Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, 2004 - Business & Economics - 275 pages
49 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.


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Review: Born to Buy: A Groundbreaking Exposť of a Marketing Culture That Makes Children "Believe They Are What They Own." (USA Today)

User Review  - Ryan Glass - Goodreads

Well researched and well stated, but the divergent directions kept me from devoting my full attention to the author's point. It may be tough to write about this without inspiring emotions that are disruptive to the reading process, though. Read full review

Review: Born to Buy: A Groundbreaking Exposť of a Marketing Culture That Makes Children "Believe They Are What They Own." (USA Today)

User Review  - Paul DiBara - Goodreads

A study of how our society has developed into a consumption machine and how that ethic has become instilled into even the youngest of our children. My only criticism of the book had to do with the ... Read full review


The Changing World of Childrens Consumption
The Content
Ads Infiltrate Everyday Life
The Commercialization of Public Schools
The New Intrusive Research
Selling Kids on Junk Food Drugs and Violence
How Consumer Culture Undermines Childrens WellBeing
Empowered or Seduced? The Debate About Advertising
Beyond Big Bird
Data Appendix

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About the author (2004)

Juliet Schor is professor of sociology at Boston College.

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