The Commodification of Childhood

The Commodification of Childhood

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In this revealing social history, Daniel Thomas Cook explores the roots of childrena€™s consumer culturea€”and the commodification of childhood itselfa€”by looking at the rise, growth, and segmentation of the childrena€™s clothing industry. Cook describes how in the early twentieth century merchants, manufacturers, and advertisers of childrena€™s clothing began to aim commercial messages at the child rather than the mother. Cook situates this fundamental shift in perspective within the broader transformation of the child into a legitimate, individualized, self-contained consumer. The Commodification of Childhood begins with the publication of the childrena€™s wear industrya€™s first trade journal, The Infantsa€™ Department, in 1917 and extends into the early 1960s, by which time the changes Cook chronicles were largely complete. Analyzing trade journals and other documentary sources, Cook shows how the industry created a market by developing and promulgating new understandings of the a€œnature, a€ needs, and motivations of the child consumer. He discusses various ways that discursive constructions of the consuming child were made material: in the creation of separate childrena€™s clothing departments, in their segmentation and layout by age and gender gradations (such as infant, toddler, boys, girls, tweens, and teens), in merchantsa€™ treatment of children as individuals on the retail floor, and in displays designed to appeal directly to children. Ultimately, The Commodification of Childhood provides a compelling argument that any consideration of a€œthe childa€ must necessarily take into account how childhood came to be understood through, and structured by, a market idiom.73 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 29a€“30 sacred vs. profane value of children, 7a€“13, 16, 151, 158 n. ... 99a€“100 school shootings, 148 Schunemana#39;s (Minneapolis), 120 scientific motherhood, 35a€“36 Sears, 66, 83 Sears catalogue, 47 Seiter, Ellen, 5, 19, 67, 90, ... 10a€“11, 24, 32, 145, 149 settlement houses, 34 Seventeen, 131 sewing machines, 44 sexuality, 99, 108, 128, 136, 142a€“43 Sherry, John F., Jr., 158 n.

Title:The Commodification of Childhood
Author: Daniel Thomas Cook
Publisher:Duke University Press - 2004-03-30

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