Which is Which? Consumerist or Anti-Capitalist Magazine?

Matthew Hilton examines the past progress and future dilemmas of the Consumers’ Association.

How many dusty copies of Which? magazine must there be lying in the attics of British houses? The comparative testing magazine has been a guide and a source of information for millions of families building homes ever since it was first published in 1957. Often, it has been associated with the aspiring couple in a modern three-bedroom semi, or else with the nit-picking tendencies of the proverbially ‘Disgusted’ of Tunbridge Wells. We think of professional men pouring over the tables and facts presented in the magazine, working out on utilitarian principles the best value stereo, refrigerator, washing machine and, most prominently, motor car. If Which? connotes images of acquisitive materialism, its influence, nevertheless, has been immense. When it started the magazine was alone in its field. Now, it is hard to open any magazine, newspaper or weekend supplement that does not offer some comparative advice on a particular set of branded goods or services.

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