theoretical and empirical research typical of this area of exploration. All theorists in question mark the notable association between the rise of capitalism and the consumer revolution. As such, their focus on Europe is not surprising. They vary, however, in their interpretation of the role of consumer ideology in capitalism and the specific time and place for the rise of mass consumer culture. Mukerji (1983) suggests that consumption was a prime moving force in the development of capitalism and existed prior to the rise of the capitalist mode of production; her data are drawn from the 16th and 17th centuries in the Netherlands. Campbell (1987) and McKendrick, Brewer and Plumb (1982) believe 18th century England was the original site of consumer culture, but Campbell relies on an exegesis of the "romantic attitude" whereby a utilitarian version of consumption was replaced by an "hedonistic outlook" which spurred the development of the "spirit of modern consumerism." McKendrick, Brewer and Plumb, on the other hand, emphasize the "commercialization of fashion" as the primary 18th century innovation responsible for the birth of mass consumer culture. Williams (1981) sees the 19th century French as pioneers in advertising and retailing and describes the Paris expositions of 1899 and 1900 as triggers to the development of department stores and the evolution of mass consumption behavior.

Unlike the other scholars described, McCracken (1988) addresses more directly the systemic nature of the rise of consumer culture. He explores the analyses of Mukerji, Williams, and 0 McKendrick, Brewer and Plumb as "crucial moments t in the history of consumption" (1988:28). McCracken implicitly recognizes the way in which various regions of Europe are integrated through production and consumption patterns, but he does not deal explicitly with world systems theory. The analysis presented in this paper indicates the usefulness of Wallerstein's (1974, 1980, 1989) exploration of the world-economy as an underlying theoretical construct in the analysis of the origin and spread of consumer culture.

While Wallerstein is concerned with capitalism as a form of production, his findings have important implications for the study of capitalist forms of consumption as well. Briefly, Wallerstein has asserted that the international or world economic system as we now know it was formed in the "long sixteenth century," when capitalism spread across political boundaries, and an unequal, diversified international division of labor evolved. The European world congealed into core, semi-peripheral and peripheral regions with specific political and economic characteristics. This system perpetuates itself and has continued to exist in similar form, albeit with varying details, to the present time. Core regions are those parts of the world system which have strong state machineries and manufacture and market industrialized goods; peripheral areas are characterized by weak central governments, the consumption of goods manufactured elsewhere, and the export of human labor and raw goods. In the 20th century, peripheral areas often host factories from the "developed" or core portions of the world, without realizing many material benefits of the industrialized production sites located in their country by foreign capital. Semi-peripheral areas are former core regions of the world system, de-industrializing as the core of the system shifts from one locus to another.

Central to the core/periphery/semi-periphery distinction is the systemic interaction of the sectors. The relationship between the core areas and the peripheral regions serves to maintain the economic status quo and the uneven politic-economic power structure. Cores benefit s capital and inexpensive human labor flow into their sector of the international economy from the periphery and semi-periphery.

Importantly, this relative position changes over time, so that historically the "core" of the world economy shifted from Spain to France, Belgium and the Netherlands and eventually to England over time. The expanding production and capital accumulation in the Pacific Rim today may signal the ascendancy of that region into the "core' of the world economy, Similarly, patterns of mass consumption arose at various times in Europe and reflected the shifting position of regions and the intimate systemic interaction of those regions to the extent that changes in one area precipitated changes in other areas. Utilizing this approach, it is not surprising that the theorists mentioned have come to the conclusion that various sites were important in the origin and/or spread of mass consumption. Like McCracken, however, we must reach the conclusion that the development of consumer culture is an ongoing process, the specific details of which vary over time and space. (See Belk 1988 for an excellent discussion of mass consumer culture developing in the Third World.)

