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The Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer Paperback – Apr 20 2004

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
worth the wade through the words Aug. 4 2005
By John Dough-nut - Published on
Format: Paperback
In very academic prose, Cook manages to make the case for his provacatives views. He finds in the history of the children's clothing industry in the US from 1917-1962, a growing ethos to see the world from the "child's point of view" (something he awkwardly calls "pediocularity"). In painstaking detail in some places, Cook shows how the growing clothing industry increasingly shaped the fixtures, floor plans and overall design of children's stores to be oriented to kids' viewpoints rather than the mothers'. One result, he claims, is that children have gained the status of persons in our culture because their "needs" and desires are catered to, not just by the clothing industry, but by all parts of our culture--often even over adults. Among the interesting cases are: how the "toddler" was invented by industry and the "preteen" girl in the 1950s as the forerunner of today's "tween." If you are into this sort of reading, it pays off well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Cook's Tour Aug. 5 2007
By Ian Gordon - Published on
Format: Paperback
Marketing to children is tricky business. Just what is a child? Are children naturally innocent? And is it appropriate to direct advertising to children as if they are capable of making consumption decisions? Daniel Thomas Cook's wonderful book guides us through many of these issues as they applied to America in the twentieth century. He discusses competing notions of childhood and motherhood and how advertisers and merchants appealed to an array of sentiments. But marketers increasingly pitched their goods to a child's viewpoint rather than a mother's. This shift, which Cook labels `pediocularity', decentered the adult view and privileged the child's. In this process parents had to be educated to understand the importance of seeing from the child's point of view. And children still needed to be educated so as to discern quality and value, but the very meaning of quality and value became constricted and tied ipso facto to the market.

Cook's sources are trade journals and he makes good use of these sources, but some case studies of particular companies might have strengthned his argument. But as the blurb on the book's back cover says it is `a must read for all scholars of consumer society'.