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

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Marketing targeted at kids is virtually everywhere -- in classrooms and textbooks, on the Internet, even at Girl Scout meetings, slumber parties, and the playground. Product placement and other innovations have introduced more subtle advertising to movies and television. Drawing on her own survey research and unprecedented access to the advertising industry, Juliet B. Scho Marketing targeted at kids is virtually everywhere -- in classrooms and textbooks, on the Internet, even at Girl Scout meetings, slumber parties, and the playground. Product placement and other innovations have introduced more subtle advertising to movies and television. Drawing on her own survey research and unprecedented access to the advertising industry, Juliet B. Schor, New York Times bestselling author of The Overworked American, examines how marketing efforts of vast size, scope, and effectiveness have created "commercialized children." Ads and their messages about sex, drugs, and food affect not just what children want to buy, but who they think they are. In this groundbreaking and crucial book, Schor looks at the consequences of the commercialization of childhood and 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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Marketing targeted at kids is virtually everywhere -- in classrooms and textbooks, on the Internet, even at Girl Scout meetings, slumber parties, and the playground. Product placement and other innovations have introduced more subtle advertising to movies and television. Drawing on her own survey research and unprecedented access to the advertising industry, Juliet B. Scho Marketing targeted at kids is virtually everywhere -- in classrooms and textbooks, on the Internet, even at Girl Scout meetings, slumber parties, and the playground. Product placement and other innovations have introduced more subtle advertising to movies and television. Drawing on her own survey research and unprecedented access to the advertising industry, Juliet B. Schor, New York Times bestselling author of The Overworked American, examines how marketing efforts of vast size, scope, and effectiveness have created "commercialized children." Ads and their messages about sex, drugs, and food affect not just what children want to buy, but who they think they are. In this groundbreaking and crucial book, Schor looks at the consequences of the commercialization of childhood and 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    Artificially generated consumerism replaces real experiences in the most formative time of life. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. The priorities that cultures gave to their children alternated between the ages. At the beginning of human history, survival was paramount. As civilizations became more pronounced, the conditioning on various phased-out models of the sociological museum began. Since the middle of the 20th century, Artificially generated consumerism replaces real experiences in the most formative time of life. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. The priorities that cultures gave to their children alternated between the ages. At the beginning of human history, survival was paramount. As civilizations became more pronounced, the conditioning on various phased-out models of the sociological museum began. Since the middle of the 20th century, more and more people are finding themselves in democracies and are free to choose what they want to teach their offspring. No political doctrines need to be trapped and religious texts no longer learned by heart. Parents can shape their child into the image they want. For example, to a critical, reflective, all-questioning, progressive and open-minded cosmopolitan. However, if that is not the case for themselves, it is hard. Then children are more likely to become model citizens. Passive, driven by trends and consumption and without the ability to fill out their lifes without forever buying crap. Once the basic needs are satisfied, there is not much room for improvement. The filling of the inner vacuum with faith, ever new goods or too many superficial social contacts does not lead to the hoped-for redemption. On the contrary, it is a vicious circle that demands more and more. Faith, an ideology or a conviction require constant dedication without actually having a concrete or meaningful goal. Goods and trends are created by those who have a legitimate interest in being able to offer a continually changing assortment to eternity. Even hundreds of friends who are also focused on consumption cannot save one. Because most of those superficial people care as less about one as one cares about them. If one is honest and admits this variant of the self-cheating model humans can be as harmful or even worse than lonely addiction. However, why do people impose such destructive and unlucky behaviors on their children? The machinery behind it is so subtle, ingenious and designed for human weaknesses that parents and grandparents themselves have no single fault. The sudden abundance was a formative, positive change for the grandparent generation. Their parents and grandparents still knew almost medieval conditions. The availability of so many goods and entertainment options was a paradigm shift in handling goods. Nothing was suddenly an acquisition for many years or even a life. Everything