Synopses & Reviews
"Tying shoelaces, jumping rope, listening to circle-time stories, Allison Pugh immersed herself in the busyand#151;and commercial-studdedand#151;worlds of schoolchildren. In this brilliantly argued, lyrically written and riveting book, Pugh asks how kids cope with the incessant ads for the must-have toy, the latest shoe, the coolest game. Children don't cave into or resist capitalism, Pugh tells us. They build worlds of their own from it. 'Corporate marketing acts as a powerful mint,' she writes, 'always churning out shinier coinage, but not always dictating whether or how those tokens are used.' They set up their own Lilliputian 'economies of dignity' which poignantly determine who does and doesn't feel worthy of belonging to the group. A complement to Juliet Schor's Born to Buy
, Pugh's book is a must-read."and#151;Arlie Hochschild, author of The Time Bind
and The Commercialization of Intimate Life
"Pugh is curious about what parents buy for their kids, what they refuse to buy, and why they make the decisions they do. But this isn't a marketing book. Far from it: Pugh is very critical of corporations that cynically target young children. But she is attempting to understand the social and emotional consequences of this commercial culture for children and for family life. She arguesand#151;quite convincinglyand#151;that consumerism has negatively impacted the quality of relationships in families and in society in general. By focusing on consumption instead of production, she also develops a fresh new approach to analyzing social inequality."and#151;Christine Williams, author of Inside Toyland: Working, Shopping, and Social Inequality
"In her richly documented ethnographic study, Allison Pugh first identifies, then resolves, an important contrast in American working-class and middle-class approaches to their children's acquisition of consumer goods: symbolic indulgence on the working-class side, symbolic deprivation on the middle-class side. Her work offers deep insights into children's experience in contemporary America."and#151;Viviana Zelizer, Princeton University
"Written with extraordinary grace and insight, Allison Pugh has given us a truly original and fresh way of understanding the material desires of children. With vivid interviews, she shows with both subtlety and force how the emotional needs of children and their parents has shaped overconsumption today. This should be read well beyond the academy and for a long time."and#151;Gary Cross, author of An All-Consuming Century
"This imaginative and beautifully written book makes a significant contribution to the study of parents, children, consumption, and lived experiences of social inequality."and#151;Barrie Thorne, author of Gender Play
"Going well beyond the standard story of manipulative advertising that turns our kids into greedy little consumption addicts, Longing and Belonging provides a fascinating portrait of how children themselves come to translate Gameboys and Nikes into personal dignity and social membership. This smart and highly readable book offers multiple insights into the cultures of class, race, parenting, and childhood in an increasingly materialistic America."and#151;Sharon Hays, author of Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform
"With Longing and Belonging, Allison Pugh brings the study of children's consumer lives to a level of insight and clarity rarely encountered in the often panic-stricken and sanctimonious discussions surrounding kids and commercial life. Skillfully navigating the social landscape where children, inequality and consumer culture intersect, Pugh combines ethnographic empathy with deft sociological analysis in a manner that invites the reader to enter children's lives and see the world from their perspectives. This work represents a break from the received wisdom about children and commercialism and surely will mark a transition to new and thoughtful approaches to thinking about how consumption matters in everyday life."and#151;Daniel Thomas Cook, author of The Commodification of Childhood
While becoming less relevant in the United States, shopping malls are booming throughout urban Latin America. But what does this mean on the ground? Are shopping malls a sign of the region's "coming of age"? El Mall
is the first book to answer these questions and explore how malls and consumption are shaping the conversation about class and social inequality in Latin America.
Through original and insightful ethnography, Davila shows that class in the neoliberal city is increasingly defined by the shopping habits of ordinary people. Moving from the global operations of the shopping mall industry to the experience of shopping in places like Bogota, Colombia, El Mall is an indispensable book for scholars and students interested in consumerism and neoliberal politics in Latin America and the world.
Arlene Dand#225;vila brilliantly considers the cultural politics of urban space in this lively exploration of Puerto Rican and Latino experience in New York, the global center of culture and consumption, where Latinos are now the biggest minority group. Analyzing the simultaneous gentrification and Latinization of what is known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, Barrio Dreams
makes a compelling case thatand#151;despite neoliberalism's race-and ethnicity-free tenetsand#151;dreams of economic empowerment are never devoid of distinct racial and ethnic considerations.
