ARGUMENT – Cook proposes “commercial enculturation,” a model to explain how children come to know and understand consumer culture.
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 a narrow view of what constitutes consumption. Instead, Cook proposes “commercial enculturation,” a model that is more in line within the current children’s studies conception of the child as an active and knowing participant in society. In this framework children interact with cultural objects, family, and peers and actively ascribe their own meanings. There are, in fact, many truths that each child encounters as they negotiate their own meaning through their own personal experiences and interactions with consumer goods. Also, in the commercial enculturation framework, consumption is not simply the act of purchasing goods. Children’s identities are formed through, among other things, their interactions with goods and that extends to the awareness of, and desire for, material possessions.
Cook critiques core assumptions of the consumer socialization framework.
Is this a significant departure from the old model or is it merely a terminology change? It would be helpful if Cook provided a corresponding methodology to ensure we do not fall into the old habits of the consumer socialization perspective.
Very useful model to use in research papers outlining how media (old and new) expose children to consumer culture and commercial concepts.