by Kelly Sharp | the Texas Observer
Juliet Schor’s latest book, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture, represents the culmination of many things: her training as an economist and sociologist, her ongoing analysis of consumer culture in previous books (The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure and The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting and the New Consumer), and her own experience as a mother. Born to Buy examines the increased involvement of children in consumer culture, specifically as targets of advertising, and the resulting effect on their well-being. Schor balances her well-researched presentation of rather alarming data with a voice that is not alarmist, but practical, informative, and readable.
In many ways her conclusion comes as no surprise. Readers may be surprised, however, by her data—namely, the sheer volume of marketing to which children are exposed. According to Schor, the advertising industry spent $100 million on marketing to children in 1983; by 2004 that amount had increased to $15 billion. Advertisements saturate television, radio, and print media. More disturbing, however, is the extent to which marketers have infiltrated schools, the Internet, airplanes, restrooms, and essentially every other public space available. These ads are the product of some of the finest anthropological research and creative thinking in the marketing business. Techniques such as anti-adultism, which pits children against adults in the struggle for marketed goods, and age compression, which targets children of younger and younger ages, combine with all the traditionally manipulative advertising techniques to create a culture in which children do not merely consume, but also find their identity in consumption…
Read the entire review here
Posted Sat Mar 11th, 2006