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The Economic Roots Of The American "Zigzag": Knives, Forks, And British Mercantilism

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  • TRAVIS J. LYBBERT

Abstract

"Relative prices that prevail at critical times can shape culture in precise ways. Building on the work of the renowned archeologist James Deetz, this essay argues that the difference between Europeans' and Americans' use of knives and forks at the dinner table is an artifact of British mercantilism, which inflated the price of tableware in the American colonies and preserved the table fork as a colonial luxury long after it was an ordinary utensil in England. Pressures of conformity at the table have locked in these manners, which persist as an enduring effect of the British Navigation Acts". ("JEL" A10, D02, F13, N00) Copyright (c) 2009 Western Economic Association International.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 48 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (07)
Pages: 810-815

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:48:y:2010:i:3:p:810-815

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