Tagged with toys and play

Englehardt, Tom. (1986) “The Shortcake Strategy”


ARGUMENT – After the deregulation of children’s advertising in the early 1980s, Children’s television shows were no longer designed to entertain, but to generate sales. Authorship shifted from TV studios to toy companies and advertising agencies that produced shows to function as program length commercials (PLCs) for licensed characters and their associated merchandising. Under this … Continue reading

Smith, Jacob. (2010) “The Books that Sing”


ARGUMENT Scholars generally consider children to be secondary “bit players” within consumer culture until the advent of television (Schor 2005).  Smith’s case study of children’s phonographs in the 1890-1930 period demonstrates that phonograph producers were “quick to recognize the importance of the child audience” (93). SUMMARY Children were approached indirectly (through parents/mothers) and directly in … Continue reading

Garvey, Ellen Gruber. (1996) The Adman in the Parlor

Garvey, Ellen Gruber. (1996) The Adman in the Parlor


ARGUMENT In the 1880s, advertising became a part of daily life and it socialized women and children (mostly girls) into adopting the new consumer culture. SUMMARY In The Adman in the Parlour, Garvey (1996) examines socio-cultural changes in the late nineteenth century to better understand the origins of women’s consumer culture. While most historians point … Continue reading

Formanek-Brunell, Miriam. (1992) “Sugar and Spite: The Politics of Doll Play in Nineteenth Century America”


ARGUMENT The author challenges the popular understanding that dolls limited girls’ development and restricted them to domestic and maternal responsibilities. Her studies of girls’ diaries, magazines, advice manuals and other primary sources finds that girls appropriated dolls and used them for purposes other than practicing their mothering skills. SUMMARY In the earlier part of the … 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