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Doing Your Part?

If it's the duty of every American to spend, then businesses must give something of value back.

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This story appears in the September 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

We've heard so much about consumer spending lately, it seems like a recent phenomenon. But the emphasis on spending isn't new; in fact, Harvard University history professor Liz Cohen says it's been around since the 1930s. Cohen's compelling book, A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (Alfred A. Knopf), argues that shopping has long been a form of patriotism, and that Americans have a rich history of opening their wallets when it's time to come to the aid of the country.

What do you mean by the term, "a consumers' republic"?

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