The commodification of childhood. The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer by Daniel Thomas Cook 2022-10-28
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The commodification of childhood refers to the process by which childhood is transformed into a commodity that can be bought and sold. This can take many forms, from the marketing of toys and other consumer goods to children, to the exploitation of children for labor or entertainment.
One of the most visible ways in which childhood is commodified is through the marketing of toys and other consumer goods to children. Companies often use advertisements, movies, and television shows to promote their products to children, and they often use characters and themes that are popular with children to make their products more appealing. This can create a consumer culture in which children are encouraged to constantly desire and demand new products, leading to a cycle of consumerism that can be difficult for families to break.
Another way in which childhood is commodified is through the exploitation of children for labor or entertainment. Child labor has long been a problem in many parts of the world, with children being forced to work in factories, mines, and other dangerous environments. Even in countries where child labor is illegal, children may be forced to work in informal or underground economies, where they may be subject to abuse and exploitation. Similarly, children may also be exploited for entertainment, such as through child beauty pageants or as child actors in movies or television shows.
The commodification of childhood can have serious consequences for children and their families. Children who are constantly bombarded with advertisements for consumer goods may develop unhealthy consumer habits that can lead to financial problems for their families. Children who are forced to work or who are exploited for entertainment may be denied an education and may be subjected to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse.
There are efforts being made to address the commodification of childhood, such as campaigns to raise awareness about the issue and to promote more responsible marketing practices. However, the commodification of childhood remains a complex and multifaceted problem that requires the efforts of governments, businesses, and communities to address.
The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the ...
A number of historical trajectories converge in the early twentieth century to make the emergence of a nascent commercial world of childhood possible and viable. Initially serving as funeral effigies, portraits of dead children began to be commissioned by families who could afford to memorialize the child in this way for home display. They have profited from an explosion of expenditures for, and, even more importantly, by children. It addresses an important area of children's culture in a substantive and illuminating way, and provides a welcome addition for those interested in both children and marketing. In the context of American Puritanism, childish innocence and weakness were an invitation for Satan to do his works. Clothing, in other words, was organized by type rather than age.
Cook describes how in the early twentieth century merchants, manufacturers, and advertisers of children's clothing began to aim commercial messages at the child rather than the mother. While The Commodification of Childhood contains many important insights, it also contains its share of flaws. For a journalistic account of the commercialization among teens, see Alissa Quart, Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers New York: Perseus, 2003 Some of these texts explicitly address the question of the commodification of childhood, although the literature has yet to settle on a precise definition, and meanings and uses vary widely. It is beautifully written and engaging from the first word. As publisher of the trade journal Infants' Department, George Earnshaw played a pivotal role in pressing retailers to devote floor space and specially trained salesclerks to children's departments.
They justified targeting child consumers by carefully matching their marketing appeals to prevailing social conventions about motherhood. This is a figure whose meanings increasingly became subject to public scrutiny, interpretation, and contestation. I read selectively in the trade literature. Labor power, readers of Capital will remember, is a peculiar commodity, because under capitalist social relations, it is sold on a market, but not necessarily produced for that purpose. Ben Fowkes Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976. My aim in this research was to identify and understand how children are being marketed to and how that has changed over time. Children, if they were to assume their rightful place in the divine order, had to do so on their feet, not on their hands and knees.
Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer
But if I knit the sweater at home for the purpose of selling it, it becomes commodified. Religious conversion implies that human nature is a malleable thing, that children and others possessed the ability to change. The Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer. Just as there is no unringing of a bell, there is no way to reverse innocence lost; it is by necessity a prior and primary state of affairs, like the possession of a soul. Three trends in the field of marketing to children help reveal the processes of commodification that are now occurring on a wide scale: the rise of naturalistic research, peer-to-peer marketing, and the new discourse on kid empowerment. Cook's analysis of the development of the children's clothing market in the United States is a valuable addition to the literature on twentieth-century American marketing and social history.
The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer by Daniel Thomas Cook
This phrase ordinarily refers to a process in which children are literally bought and sold, for example, into a state of sexual bondage or other forms of productive labor, such as plantation or factory work. Middle-class mothers transformed their imputed status as moral caretakers into political action in the Progressive Era roughly 1890-1920 , mounting a number of campaigns and creating a number of institutions which sought to improve the health and well-being of mothers and children. Before the eighteenth century, historians argue, parental attitudes toward children were anything but loving. Once the labor process commences, labor itself is the relevant input. The crucial transformation is the eventual segregation of adults' from children's worlds.
The Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer / Edition 1 by Daniel Thomas Cook
They create in-depth research that they then sell. The Commodification of Childhood begins with the publication of the children's wear industry's first trade journal, The Infants' Department, in 1917 and extends into the early 1960s, by which time the changes Cook chronicles were largely complete. What happens to Cook's concept of pediocularity when we factor in the divergent consumer experiences of working-class and minority children? Most strikingly, in the 1930s children's clothing departments were divided and subdivided into a range of gender and age groupings. Parents maintained a detached stance from their newborns, Stone says, indicated by the practice of giving the same name to two living siblings, expecting that one would die. The innocent child may be weak and easily influenced by Satan or some other form of pollution, but it can also be guided in proper or desirable directions. Cook also sidesteps an analysis of the class dynamics that shaped children's consumerism.
The Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer.
Aries cites supporting evidence to this effect, including how medieval adults had engaged in activities now generally associated with children, like playing games and reading fairy tales among themselves. Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. As industry segmentation accelerated in the 1940s and 1950s, retailers became savvier in appealing to preteen and teenage girls. Somewhat surprisingly, Cook's narrative neglects children's agency. Primary among this child's distinguishing characteristics are its naturalness, its innocence, and the naturalness of its innocence. They provide children with cultural products such as television programming, movies, and web content. Other historians tend to locate the change in sentiments toward children in something other than a decrease in infant mortality.
The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer
As improvements in medical science and sanitation allowed more and more children to live, Stone argues, parents were freed to over them love and devotion. But it is increasingly the case that advertisers and marketers are also involved in a different type of commodification: they are influential in actually producing children—that is, in raising, educating, forming, and shaping them. Edward Shorter blames unknowing mothers for what he sees as the widespread neglect of children. What other ways of seeing and being does pediocularity privilege besides the child's point of view? Childhood innocence retains a sense of the sacred in secularized conceptions of children by the necessary insistence that it is an original and natural state of affairs, only to be corrupted by adult intervention or by virtue of life experience. He sees these relations as independent sources of historical change, not tied to technological or social innovation, but to psycho-historical factors. By the late 1920s, department stores and chains like Sears and Montgomery Ward began including children's departments that catered to school-age boys and girls. These omissions leave several important questions unanswered.
Cook provides an informative account of how children's wear merchandising became increasingly segmented and child focused. Lloyd deMause characterizes parent-child relations at this time as involving a great deal of infanticide and abandonment. The image of the Romantic child replaces what we have lost, or what we fear to lose. In translating such advice, women's magazines encouraged parents to consider children's preferences and concerns about fitting in with their peers when selecting clothing. Aries is not without his critics.