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The Material Child Paperback – Oct 10 2011
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"The Material Child is well-structured, easy to read and informative ... By using a sociocultural approach, Buckingham highlights the importance of examining the 'whole picture' rather than just focusing on individual aspects of consumption. The Material Child has wide appeal and will be of interest to individuals working in childhood or cultural studies, education, media, marketing and politics."
Cultural Studies Review
"The Material Child cuts through the sanctimonious moral rhetorics and panics of contemporary life illuminating the complexities that have made the child consumer the site of unrelenting cultural anxiety. With characteristic insightful and deft analysis, David Buckingham successfully reframes how we might comprehend public debates regarding children and the commercial world and thus how we may forge new responses to ongoing changes in economic and social life. This work immediately takes its place in as a standard and must-read for anyone interested in childhood, politics, media and consumer culture."
Daniel Thomas Cook, Rutgers University
"This book represents a timely and most welcome intervention into the polarised and emotive debates about children and consumer culture. David Buckingham takes us on an authoritative journey through the twists and turns of the arguments towards a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of the unequal diverse and relationships children now have with the global commercial markets. This book is essential reading for those seeking to understand children's experiences of living in contemporary capitalist societies."
Allison James, University of Sheffield
From the Back Cover
Children today are growing up in an increasingly commercialised world. But should we see them as victims of manipulative marketing, or as competent participants in consumer culture?
The Material Child provides a comprehensive critical overview of debates about children’s changing engagement with the commercial market. It moves from broad overviews of the theory and history of children’s consumption to insightful case studies of key areas such as obesity, sexualisation, children’s broadcasting and education.
In the process, it challenges much of the received wisdom about the effects of advertising and marketing, arguing for a more balanced account that locates children’s consumption within a broader analysis of social relationships, for example within the family and the peer group. While refuting the popular view of children as incompetent and vulnerable consumers that is adopted by many campaigners, it also rejects the easy celebration of consumption as an expression of children’s power and autonomy.
Written by one of the leading international scholars in the field, The Material Child will be of interest to students, researchers and policy-makers, as well as parents, teachers and others who work directly with children.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In style, his arguments are almost Talmudic, laying out an array of alternatives before finally presenting the view that he believes should hold sway. That's because Buckingham is as interested in how problems are constructed as he is in answers. He rejects painting children as victims, deftly balancing the notion that children have "agency" with market and political limits on authentic choice. Refusing to see children as if they are somehow separate from society, he examines the complex ways that children (and their parents) negotiate the cultures in which they live, including reminders that there have been significant historical shifts in the construction of childhood. As a result, there is great value in this book, even if you don't live in the UK or agree with Buckingham's specific positions on the issues he reviews.
Buckingham's approach is a welcome alternative to the polemic and reductionist approaches so common to claims about media and children. He challenges researchers and cultural critics to lay their cards on the table in terms of assumptions about childhood, culture, and class. For example, his discussion of childhood obesity raises questions about the role of pr from the weight loss and pharmaceutical industries, the cultural meanings of food and shared meals, and even the opportunity that problematizing weight creates to impose supervision on the poor (who, as a group, have higher obesity rates than their wealthier counterparts).
Throughout, Buckingham is careful to draw out the impact of socioeconomic class on the way that issues play out in the real world. Using Buckingham's approach to follow arguments to their logical conclusions, it's hard not wonder why the voices demanding a ban on advertising to children and aren't calling for an end to capitalism as well.
Finally, this is an important book for media literacy educators. By asking questions about purpose, authorship, and impact of those engaged in debates about media effects on children, Buckingham challenges those who propose media literacy education as a way to provide immunity from cultural influences that they don't like. The background he provides in these pages explains why media literacy has to be focused on education and critical thinking rather than inoculation.