The NYT wrote about it yesterday and Boing Boing picked it up today… Rachel Shteir’s The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting looks to be a fascinating study into what some consider a to be an addiction or a misunderstood behavior in children. It clearly is much more than that. The key line from the publisher’s note say it all: “Just as experts can’t agree on why people shoplift, they can’t agree on how to stop it.”

“The Steal begins when shoplifting entered the modern record as urbanization and consumerism made London into Europe’s busiest mercantile capital. Crossing the channel to nineteenth-century Paris, Shteir tracks the rise of the department store and the pathologizing of shoplifting as kleptomania. In 1960s America, shoplifting becomes a symbol of resistance when the publication of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book popularizes shoplifting as an antiestablishment act. Some contemporary analysts see our current epidemic as a response to a culture of hyper-consumerism; others question whether its upticks can be tied to economic downturns at all. Few provide convincing theories about why it goes up or down.”

Available from Amazon.

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