As in production, we can observe differences in consumption which affect and are affected by the relative position of the nation or region in the world economy as core, periphery or semi-periphery. In the fully developed economy of the core region, broad consumer choice is markedly evident. A full range of goods and services is available, with notable variation in price and quality within each product category. This variation accommodates the needs and desires of all classes and professions in the fully fleshed-out and complex social structure of the core area. Locally manufactured items are abundant, while raw goods and food often come from outside the industrialized region. In contrast, consumption in the periphery is marked by fewer overall total goods and less variety in the full product range as well as within a product category. Because manufacturing is limited or non-existent, items of local origin are not available and/or are undervalued in comparison with foreign-produced goods. Finally, as with production, the consumption patterns of the semi-periphery are transitional between those of the core and those of the full periphery. The availability of goods declines and consumer choice becomes more and more restricted over time.

In addition to gaining insight into patterns of consumption through the use of the core/semi-periphery/periphery distinctions, the case study presented here provides information on two other important theoretical issues. First, it is clear that the concept of social class is necessary in order to fully understand the reported behavior historically. The emphasis on material accumulation and the ability to accumulate penetrated the social fabric unevenly, affecting the lower class of landless laborers, the rising middle class, and the nobility at different times. Furthermore, an analysis cognizant of the dimension of class and the utility of a world systems approach addresses another important theoretical issue: production, distribution, and consumption must be analyzed together. Wallerstein over-emphasizes production, for example, while McCracken stresses consumption to a near exclusion of production. The "revolution" was one of all aspects of the socio-economic system, involving production, distribution and consumption, but affecting different regions and different classes at varying times. While this understanding is implicit in the analyses of these theorists, it must be made explicit. Marx, on the other hand, clearly points to the dialectical interactions of production and consumption in the capitalist system (1930). The concise description of these behaviors as they evolved socially and temporally in the case study presented here illustrates the intimate connections between changing patterns of production and distribution and forms of consumption.

THE CASE: METHOD AND SETTING

Information for the following case study was collected during several weeks in the summers of 1978, 1986 and 1987 and during a year-long period from November 1979 to October 1980. The author participated in and observed the changing lifestyle of residents of the island of Cephalonia as they were affected by circulating migrants and Greek and foreign tourists during these times, with particular emphasis on the village of Sami. With the help of a local research assistant, a demographic and socioeconomic survey of the village was conducted for both the winter population of 600 and the summer population of 3,000, swollen by returning migrant family members and tourists. Lengthy and numerous depth interviews were conducted with key informants throughout the several phases of research as well. Finally, archival research was undertaken at the Corgialenios Library and Archives in Argostoli, Cephalonia and at the Gennadeion Library in Athens. In the following pages, the origins and spread of a consumption ideology emphasizing material accumulation over time in the developing social classes is outlined. The paper concludes with an exploration of consumer culture and two of its agents--the migrant and the tourist--in modem Greece. (See Aschenbrenner 1986 for a discussion of similar processes in another Greek village; see also Hughes 1943, Srinivas 1976).

The island of Cephalonia lies to the west of the Peloponnesian Peninsula in Greece and is the largest of the islands in the Ionian Sea. Irregularly shaped and ruggedly mountainous, the island is approximately 15 miles wide and 25 miles long. The soil is relatively infertile and rocky, with few areas of cultivable level land. From early times, Cephalonia was an important strategic landfall, control of which became increasingly desirable as political powers vied with one another for domination of the Mediterranean and trade with the Levant. Later, Cephalonia became an economic asset in its own right with the introduction of the currant crop and the extensive reliance on the currant as an important part of the import and export ventures of the Venetians and the British (Goodisson 1822).

For several centuries leading up to the end of the 19th century, the larger valleys were owned by aristocratic families, members of a nobility which became entrenched during the lengthy period of indirect and direct Venetian rule. The majority of the island's inhabitants were landless laborers and small landowners who depended on the large landholders and their magistrates to provide seed, purchase crops, and facilitate access to markets. While the population of Cephalonia has fluctuated throughout the several thousand years for which historic and prehistoric evidence exists, it is unlikely that the population ever rose above 100,000.

