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Longing and Belonging : Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture

ISBN: 9780520258440 | 0520258444
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Univ of California Pr
Pub. Date: 3/4/2009

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Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on children every year, and yet most Americans decry the materialism of modern childhoods. 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 Pugh spent three years observing and interviewing children and their families. InLonging and Belonging, she teases out the complex factors that contribute to this spending boom, 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 among their peers. 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.


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