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PLENARY SESSION SPEAKERS

15th OF DECEMBER 2010, QUAI BRANLY MUSEUM, PARIS

Daniel Thomas COOK

Curriculum vitae

Associate Professor of Childhood Studies, Associate Professor of Sociology, Associate Member of the Center for Children and Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ, 2007-present.

Associate Professor, Department of Advertising, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, 2005-2007.

International Fellow, Cultures of Consumption Programme, Birkbeck College, London, 2007.

Visiting Scholar, European Center for Children’s Products, University of Poitiers, Angoulême, France, 2006.

Editor, Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 2008-present.

Editorial Advisory Board Member, Young Consumers, 2006-present.

Guest Editor Special Issue on "Qualitative Methods in Children’s Consumer Research",  10(4), 2009.

Editorial Board Member, Sociology Compass, 2006-present.

Advisory Board Member, Journal of Consumer Culture, 2000-present.  

Guest Editor, Special Issue on “Children’s Consumer Culture,”  July 2004.

Publications

Books

  • 2004, "The Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer". Durham, NC: Duke University Press. (Second Printing in 2009).

Artlicles/Chapters

  • 2010, Commercial Enculturation: Moving Beyond Consumer Socialization”. David Buckingham and Vebjørg Tingstad (eds.) Childhood and Consumer Culture Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave.
  • 2009, “Knowing the Child Consumer: Historical and Conceptual Insights on Qualitative Children’s Consumer Research”. Young Consumers 10(4),  269-282.
  • 2009, “Semantic Provisioning of Children’s Food: Commerce, Care and Maternal Practice”. Childhood. 16(3), 317-334.
  • 2008, “The Missing Child in Consumption Theory”. Journal of Consumer Culture, 8 (2), 219-243.
  • 2007, “The Disempowering Empowerment of Children’s Consumer ‘Choice’: Cultural Discourses of the Child Consumer in North America”. Society and Business Review, 2 (1), 37-52.

Summary of lecture

Children’s consumer culture refers to the institutional, material and symbolic arrangements which assist in organizing a young person’s involvement in, and movement through, the early life course in terms of commercial interests and values. Children are both subject to and arise as subjects in consumer contexts. The meanings which adhere to commercial goods are at once imposed upon children, childhood and their social worlds and are taken up by children as resources with which they create selves, identities and relationships.

Beginning in the early 1900s in the United States, an emergent set of institutions, practices and forms of knowledge began gradually coalescing around the social figure of the “child consumer.” Merchandisers, advertisers, designers and market researchers came to recognize “the child” as a consumer—i.e., as an economic agent with wants of her or his own as well as with a growing social right to be desirous of what the commerical world offered. The rise of the child as an agentive, knowing consumer has served as a counterweight to moral concerns expressed about commercial exploitation by framing children’s consumption as essentially a matter of choice rather than of persuasion or trickery.

The reach of children’s consumer culture extends beyond the child consumer proper and beyond the purchase of products and into changing definitions of the early life course. Increasingly specialized commercial goods, media and spaces made for children’s use have contributed to creating nuanced distinctions between different age grades of children and between genders, resulting in compartmentalized micro-markets and micro-cultures—e.g., the contemporary “tween.” Children themselves make use of the meanings and goods available to them to forge relationships among and make distinctions between peers and  between “children” and “adults.”