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How did Retail Giants Reshape the Canadian Society by the book of Donica Belisle Essay (Book Review)

The book on the department stores and making modern Canada offers a clear view of what was going on in the region, as well describes the efforts taken those who were against the activities that were going on in the sector of consumerism (Abella 87). The writer focuses on exacting hypotheses giving examples that emphasize on his point of view.

The writer introduces Belisle as an activist who was ready to fight for equality in the region as well as improve the field of consumerism in the region. Belisle gave major emphases to a variety of manipulative, as well as paternalistic relations that came into being in the Canadian division stores in the early twentieth century.

Belisle was not alone in the effort to do away with the poor management in the area but there were others like Fudge and Abella who had a similar opinion on the stores in Canada.

Through Belisle many theories, for instance, gender and modesty were negotiated. However, this did not require much efforts as the affairs were compromised. She hoped to do away with the issue of consumerism which had dominated in the region, as well as end the naivety and passiveness portrayal of the consumer.

In the book, there was no biasness as the writer was free to do her investigations from many sources despite the fact that she was a minor member of the society and was also able to put up her findings, which were intended at changing the situation in the store without her being interrupted by anyone.

There are a number of thought as well as opinions presented in the book that are reliable and influential to the kind of governance that was in the departmental stores in Canada (Abella 95). The ideas are brought out clearly and help the reader to view the kind of business that was taking place in Canada, as well as the efforts that the characters put in to change the lifestyle of the citizens.

Belisle being a professor of femininity and women’s studies from Athabasca University had great influence on the way women were treated in Canadian department stores. In her efforts she put much attention especially on women who had been discriminated in a particular way in the stores.

In her efforts Belisle came up with the idea of thrusting past the issue of activeness in opposition to the issue of inactiveness among the consumers. This was a factor that had taken over the historiography of the customer in the Canadian scenery, she hoped to diminish it so as to improve the living standards of the Canadians.

To succeed in the idea she came up with a multifaceted network of business, business condition as well as consumer welfare. She maintained that the approach was aimed at shunning the customer’s naïve portrayal that was either inert or unconventional (Belisle 124).

This kind of idea had been brought in by other activists Abella and Fudge, who had also supported the same kind of thought. However, this was not easily achieved and this is the reason why Belisle was adding value to their thoughts.

Both the activist had a positive approach so as to bring some change in the Canadian stores which they thought were poorly managed with those in power since early twentieth century doing very little to improve the market or even to make the stores competitive.

This is better elaborated by Belisle where she claiming that the stores had much capabilities and were as well accountable for generating a better Canadian identity, as well as an important sector for creating a better way of living for the Canadians. The stores were also thought to promote their lives as entrepreneurial whites as well as those in the middle class.

Belisle thought that this was one area where discrimination was highly portrayed and thus had led to the stores being not as productive as expected, since those in the management did very little to improve the state of the stores since the early twentieth century.

The activists felt that coming theories, would enhance better understanding on when and where certain theories could be applied. In her work Belisle lighted on hypothesis with multiple illustrations indicative of how exacting hypothesis had been engaged in historical schemes all over the globe.

The book contributes to the issue of equality in the region, where she argued that there was a lot of discrimination on the women and this could be viewed by the gap that existed between the employees and consumers. She further explains on how women’s bodies were used for marketing of the industry.

According to Belisle, this was something that was not supposed to be practiced as all people in the stores were the same and each had a right to access the departmental stores regardless of their class or the language.

In the departmental stores, there existed a gap between the women where the English-speaking, health as well as white females held the higher positions in the labor force. This clearly indicated that in the Canadian departmental stores, some people had more powers than others.

It shows the gap between the employees and the consumers as those in the power did not give the take time to consider the feeling of the consumers (Abella 87). This as she described could have been the reason why there were little improvements in the stores since the early twentieth century.

The issue of discrimination is also a theme that played a great role in demoralizing the marketing in the Canada and depending on the fact that the departmental stores had been in existence since the early twentieth century, thus indicating that it ought to have stabilized and being in a position to evolve and bringing a better image to the community.

Belisle and the other activists played a great role in trying to improve the situation at the stores, as well as to the lifestyle of the people in the region. This was achieved through research, literature, marketing of the departmental stores as well as through poetry.

In the book, the issue of paternalism is found to dominate. She looked at the issue and did all she could do to diminish it although it appeared hard for her. She was not the only activist who aimed to eliminate the problem but none succeeded in this.

For instance, Eaton together with other stores, was among the stores that had done much in uplifting the lives of the people in the Canadian departmental stores via supplying them with contributions, inexpensive goods which they could easily afford, aids as well as organizing special occasions for the public. Despite all this, positive change was hardly experienced in the region as no developments were taking place in the area.

However the desperate situations of the stores in Canada, other companies like Eaton worked hard to change the issue. This was done via the company trying to change the staff into customers by placing public notices in disburse envelops (Fudge and Tucker 64).

