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Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Cultureby Juliet B. Schor
Synopses & Reviews
Ads aimed at kids are virtually everywhere — in classrooms and textbooks, on the Internet, even at slumber parties and the playground. Product placement and other innovations have introduced more subtle advertising to movies and television. Companies are enlisting children as guerrilla marketers, targeting their friends and families. Even trusted social institutions such as the Girl Scouts are teaming up with marketers. Drawing on her own survey research and unprecedented access to the advertising industry, New York Times bestselling author and leading cultural and economic authority Juliet Schor examines how a marketing effort of vast size, scope, and effectiveness has created "commercialized children."
Schor, author of The Overworked American and The Overspent American, looks at the broad implications of this strategy. Sophisticated advertising strategies convince kids that products are necessary to their social survival. Ads affect not just what they want to buy, but who they think they are and how they feel about themselves. Based on long-term analysis, Schor reverses the conventional notion of causality: it's not just that problem kids become overly involved in the values of consumerism; it's that kids who are overly involved in the values of consumerism become problem kids. In this revelatory and crucial book, Schor also 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.
"According to consumerism and economics expert Schor (The Overspent American), the average 10-year-old has memorized about 400 brands, the average kindergartner can identify some 300 logos and from as early as age two kids are 'bonded to brands.' Some may call it brainwashing, others say it's genius; regardless of how you see it, the approach is the same: target young kids directly and consistently, appeal to them and not the adults in their lives and get your product name in their heads from as early an age as possible. From TV shows and toys to video games, snacks and clothing, kids today, according to Schor, know too much yet understand too little, sopping up subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages of 'buy, buy, buy.' Drawing on a significant body of research, including interviews with everyone from advertising executives to the kids themselves, Schor exposes what she believes to be a huge cesspool of materialism, consumerism and commercialization that could be, and perhaps already is, leading to a generation of kids with no concept of what is important and truly necessary in life. By offering up her own ideas of what can be done by parents, educators, advertisers and others to lessen these problems, Schor goes beyond uncovering the problem and into the realm of concrete solutions. Agent, Gerry McCauley. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Since when did children become the favored demographic of advertisers? In...Born to Buy, sociologist Juliet B. Schor dissects the implications of this disturbing trend and offers some startling conclusions." Los Angeles Times
"Even if you agree with Schor...you might find her tone a little strident at times....But even if Schor bangs you over the head with her antimarketing message, her outrage is a needed voice amid the din of kiddie commercialism." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"There must be a special circle of hell designed for those who came up with the notion of marketing to young kids, and if so, Juliet Schor is its Dante — this is a tremendous book, in the tradition of Fast Food Nation." Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age
"Juliet Schor is a human laser beam. Her careful research and brilliant analysis are presented in lucid prose. Plato defined education as teaching our children to find pleasure in the right things. Most parents do their best, but they are fighting a culture that educates our children to value all the wrong things. Children are suffering mentally, physically, and spiritually. Schor's book can put us on a path toward once again protecting our children. This may be the most important book of 2004." Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Letters to a Young Therapist
"Born to Buy is an eye-opener. It illuminates marketers' unrelenting exploitation of our youth; the well-being of children has been made secondary to maximizing corporate profit. This book is certain to shake us out of our complacency; I highly recommend it." Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children's Center, Boston, Mass.
"Born to Buy is so grounded in appalling data about both kids and advertising companies, it has the effect of making even the most TV-and-advertising-wary parents among us realize that we haven't been half vigilant enough." Amy Bloom, O, The Oprah Magazine
"What a fascinating and mobilizing book! No mother or father intends to turn over child-rearing to the consumer culture, but the stress and speed of life wear down their resolve, making television, toys, electronics, and branding a kind of 'shadow parent' that literally spoils our children. Juliet Schor gives us ample evidence of the cost — to our children and society — of this drift into corporation raised kids. Born to Buy will inspire anyone concerned with the next generation." Vicki Robin, coauthor of Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
"Juliet Schor has established herself as a sharp observer and critic of American commercialism. In Born to Buy, this social analyst and concerned mother turns her attention to marketing for children, combining observation in the advertising industry, interviews in a Boston suburb, and close study of merchandising methods. Readers need not agree with all her arguments to learn plenty about how relations between children and merchandising media are changing and what threats to children's well-being those changes are producing." Viviana Zelizer, author of Pricing the Priceless Child and The Social Meaning of Money
"This brilliant, informative, and deeply important book tells us what the advertisers don't — the more advertising children see and hear, the more likely they are to be depressed and anxious and to suffer family conflict. The American dream isn't something we buy, Schor wisely tells us; it's something we make and can, if broken, repair. A book that will start a revolution..." Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work and The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work
New York Times bestselling author and leading cultural and economic authority Juliet Schor exposes the ways big business targets younger and younger children as consumers — and the effects on childhood, community, and culture.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 9
2 The changing world of children's consumption 19
3 From Tony the tiger to Slime time live: the content of commercial messages 39
4 The virus unleashed: ads infiltrate everyday life 69
5 Captive audiences: the commercialization of public schools 85
6 Dissecting the child consumer: the new intrusive research 99
7 Habit formation: selling kids on junk food, drugs, and violence 119
8 How consumer culture undermines children's well-being 141
9 Empowered or seduced?: the debate about advertising and marketing to kids 177
10 Decommercializing childhood: beyond Big Bird, Bratz dolls, and the Back Street Boys 189
App Commercial alert's parents' bill of rights 217
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