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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Duke Univ Pr (Tx) (April 20 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082233268X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822332688
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.3 x 21.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,986,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"[E]xtremely interesting."
--Michael Zakim," Business History Review"

"[W]ell-researched. . . . Cook provides excellent reviews of the literature on the invention of childhood."
--Catherine Hakim, "Time Literary Supplement"

"To learn more about how the marketplace has paid attention to our children, read "The Commodification of Childhood,""
--Daniel Gross, "US Airways Magazine"

"This brief but important book exemplifies how historians and other social scientists can learn from each other."
--Howard P. Chudacoff, "American Historical Review"

"I agree with the blurb on the book's back cover that it is a 'must read for all scholars of consumer society.'"
--Ian Gordon," Australasian Journal of American Studies"

"[T]hought-provoking. . . . [A]n informative account of how children's wear merchandising became increasingly segmented and child-focused."
--Lisa Jacobson," Journal of Social History"

"All those with an interest in the history of childhood--and anyone with a resident child consumer--should read this short and accessible study."
--Jacqueline K. Dirks, "Technology and Culture"

"This is a fascinating book which makes a critical intervention into debates about childhood and consumer culture. It is beautifully written and engaging from the first word."
--Dale Southerton, "British Journal of Sociology"

"Cook's observations about the marketing of children's clothing provide a clear perspective on the ways in which larger trends in consumer culture played out in a single industry. . . ."
--Julia L. Mickenberg, "American Quarterly"

"This well-researched, eloquent book is a valuable contribution to the literature on the development of consumer culture, shopping, commodification, and department stores in the 20th century. It will prove instructive to scholars in sociology, history, cultural studies, and marketing."
--Tally Katz-Gerro, "American Journal of Sociology"

"Cook's work will be of interest to scholars of retailing and marketing history and speaks more broadly to the social history of twentieth-century America. . . . 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."
--Evan Roberts, "Enterprise and Society"

"The story is fascinating and sheds light not only on an industry that takes in hundreds of billions of dollars a year, but also on the nature of childhood and the rise of a children's consumer culture. . . . [I]t 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."
--Kathy Merlock Jackson, "The Journal of American Culture"

"This study of the development of the children's clothing industry is a welcome addition to two burgeoning fields: the history of childhood and the history of American consumerism. . . . The argument is most persuasive when the author supplements the trade journal articles that form the bulk of the source material. . . . [T]he theoretical sophistication of the author illuminates more than it obscures."
--William R. Scott, "History: Reviews of New Books"

"[Daniel Cook] has crafted a deeply researched, wide-ranging exploration of twentieth-century American childhood, placing [him] squarely in the forefront of a growing interdisciplinary literature on the culture of childhood. . . . Often brilliant and usually provocative as well, Cook sets a high bar for interdisciplinary studies of children as culture-creators and the cultural construction of childhood as morally contested terrain."
--Gail S. Murray," Reviews in American History"

"Blending the sociologist's theoretical rigor with the historian's attention to detail and change, Daniel Thomas Cook offers us a striking and original explanation of how twentieth-century notions of childhood together with new marketing practices led to the modern autonomous child."--Gary Cross, author of "The Cute and the Cool: Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children's Culture"

From the Back Cover

"Daniel Thomas Cook's "The Commodification of Childhood" is a pioneering and major contribution to our understanding of consumer culture. On the basis of his detailed and fascinating examination of children's clothing marketing through the twentieth century, Cook constructs a larger template for understanding the complex and evolving relations between consumers and marketers. The theoretical discussions are a tour de force. A must-read for all scholars of consumer society."--Juliet B. Schor, author of "The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa7ffe0b4) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7e09ae0) out of 5 stars 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
HASH(0xa839daf8) out of 5 stars 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'.