Parents go to great lengths to equip their children; mothers will increase their work during the Christmas period and plan the purchase of birthday gifts and seasonal clothing months in advance. Some of Pugh’s findings resonated with research elsewhere, but as she suggested (page 222), her research required cross-cultural comparisons. We urgently need to conduct more research, taking into account cultural differences in children’s consumption as well as economic, political, and social differences. This kind of research can enrich the topics discussed by Pugh, but it cannot be analyzed of any length, including the idea of children and childhood, the idea of money, and the desire to make children interact closely with toys and game systems. Comparing methods can also compare the different ways children view certain goods as necessities, and how parents respond to and negotiate such orders. By doing so, this will pave the way for more nuanced analysis of childhood, “this is an emerging attribute of the interaction between people, technology and objects”, Nick Lee (2008) proposed. Desire and sense of belonging well illustrate the importance of including children in consumption research. The child’s perspective reminds us of the dynamic impact of priorities on parents and caregivers, but it also provides important insights into the way in which consumption becomes part of the reproduction of intergenerational relationships. This study is a must-read book for American students interested in children and consumer culture.
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Book review: Montgomery, Heather (2009) An Introduction to Childhood: Anthropological Perspectives on Children’s Lives. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. (281 pp.) ISBN: 9781405125901
great lengths parents go to equip their children; mothers take on extra jobs over Christmas and plan birthday gifts and seasonal clothing purchases months in advance. Some of Pugh’s findings resonate with research conducted elsewhere, but as she suggests (p. 222), her study calls for cross-cultural comparisons. We urgently need more research that takes into account cultural differences and economical, political and social variations in consumption of/for children. This kind of research could enrich topics that Pugh discusses, but fails to analyze in any length, including conceptions of the child and childhoods, conceptions of money and the desires that give meaning to children’s intense interactions with toys and gaming systems. The comparative approach could also contrast the different ways in which children come to view some commodities as must-haves and how parents react to and negotiate such imperatives. By doing so, it would pave the way for a more subtle analysis of childhood “as an emergent property of interactions between persons, technologies and objects” Nick Lee (2008) is proposing. Longing and belonging demonstrates beautifully how essential it is to include children in the study of consumption. The perspective of children reminds us of the dynamic influence their imperatives have on parents and caretakers, but it also opens important insights for thinking about the ways in which consumption is part of the reproduction of generational relations. The study is a must-read for scholars interested in children and consumer culture, in the United States, but also elsewhere.