Since the middle of the twentieth century, Cephalonians have emigrated in large numbers, and the census of 1981 registered only 27,649 inhabitants. Depopulation in this century is a result of the continuing spread of an ideology of consumption, combined with the perceived need to migrate in order to obtain sufficient income to meet expanding consumer needs and wants.

Attitudes and beliefs conducive to the eventual evolution of a mass consumer culture are evident in early historical periods in Greece. Mercantile capitalism and urbanization in Classical and Roman Greece combined to create a demand for certain consumer goods, and prestige was awarded to those who were able to undertake particular lifestyles associated with material accumulation. As the Greek distribution network spread, commercial ports were established along the coasts throughout the Mediterranean. The trade goods were primarily luxury, "non-essential" products, ownership of which required a certain amount of wealth and, in turn, conveyed status. Trading with Egypt and the Levant, Greek and Roman merchants returned to their homes with lapis lazuli, ivory, and glass. Precious metals and gems were acquired in exchange for surpluses of olive oil, wine and grain produced locally. Costly Roman funeral incense is an excellent example of an expensive, rare product utilized by the wealthy as an indication of prestige (Johnson 1987).

The number of people able to engage in the accumulation of such desirable objects was small and confined primarily to the wealthy class. Furthermore, the wealthy appear to have exploited their economic and political power during times of general governmental weakness to maintain and increase their material wealth and consumption of luxury products at the expense of the poor (see Bon 1951, Costa 1983). However, there are indications that peasants and laborers sought the same consumer goods but found it difficult to obtain them. While an ideology emphasizing a certain consumer behavior pattern may exist, it cannot be enacted without the productive means, and such means did not exist for the majority of Greek society.

Distribution in the form of merchant shipping expanded in the Mediterranean in the eleventh century under Byzantine influence and the escalating activities of Norman conquerors. Into the 12th and 13th centuries, periods of rampant piracy, Cephalonia was sought as a strategic landfall with calm ports suitable for both military and merchant activities (Cosmetatos 1976:103). Under the various Norman and Frank rulers, the position of Cephalonia evolved from one of independence, to indirect rule as leaders were forced to ally with Venice for protection, to one of direct rule by the Venetian power.

The small middle class continued to trade in preciosities, as well as agricultural products, wine, and oil during this period. Land was being concentrated in the hands of a few, and a rigid upper class with distinctive consumption behaviors was developing. In the 14th century, some Cephalonian women were weaving silk, and their husbands were exporting the cloth (Froissart 1397). Tax revenues from the island were high and were an indication of general prosperity (Kirkwall 1864; Pratt 1978).

As Venice consolidated her hold over Cephalonia, production and consumption patterns and class formation responded. The period of direct rule, 1502-1798, witnessed the crystallization of a feudal system whereby individuals were granted fiefs and the nobility became entrenched in the rural parts of the island. Peasants produced surplus for the aristocratic landholders, who used the products to support a consumption lifestyle that can only be termed "lavish" when compared to that of the typical Cephalonian. Importantly, it was during the Venetian period in Cephalonia that the international or world capitalist economy described by Wallerstein was evolving in Europe. Prior to that time, empires, rather than world economies, existed, and it is not possible to characterize Cephalonia or any other region of Europe as core, periphery, or semiperiphery, since the international division of labor discussed by Wallerstein had not yet come into being.

With the introduction of the currant crop in the early 1500's, a shift from subsistence agriculture to commercial production for the international market occurred. This alteration had important implications for the lifestyle and consumption patterns of the nobility and evolving middle class of merchants and shop-owners dependent on the currant trade for their livelihood. Using accumulated proceeds from currant production, large landholders purchased and consumed luxury foreign goods, "woollen or silk fabrics with caviar, coffee, and spices from the orient" (Pratt 1978:37), as well as sugar and rice. Clothing varied by class, and, as in other parts of Europe, the type of clothing worn was proscribed for certain individuals in order to maintain distinct class identities; "wigs were worn in society" (Cosmetatos 1976:25). Nobles wore clothing made from fine imported fabrics and lace; trousseau lists indicate a similar reliance on foreign-made materials and objects among the wealthy. In the 1600s, the wealthy began to use imported linen from France, muslin from Constantinople, and Belgian lace in their clothing. Imported knitted stockings appeared in Cephalonia at the same time. Even during periods of economic decline, nobility continued to purchase and wear fine clothes in order to maintain social status. By the late 1800's, rich families often had their daughters' trousseaux prepared abroad (Ibid: 65).

