Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture

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9780684870564: Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture

Marketing targeted at kids is virtually everywhere -- in classrooms and textbooks, on the Internet, even at Girl Scout meetings, slumber parties, and the playground. Product placement and other innovations have introduced more subtle advertising to movies and television. Drawing on her own survey research and unprecedented access to the advertising industry, Juliet B. Schor, New York Times bestselling author of The Overworked American, examines how marketing efforts of vast size, scope, and effectiveness have created "commercialized children." Ads and their messages about sex, drugs, and food affect not just what children want to buy, but who they think they are. In this groundbreaking and crucial book, Schor looks at the consequences of the commercialization of childhood and provides guidelines for parents and teachers. What is at stake is the emotional and social well-being of our children.
Like Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia, and Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, Born to Buy is a major contribution to our understanding of a contemporary trend and its effects on the culture.

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Review:

Parents will be tempted to read Born to Buy as a kind of contemporary horror story, with ever more sophisticated marketing wunderkinds as Dr. Frankensteins and their children as the relentless monsters they create. Indeed, it's difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the avariciousness, omnipotence, and ingenuity of the advertising industry Juliet B. Schor portrays when it comes to transforming preschool kids into voracious, 'tude-infused consumers. Intermixing research data with anecdotal illustrations, Schor chronicles the rapid development of a once-shackled industry that now markets R-rated movies to 9-year-olds. The mind boggles at the notion that Seventeen magazine's target readership is now pre-teens. While Schor unearths a surplus of information on the effectiveness of advertising, she's not nearly as adept at proposing effective responses. Reacting to the power and creativity of the consumer culture with politically unfeasible regulation and parental diligence is a little like attacking Frankenstein's creature with torches. Still, Born to Buy is an eye-opening account of an industry that is commercializing childhood with remarkable effectiveness and insouciance. --Steven Stolder

About the Author:

Juliet B. Schor is the award-winning author of The Overworked American and The Overspent American. A recognized expert on consumerism, economics, and family studies, she teaches at Boston College and lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

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