The Child Consumer

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The image on the cover of Ed Mayo’s influential “Consumer Kids” (2009) (see Fig. 1) draws our attention to the controversial child consumer identity, which has formed the focus of a flurry of popular critical publications about children and consumerism in recent years (Klein 2001, Linn 2004, Schor 2004). The visual depiction of the child fulfilling and detained in his consumerist role captures the common concern that children have been trapped in compulsive consumerism. Cook’s (2008) study of children and childhood as constitutive elements of consumption theory, however, challenges this traditional view. Critically evaluating children’s access to the world of commodities, the meanings and significance of parents’ consumption on behalf of children, he argues that “the child consumer is made well before it is born” (2008, p. 232). Rather than sentencing children to consumption for life, this acknowledgement places under question the dominant construction of children as “adult-in waiting” and suggests reconsiderations of notions of consumption, childhood and motherhood. Aspiring to a more critical view on children’s consumption, in this essay, I seek to offer an analysis of Cook’s observation and illustrate with examples from children’s consumption of clothing. https://ihaveadoubt.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/immagine-38.png Fig.1. Consumer Kids (2009) Aiming to define the nature of the child consumer, Cook’s (2008) observation approaches a fundamental question in the study of children’s consumption: “When does a child become a consumer?”. Research into children’s consumption of clothing has yet to address intensively this question, but writings on children of conspicuous consumption, consumer culture and the commercialisati... ... middle of paper ... ...ing Essentials - Marks and Spencer 2013. [video online] Available at: [Accessed 16 January 2014] Miller, D., 1987. Material Culture and Mass Consumption. London: Blackwell Pollehn, S., 2010. Sewing Clothes Kids Love. Minneapolis: Quayside Publishing Group Schor, J., 2004. Born to Buy. New York: Scribner Taylor, J., S., 2004. Introduction. In S., Taylor, L., Layne and D., Wozniak, eds, 2004. Consuming Motherhood, 2004, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Thompson, C., 1996. Caring Consumers: Gendered Consumption Meanings and the Juggling Lifestyle. Journal of Consumer Research, 22, 388–407 Woolgar, S., 2012. Ontological Child Consumption. In B., Sandin, J., Sohanna and A. Sparman, eds, Situating Child Consumption: Rethinking Values and Notions of Children, Childhood and Consumption. Lund: Nordic Academic Press

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