Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - FUTUREPERFECT (Future Perfect: Ernest Dichter and Consumer Society in Europe and North America)

FuturePerfect (Project No. 631789) is a four-year project funded by a Career Integration Grant from the Marie Curie People Programme of the European Commission. It draws on research methods in business history, cultural history, and material culture studies to reconsider the transatlantic history of consumer society. The aim is to advance the historical understanding of consumer society in Europe and North America context in the mid- to late-twentieth century, and to disseminate this new knowledge to an audience of academics, students, and the general public through lectures, conference papers, and a major single-authored book.
The Principal Investigator is Prof. Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society at the University of Leeds in the UK. The purpose of this Career Integration Grant is to help Blaszczyk, who moved to Europe in February 2013, to integrate her specialized expertise in the cultural history of business into the University of Leeds, the UK, and the EU. The research is built around a historical study of advertising, marketing, and design practice from the 1930s to the 1990s, using the transatlantic career of Austrian émigré Ernest Dichter, often called the “father of motivational research,” as a focal point. The research aims to explore connections between Europe and America starting in the Great Depression and focusing on the Cold War, providing a platform for re-examining the “Americanization” theme in European historiography. The research seeks to develop a better understanding of how European ideas and practices influenced business culture around the world.
In Phase I, Blaszczyk advanced this research agenda with significant research on Ernest Dichter and the mid-twentieth-century transatlantic business environment. In particular, her research has focused on the large archive of Ernest Dichter Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library in the USA, and on additional primary historical research on business professionals who were Dichter’s contemporaries and sympathetic with his world view, drawing on materials in the USA and the UK. This work has allowed Blaszczyk to develop a nuanced understanding of Dichter and his times, which will feed into the humanistic biography that will be a major output of the project. The data-gathering activities of Phase I have laid the foundation for additional research and writing in Phase II.
The major outcomes of Phase I (1 March 2014- 28 February 2016) are: 1) major research in the Ernest Dichter Archives in the USA and in other archives in the UK and the USA; 2) the presentation of three public lectures; 3) the presentation of eight scientific conference papers; 4) comments on two academic panels; and 5) co-sponsorship of three public programs coordinated with the Marks and Spencer Company Archive on the campus of the University of Leeds.

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United Kingdom


Life Sciences
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