The employees were also encouraged to engage in activities that could help improve the association among the people, as well as make people more engaged in the company activities. Some of the activities that the people were encouraged to participate in by the company included; sports, camp as well as other activities that could motivate the workers.

According to Belisle, the application of these activities was one way of improving the situation in the Canadian department stores. The industry looked at this issue as it could help minimize the low states of the store as well as promote marketing of the stores.

In her research, Benson analyzed the problems women in Canada faced; she did an analysis of a saleswoman in the United States where they were able to discuss issues concerning labor, trend as well as the various produces they worked with.

In spite of seldom moving past entry stage of sales person as well as diminished with humiliating outlook form both the consumers and the supervisors, the female employees were in a position to use their specific skills in fighting prejudice that was going on in the region.

Belisle looked at the origin as well as the end results of Canada department stores on the workers and clients, where their from time to time had common characteristics in startling means. She argued that the department stores were means of patriotism as well as transformation—opened in a cautious and organized manner.

contrasting other studies of similar kind that were done by other activists such as William Leach’s Land of Desire, much stress was put on the deception as well as on dramatic way of the early department stores of America (Belisle 89).

Initially, Belisle had listed all the department stores in Canada cities that were situated in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. She found out that departmental stores like Simpson and the Hudson’s Bay Company, were among the crucial companies in the region’s economy. For instance, by the Second World War, Eaton appeared to hold the third most number of workers in Canada.

The aim of the author was to emphasize the issue of national identity as well as utilization, keeping up that the Canadian department stores held distinguishing cultural principles.

Race was also a factor that distinguished the citizens in Canada where the white consumers were guaranteed of contemporary stores of courteousness where their workers would make an impression due to factors like high quality background among others (Fudge and Tucker 65).

Her chronological descriptions of transformation put a racist conversation into a spotlight more efficiently than similar studies concerning the matter that had taken place in the area. Author’s textual scrutiny of public notices disclosed the manner in which First Nations citizens as well as African people were lowly portrayed in conducts that attempted to lawfully dictate regal consumerism.

Belisle also looked at paternalism, which attributed powerfully all through the book. The paternalism dragged collectively a variety of facades of the Canadian department store. Belisle paid great attention to clients’ and workers’ daily experiences when inside or out of the department stores.

The writer brings out Belisle and other people in the book who participated in changing the life of citizens in Canada as patriotic as well as people who put other people’s interests before theirs. This is out of the way they worked in research with no interests or any gain. They toiled in their work to diminish the negative practices that were taking place in Canada and mostly in the department stores.

The activists on the kind of treatment that was happening in the stores made the characters to have some interest in changing the image of the people as well as those of the companies. This was enhanced by the fact that in the region the activists were not biased and so they had liberty to disclose what was not to be done in the right way.

The writer of the book aimed at bringing up the major issues that were happening in the region interfering with the developments of the stores in the region (Abella 78). He put forward characters that would help bringing out the problems that people go through in their daily lives.

In the current world, problem of racial discrimination, gender inequality, as well as corruption are the major problems that occur in every part of the world. The author also portrays the characters as people who are determined to fight them (Abella 56). Similarly in every part of the world, there are usually people who devote themselves to fight for the nation as a whole expecting nothing in return.

The author tries to bring up the theme of patriotism and devotion for a group or the nation at large aiming at succeeding. He brings out poor ruling as one of the factors that determine the destiny of a region. Also the potential as well as the determination of those heading an organization normally have the power to determine its direction either for the benefit of the citizens or the vise versa.

She bring forward in investigation of the sources of problems as well as the way out, thus a way of advising leaders and other people who have the urge to bring a change in a given area that is experiencing such problems.

The goals of the writer were achieved as she was able to bring out the themes out. However the characters used did not make it to change the way of life of the Canadians but made it to change the way people perceived things as well as their thinking. In the various arguments by characters like Belisle, the reader’s mind is prepared on the way forward in case he or she is faced by a similar kind of a problem.

In conclusion, thoughts and opinions of Belisle played a great role in the region as she helped bring out the themes on the issues that were affecting the Canadians (Fudge and Tucker 98).

The issues of corruption, gender inequality as well as discrimination were brought out to be as the major problems in the department stores in Canada and ought to be solved to ensure a smooth life for the citizens. In addition, the author elaborate on various theories that helped him portray the issues in the region.

Works Cited

Abella, Irving M. On strike; six key labour struggles in Canada, 1919-1949. New York: James Lorimer & Company, 1974. Print.

Belisle, Donica. Retail Nation: Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 2011. Print.

Fudge, Judy and Eric Tucker. Labour Before the Law: The Regulation of Workers’ Collective Action in Canada, 1900-1948. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "How did Retail Giants Reshape the Canadian Society by the book of Donica Belisle." May 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-did-retail-giants-reshape-the-canadian-society-by-the-book-of-donica-belisle-book-review/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'How did Retail Giants Reshape the Canadian Society by the book of Donica Belisle'. 29 May.

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