In the 16th and 17th centuries, aristocrats who aspired to Venetian government posts were obliged to own houses in the growing towns, in addition to their country estates. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, these homes were large and boasted extensive gardens. For the first time in Cephalonian history, the interiors were heavily decorated (Cosmetatos 1976). Italian artists were brought to the island to paint ceilings and murals. "Carpets, rugs, curtains, furniture, monumental bedsteads from Birmingham, paraffin oil lamps and China in the ubiquitous willow pattern were imported to stuff every room to capacity" (Ibid.: 50). Furthermore, "each of the houses contained a modem pram, as much a status symbol as was a knowledge of French for young marriageable girls" (Ibid.).

The rising middle class owed its existence to trade and consisted primarily of merchants, owners of ships, and ship captains. Their consumption patterns over time reflected growing affluence and a dependence on commerce, and their trousseau lists show the use of imported cottons and the late 16th and 17th century apron, fashionable throughout Europe by this time. As they continued to travel abroad for purposes of income production, they added more foreign products to their dowries, including furniture for their homes. In this consumption behavior, as with those discussed above, they emulated the patterns of the local and foreign nobility, who began to consume these "luxury" goods at an earlier point in time.

While the nobility and middle classes used their income from commerce to support comparatively lavish lifestyles, however, the peasants produced and sold the currants merely to survive. Throughout the Venetian and British periods and into the mid-20th century, the lower classes of the island continued to produce and consume at a near-subsistence level. Living in small one-room houses with dirt floors and few pieces of furniture, peasants wore home-spun clothing and ate simple diets of bread, olive oil, cheese and gathered greens. Meat was consumed perhaps once or twice a year at Christmas and Easter and only when an animal was available for slaughter. The consumption of any type of "luxury" good was out of the question and well beyond the means of the majority of Cephalonians.

The data indicate increasing integration of the local level with extra-local levels, as the aristocrats and the middle class exemplify changes in production, distribution, and consumption associated with contact with European society and Levantine trade. During the Venetian period, however, Cephalonia was directly attached to a part of the world economy--Venice--which Wallerstein refers to as "semi-peripheral," a de-industrializing, formerly powerful sector of the international politico-economic system (1974, 1980). The decline would continue and accelerate through the British period, 1815 to 1864, and into the modern phase of Cephalonian history. As it did, relative wealth and affluence characteristic among the upper echelons of society during the early Venetian period declined as well. By the end of the British era, numerous aristocrats and merchants had emigrated from the island (Costa 1983, 1988b; Markopoulou 1967). In the modern period, Cephalonia and the other Ionian islands became part of a "peripheral" sector of the world economy--Greece. Utilizing world systems theory as it applies to Greece today, the weak central political organization, and the role of Greece as exporter of raw goods and, importantly, human labor, as well as importer and consumer of foreign manufactured goods, place Greece in this "peripheral" category.

As the focus narrows specifically to Cephalonia, it is clear that the island is now a peripheral region of a peripheral country. Cephalonia has "exported" 75 percent of its human population in this century. As that population returns periodically in the circulating migration pattern, Cephalonians become exposed to foreign manufactured products and, in turn, acquire the desire to obtain these products themselves. Eventually, local store-owners import the goods from companies located in Athens or Patras who have themselves imported the items originally from foreign sources. Like migration, tourism exposes Cephalonians to similar processes of change in consumption, distribution and production.

