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Female Criminality, Class, and Deviance During the Rise of the Twentieth Century Department Store

Selimić, Ina (2016) Female Criminality, Class, and Deviance During the Rise of the Twentieth Century Department Store. LSE Law Review, 1. pp. 1-30. ISSN 2516-4058

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.t6e75ci4jjqp


The period of 1880-1930 was the peak of the department store and shoplifting. From nascent medical theories permeating the legal process to the growth of consumerism, it was an era of changing social order. Certain groups, such as women and the working classes, were still within the inferior ranks. Yet the air of change was prevalent – the catalyst of World War One pushed social advancement, and the proliferation of the Suffragette movement transformed into ‘new womanhood’. Women yearned for independence, yet they were still constrained by financial limitations. Here, the rise of new industries embodied in the consumer culture of the department store became beacons of self advancement. Therefore, a focus on the rise of consumerism during this period will provide the framework for analysing why female criminals were predominantly implicated in property offences, specifically shoplifting. Consumer culture also caused the growth of London’s West End shopping districts. Whilst this opened up many public spaces to women looking for a sense of individuality, it also coincided with the social anxiety that consumerism would lead to the moral corruption of women. This emphasises that, in an attempt to hinder social advancement, the beginnings of female emancipation were dismissed as lewd and deviant.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 29 May 2018 11:22
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2021 23:13

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