Posted in September 2014

Zelizer, Vivian, A. (1985) Pricing the Priceless Child

Zelizer, Vivian, A. (1985) Pricing the Priceless Child


ARGUMENT – Sociologist Vivian A. Zelizer argues that as nineteenth century children came to be valued less for their contribution to the family economy, they were appreciated more for their sentimental and emotional value. SUMMARY She concludes that notions of the “economically useless but emotionally priceless child” began to emerge in the 1870s and culminated … Continue reading

Mitchell, Claudia. (2010) “Researching Things, Objects, and Gendered Consumption in Childhood Studies”


ARGUMENT Materialism is the study of “things” such as toys and their marketing materials.  Mitchell argues for a “new materialism” in Children’s Studies in order to develop new theories and methods for understanding children’s role as consumers. SUMMARY Gendered Objects – Toys are often marked by gender signifiers in the form of colour, smell, texture, … Continue reading

Cross, Gary. (2010) “Valves of Adult Desire: The Regulation and Incitement of Children’s Consumption.”


ARGUMENT Cross points out the confusion that results when parents want to control children’s consumption and desire for goods (close down the valve of consumption) but at the same time parents enjoy giving gifts and pleasing their children with consumer goods (opening up the valve of consumption.) SUMMARY Advertisers did not frequently target children or … Continue reading

Cook, Daniel Thomas. (2010) “Commercial Enculturation: Moving Beyond Consumer Socialization.”


ARGUMENT – Cook proposes “commercial enculturation,” a model to explain how children come to know and understand consumer culture. SUMMARY Cook rejects the consumer socialization framework for two reasons. First, this notion is adult-centric and implies children’s ongoing experiences and understandings are somehow inferior to “real” adult truths. Second, he suggests that this model holds … Continue reading

Buckingham, David (2011) The Material Child.

Buckingham, David (2011) The Material Child.


ARGUMENT Buckingham rejects the traditional empowered verses exploited debate.  Children are not incompetent vulnerable consumers.  Nor do they express power and autonomy through consumption.  This book aims to re-frame how children’s consumption can be understood academically. SUMMARY Markets have not “invaded” childhood (the sacred v. the profane Cook 2004).  Buckingham suggests the dyadic (empowered vs. … Continue reading