Feudalism began to decline during British rule from 1815 to 1864; land reformations and redistributions under the modern Greek government secured the total demise of the feudal system, as large landholders lost most of their land and the control of peasants attached to the land. Agricultural production in Cephalonia today is primarily to supplement income earned in other ways. In 1980, full-time agriculturalists made up only thirteen percent of the heads of households in the main village under study. Typical nonagricultural economic activities include shop-keeping, wage labor in construction, fishing and herding, employment in the merchant marine, and work in hotels, restaurants or other service-oriented businesses. The latter have become increasingly profitable as Greek and foreign tourists visit the island more frequently and in greater numbers since 1975. Employment in the merchant marine has been a common pursuit for Cephalonians for several centuries. With respect to the issue at hand, various forms of migration and increasing tourism in Cephalonia are important factors in the spread of a consumer ideology throughout the social fabric of this island. For the first time in history, the lower classes have the productive means to pursue mass consumer culture.

The patterns of migration have had a particularly important impact on the consumption behavior of Cephalonians. Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, lower class Cephalonians joined the thousands of other Greeks migrating to the United States to take advantage of economic opportunities at a time when the local economy was collapsing (Costa 1983, 1988b; Saloutos 1964 ). The numbers involved in emigration from Cephalonia were not large enough to markedly affect local life as yet, and return migration either on a temporary or permanent basis was rare in this early period. By the 1950's and 60's, however, migrants were beginning to retire to the island, bringing with them savings accumulated during their lifetime abroad, as well as tastes for goods and services to which they had become accustomed. They often brought with them prized possessions in the form of clothing and household objects to be displayed prominently to the community (see Costa 19894 1989b). Infrequently returning male migrants seeking a bride earlier in the century also wore expensive clothing and jewelry and brought lavish gifts, such as gold jewelry and fine clothing, to their families and prospective in-laws.

It was only in the 1960's and after, however, that migration was so extensive and of a particular type that remarkable changes began to occur in the consumption behavior of the majority of Cephalonians, and a local "mass consumer revolution" occurred. At this time, the migration point of destination changed to Athens and other cities of Greece, as well as to parts of Western Europe, particularly Germany. These sites were comparatively closer to the island, and, especially as transportation networks developed and became more efficient, migrants began to engage in seasonal circular migration. In this pattern, migrants return during the summer and at Christmas and Easter holidays, visiting their families and bringing with them consumer objects from the world outside Cephalonia.

As did the permanently returned migrants, the circulating migrants bring with them their newly acquired tastes for goods and services heretofore unavailable on the island. Their consumer needs and wants have spurred the development of local businesses to cater to them. Furthermore, migrants have become a particularly effective avenue for the transmission of a consumption ideology to those who have not yet left the island. This ideology favors the acquisition and use of goods produced outside the island and, most often, outside Greece altogether. Such products include major and small appliances, Western-style clothing, stereos, televisions, radios and cameras, furniture, household decorative items, distinctive foods and beverages, modern bathroom and kitchen fixtures, Western music nd forms of entertainment including bars, discotheques, and movie theaters, and European or American cars, trucks and motorcycles (see Costa 1988a, 1988b, 1989a, 1989b).

The close connections between consumption, distribution and production behaviors are obvious here. Individuals undertake new production behavior through migration, transmit new consumer tastes to their families and friends in Cephalonia, who then undertake the consumption behavior themselves, as well as new production in the for n of opening businesses to cater to local and migrant needs. Distribution systems develop and expand to respond to the increasing traffic in goods and people. In addition, Cephalonians who have not migrated previously may do so after contact with returning migrants in order to obtain adequate income to support new consumption behavior. Production, distribution and consumption clearly operate in a feedback system.