Dand#225;vila scrutinizes dramatic shifts in housing, the growth of charter schools, and the enactment of Empowerment Zone legislation that promises upward mobility and empowerment while shutting out many longtime residents. Foregrounding privatization and consumption, she offers an innovative look at the marketing of Latino space. She emphasizes class among Latinos while touching on black-Latino and Mexican-Puerto Rican relations. Providing a unique multifaceted view of the place of Latinos in the changing urban landscape, Barrio Dreams is one of the most nuanced and original examinations of the complex social and economic forces shaping our cities today.
"Dand#225;vila's keen insights into the politics of marketing ethnicity, community marginalization and class divisions cuts through neo-liberal postures to glaringly reveal the real issue - who will construct (and control) East Harlem's future? Well versed in the scholarship, Dand#225;vila has produced a book that is essential for understanding the increasingly important role and aspirations of Puerto Rican and Latino communities in New York's history."and#151;Virginia Sand#225;nchez Korrol, author of From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City
"Providing an expansive ethnographic portal into New York's famous 'El Barrio,' Davila documents the ways in which the neighborhood's Latino cultures can be commodified as a magnet for gentrification as well as providing an obstacle to it. An absorbing read providing a unique contemporary perspective on East Harlem."and#151;Neil Smith, author of American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization
"Unlike most ethnographers of the urban poor in search of authentic street experience, Dand#225;vila gives us an ethnography of power. With rich insights and sensitivity, she documents the pitched battles between developers, politicians, long-time residents, newcomers, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and African Americans over space, gentrification and cultural representation in East Harlem. Dand#225;vila peels back the many layers of local stories in order to reveal a complex, national story of resistance against urban neoliberalism."and#151;Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
In The Devil behind the Mirror, Steven Gregory provides a compelling and intimate account of the impact that transnational processes associated with globalization are having on the lives and livelihoods of people in the Dominican Republic. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the adjacent towns of Boca Chica and Andrand#233;s, Gregory's study deftly demonstrates how transnational flows of capital, culture, and people are mediated by contextually specific power relations, politics, and history. He explores such topics as the informal economy, the making of a telenova, sex tourism, and racism and discrimination against Haitians, who occupy the lowest rung on the Dominican economic ladder. Innovative, beautifully written, and now updated with a new preface,and#160;The Devil behind the Mirror masterfully situates the analysis of global economic change in everyday lives.
Both Hollywood and corporate America are taking note of the marketing power of the growing Latino population in the United States. And as salsa takes over both the dance floor and the condiment shelf, the influence of Latin culture is gaining momentum in American society as a whole. Yet the increasing visibility of Latinos in mainstream culture has not been accompanied by a similar level of economic parity or political enfranchisement. In this important, original, and entertaining book, Arlene Dand#225;vila provides a critical examination of the Hispanic marketing industry and of its role in the making and marketing of U.S. Latinos.
Dand#225;vila finds that Latinos' increased popularity in the marketplace is simultaneously accompanied by their growing exotification and invisibility. She scrutinizes the complex interests that are involved in the public representation of Latinos as a generic and culturally distinct people and questions the homogeneity of the different Latino subnationalities that supposedly comprise the same people and group of consumers. In a fascinating discussion of how populations have become reconfigured as market segments, she shows that the market and marketing discourse become important terrains where Latinos debate their social identities and public standing.
