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Curriculum vitae

David Buckingham is Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, London University, where he directs the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media.

He is also a Visiting Professor at the Norwegian Centre for Child Research in Trondheim,, and at the Open University. His research focuses on children’s and young people’s interactions with electronic media, and on media education.

He is currently directing a project on learning progression in media education; and has recently completed projects on childhood, ‘sexualisation’ and consumer culture, and on young people, the internet and civic participation. He is the author, co-author or editor of 24 books, including most recently Beyond Technology (2007), Youth, Identity and Digital Media (2008) and Video Cultures: Media Technology and Amateur Creativity (2009).


Key books include:

  • Beyond Technology: Children’s Learning in the Age of Digital Media Cambridge: Polity, 2007. Translated into Spanish.
  • Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture Cambridge: Polity, 2003. Translated into Japanese, Korean, Hungarian, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and Greek.
  • After the Death of Childhood: Growing Up in the Age of Electronic Media Cambridge, Polity Press, 2000. Translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Chinese, Italian, French and Korean.
  • The Making of Citizens: Young People, News and Politics London, Routledge, 2000.
  • Children Talking Television: The Making of Television Literacy, London, Falmer Press, 1993.

Summary of lecture

Children’s relationship with media and consumer culture has been the focus of increasing attention and debate over the past decade.

Children have become more and more important both as a market in their own right and as a means to reach adult markets.

Companies are using a much wider range of marketing techniques, which go well beyond conventional advertising; and they are targeting children directly at an ever-younger age.

However, growing numbers of commentators have criticised the apparent ‘commercialisation’ of childhood; and there have been calls in many countries for tighter regulation of marketing to children.

In this presentation, David Buckingham will draw on work he has been doing for a major UK Government report about ‘the impact of the commercial world on children’s well-being’, and on his other research in this area.

He will seek to challenge the terms in which the social issue of children’s consumption is typically framed and understood, and the sentimental views of childhood that tend to inform the debate.

He will argue that we need a broader view of commercial activity, which goes beyond advertising or marketing; and that we need to understand children’s consumption in relation to the consumption of parents, and indeed of the wider society.

He will pay particular attention to the changing role of media in this respect, challenging some of the more optimistic accounts of young people’s uses of digital media, and considering the commercial dimensions of forms such as social networking and mobile technologies.

Finally, he will argue that we need to look beyond familiar dichotomies between structure and agency that continue to characterise both public and academic debate in this area.