In addition to migration, tourism has been an important factor in exposure to new forms of consumption. Both foreign tourists and elite Greek tourists from Athens and Thessaloniki have increased in numbers in the last several years, and their influence on local consumption behavior is evident. Foreign tourists, primarily from France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, bring with them new fashions and new technology from outside of Greece. Local Cephalonians often admire the products and take steps to acquire them. Again emphasizing the intimate association of productive efforts, distribution and consumption patterns, some Cephalonians open stores or increase their inventories to make these items available to island residents, circulating migrants and tourists. Production in services expands as well, as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment sites increase in number, and transportation and communication networks develop. Greek tourists from Athens and Thessaloniki, like circulating migrants, become an effective avenue for transmission of consumer ideology from the urban to rural areas of Greece. Bringing with them desirable goods and a demand for certain products, they influence local tastes and are accessible models for emulation.

Throughout the periods in question, the content of the culture of consumption itself has varied by class. The nobility and upper echelons of modern Greece have made and make consumption choices on the basis of peer influence. In the past, aristocratic families created and maintained ties throughout various parts of Europe and shared consumption patterns involving luxury, high-cost goods prevailed. The modern consumer of the Greek upper classes today continues to maintain international ties, and his/her consumption choices reflect that contact. Purchasing and owning expensive, durable items from abroad is commonplace and not often singled out for comment by consumers. Members of this class participate fully in the consumption of services as well.

On the other hand, it is quite clear that ownership of items from foreign countries is still somewhat exceptional among lower-class Greeks, although it is becoming increasingly common and is a mark of prestige. These goods are often acquired through the productive efforts of migrants or members of the merchant marine (Costa 1989a, 1989b). There is a greater willingness to accept less expensive alternative goods which break easily or wear out quickly, and services are rarely used. Thus, villagers learn about and acquire valued goods through members of their own family, neighbors whose migrating kin have returned from abroad, or tourists.

In the past, the developing middle class seemed to emulate the wealthy in their consumption choices. Since a significant portion of this class, however, was and is productively based on commercial trade abroad, they have been exposed to and seek to acquire foreign goods to which they themselves have been exposed personally. In many cases, the members of this class were once aspiring lower class laborers and peasants of Greece who have become the migrating kin responsible for the transmission of consumer ideology and goods from outside the island to Cephalonia itself.

CONCLUSIONS

This paper has attempted a preliminary exploration of the development and spread of a consumer ideology among various social sectors in Cephalonia, Greece. While an attitude favoring consumption of non-essential products is evident among the upper classes of Greek society from an early period in history, the ideology and behavior in the middle and lower classes required the development of the productive means to support such a consumption pattern in these social sectors. As such, the evolution of truly "mass" consumer behavior cannot be said to have existed in Cephalonia prior to the middle of the 20th century. Furthermore, the case indicates the necessity of understanding consumption, distribution and production as interrelated systems.

In addition, the data are illuminated when Wallerstein's core/periphery/ semi-periphery distinction is applied. It is beyond the scope and page limitation of this paper to explore fully the implications of applying this construct to the case study at hand. However, the preliminary investigation points to shifts in consumption coinciding with historical changes in Cephalonian attachment to various sectors of the world economy which can be identified clearly as core, semiperiphery, or periphery. In the Venetian period in Cephalonia, Venice was a power declining from a core to semi-peripheral area, with increasing attempts to hold on to wealth through trade. The wealth once amassed by the nobility and merchant classes was threatened with the demise of the Venetian power. As the islands passed briefly through the hands of the British, members of these classes began to leave the island in search of production and consumption opportunities elsewhere.

Eventually, with the cession of Cephalonia and the other Ionian Islands to the modern nation of Greece in 1864, the island became attached to a nation which was to become, quite clearly, a peripheral part of the European-based world economy. Industrialized core areas preserve their wealth and power at least partially through the use of labor and raw goods provided by peripheral regions. In addition, peripheral areas are excellent markets for the goods manufactured in core sectors. Consumption in peripheral regions is marked by an emphasis on foreign goods and a marked lack of variety in consumer products as well as product availability on the basis of class. Cephalonians and many other Greeks become foreign labor, send foreign capital home to their families, and purchase goods produced in foreign countries. As such, the data presented here support the use of a world systems approach, a la Wallerstein, to explicate events and behaviors occurring both historically and at the present time in the region under study.

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