"Davila has entered the back rooms of a new and important sector of the advertising industry, shedding light on the people and businesses that are working to exploit the marketing hot buttons of Hispanic USA. Latinos, Inc.
could become a scholarly milestone, a vivid portrayal of the strange marriage between cultural anthropology and merchandising strategies that forms an elemental ingredient of U.S. consumer society."and#151;Stuart Ewen, author of PR! A Social History of Spin
"A work derived from prodigious fieldwork that sets a standard for the ethnography of cultural institutions in their varied corporate forms and market participations. Latinos Inc. provides a rich, fascinating, and fresh empirical venue for theories of identity and ethnicity in the U.S."and#151;George Marcus, author of Ethnography Through Thick andThin
"An insightful and compelling account of Hispanic marketing and television as it becomes a significant force in U.S. corporate media. In its rigorous attention to the culture of marketing, Latinos, Inc. fills a significant void within the literature on mass communications, marketing, and television studies."and#151;Chon A. Noriega, author of Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema
"Davila is the first to show us the world of Latin media through the eyes of advertising and programming professionals; the first to comprehend how Spanish language network television has reconfigured Latino identity; and the first to fully delineate the plurality and heterogeneity of Latino audiences. She enables us to understand the formative role played by advertising and commercial culture in shaping the contours of contemporary Latino/a identities. Latinos, Inc. sets a new standard for scholarship in ethnic studies and cultural studies."and#151;George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness : How White People Profit from Identity Politics
Even as they see their wages go down and their buying power decrease, many parents are still putting their kids' material desires first. These parents struggle with how to handle children's consumer wants, which continue unabated despite the economic downturn. And, indeed, parents and other adults continue to spend billions of dollars on children every year. Why do children seem to desire so much, so often, so soon, and why do parents capitulate so readily? To determine what forces lie behind the onslaught of Nintendo Wiis and Bratz dolls, Allison J. Pugh spent three years observing and interviewing children and their families. In Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture, Pugh teases out the complex factors that contribute to how we buy, from lunchroom conversations about Game Boys to the stark inequalities facing American children. Pugh finds that children's desires stem less from striving for status or falling victim to advertising than from their yearning to join the conversation at school or in the neighborhood. Most parents respond to children's need to belong by buying the particular goods and experiences that act as passports in children's social worlds, because they sympathize with their children's fear of being different from their peers. Even under financial constraints, families prioritize children "feeling normal". Pugh masterfully illuminates the surprising similarities in the fears and hopes of parents and children from vastly different social contexts, showing that while corporate marketing and materialism play a part in the commodification of childhood, at the heart of the matter is the desire to belong.
About the Author
Arlene Dand#225;vila is Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at New York University. She is the author of Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People (California, 2001) and Sponsored Identities: Cultural Politics in Puerto Rico (1997) and coeditor of Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York (2001).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface to the 2012 Edition
Mediating Identities. Advertising: The Privilege of Commercial Discourse. Hispanic/Latino. Following the Corporate Intellectual: Doing Fieldwork on a Fieldless Site.
Chapter 1. and#147;Donand#8217;t Panic, Iand#8217;m Hispanicand#8221;: The Trends and Economy of Cultural Flows
Shaping Hispanidad from Latin America. The Ethnic Division of Cultural Labor. The Category That Made Us the Same. Global Trends: Segmenting and Containing the Market.
Chapter 2. Knowledges: Facts and Fictions of a People as a Market
The Turn to Research. Maneuvers in the Market. And Donand#8217;t Forget That We All Eat Rice and Beans (or Habichuelas, Porotes, Frijoles . . . ).
Chapter 3. Images: Producing Culture for the Market
The Nation. The Values. Nationalism, Nostalgia, and Ethnic Pride. The Latin Look and and#147;Walter Cronkite Spanish,and#8221;. and#147;The Nation and Its Fragments,and#8221;.
Chapter 4. Screening the Image
Through Corporate Eyes. The Virginal Mom and Other Negotiations. Identity Politics. The Real or Wannabe Hispanic.
Chapter 5. Language and Culture in the Media Battle Zone
Univision: Toward One Vision / One Culture. The Price of Synergy. Telemundo: and#147;The Best of Both Worlds,and#8221;. The Terrain of Latinidad: Toward the Best of One or Two Worlds?.
Chapter 6. The Focus (or Fuck Us) Group: Consumers Talk Back, or Do They?
The Focus Group. Quandaries of Representation. Culture and Color.
Chapter 7. Selling Marginality: The Business of Culture
Marketing African Americans: Marketing and#147;by Any Means Necessary,and#8221;. Marketing to the Model Minority Consumer. Sensitive People, Docile Consumers.