had become a consumer product with an expiration date. This was practical for both capitalism and the exponential growth of the economic system. The drive of man to hunt and gather is powerful. With advertising, media and peer pressure he is very easy to exploit. Also, as usual, the motto is: Monkey see, monkey do. Harmful, naturally existing archaic shoots can be exploited to reinforce them. Sexism and stereotypes are aimed at reducing women to fashion, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, etc. Trillions can be earned in this sector. As a result, half of the world's population is forced to adopt useless patterns of behavior that involve a loss of meaningful activities. Boys learn about the importance of competition with play guns and violence toys to develop an alpha character. As adults, they are hunting for the most exclusive and expensive status symbols to express their position in the hierarchy. So that all although the body and the brain desperately send signals to warn the people. Days or at least weeks after consumption, the soul urges for more meaning-free stuff. At heart, therefore, many will assume that something in their behavior cannot be right. They ignore the signals through and drown them in new doses of the drug. The withdrawal would be too painful, tedious and above all very lonely. Justifications and excuses would have to be found to justify the behavior towards acquaintances and to not indirectly offend them. Like in a sect. As long as the adult generation does not have the maturity to control their impulses and urges, one can expect nothing else from the children. There are many positive examples of responsible parents who include sustainability and environmental awareness in education. Teaching the children to create actively, control their feelings and thoughts, and make themselves independent of the short-term lure. That is why it is a cheap excuse just to criticize the system. It is a bit like blaming television and advertising because they have forced you into a consumer-driven life. That all the other adults buy stuff all the time and so one has done it the same to be cool. Alternatively, that one could not get out of the disastrous buying spiral because of the group pressure in the circle of friends. Everyone has it in one's own hands, how one will spend time with the grandchildren in 40 years. Whether with them the third generation of passive consumer slaves will sit in front of the idiot box. Or, whether creative and self-confident toddlers expand their skills in an exchange with two generations of parents in play, productive substitute and communication. Künstlich erzeugter Konsumzwang ersetzt echte Erfahrungen in der prägendsten Zeit des Lebens Die Prioritäten, die Kulturen ihren Kindern vermittelten, wechselten zwischen den Zeitaltern. Zu Beginn der Menschheitsgeschichte stand das blanke Überleben an erster Stelle. Als sich Zivilisationen ausprägten, begannen die Konditionierungen auf diverse Auslaufmodelle des soziologischen Museums. Seit Mitte des 20 Jahrhunderts finden sich immer mehr Menschen in Demokratien wieder und können frei wählen, was sie ihrem Nachwuchs beibringen möchten. Keine politischen Doktrinen müssen mehr eingepaukt und keine religiösen Texte mehr auswendig gelernt werden. Jeder kann sein Kind zu dem Abbild formen, das er sich wünscht. Etwa zu einem kritischen, reflektierenden, alles hinterfragenden, progressiven und weltoffenem Kosmopoliten. Aber wenn man das selbst nicht ist, fällt es schwer. Dann werden Kinder eher zu passiven, von Trends und Konsum getriebenen und ihr Leben lang nie ausgefüllten Musterbürgern. Wenn die Grundbedürfnisse einmal befriedigt sind, gibt es nicht mehr viel Raum nach oben. Das Füllen des inneren Vakuums mit Glauben, immer neuen Gütern oder zu vielen oberflächlichen Sozialkontakten führt nicht zur erhofften Erlösung. Es ist im Gegenteil ein Teufelskreis, der nach immer mehr verlangt. Der Glaube, eine Ideologie oder eine Überzeugung erfordern stete Hingabe, ohne eigentlich ein konkret erfassbares oder sinnvolles Ziel zu haben. Güter und Trends werden von denjenigen erschaffen, die ein berechtigtes Interesse daran haben, bis in die Ewigkeit ein stetig wechselndes Sortiment anbieten zu können. Selbst Hunderte, ebenfalls auf Konsum fokussierte, Freunde können einen nicht retten. Weil man den meisten ebenso egal ist wie sie einem. Wenn man ehrlich ist und sich diese Variante des Selbstbetrugsmodells eingesteht. Nur warum übertragen Menschen so destruktive und das Unglück verheißende Verhaltensmuster auf ihre Kinder? Die Maschinerie dahinter ist so subtil, ausgeklügelt und auf menschliche Schwächen ausgelegt, dass die Eltern und Großeltern selbst keine alleinige Schuld haben. Der plötzliche Überfluss war für die Großelterngeneration ein prägender, positiver Wandel. Ihre Eltern und Großeltern haben noch fast mittelalterliche Zustände gekannt. Die Verfügbarkeit so vieler Waren und Unterhaltungsmöglichkeiten war ein Paradigmenwechsel im Umgang mit Gütern. Nichts war plötzlich mehr eine Anschaffung für viele Jahre oder gar ein Leben. Alles war zu einem, mit einem Ablaufdatum versehenem Konsumgut geworden. Das war sowohl für den Kapitalismus auch als für das auf exponentielles Wachstum ausgelegte Wirtschaftssystem praktisch. Der Trieb des Menschen zu jagen und zu sammeln ist sehr stark. Mit Werbung, Medien und Gruppenzwang lässt er sich sehr leicht instrumentalisieren. Und wie so oft gilt die Devise: Monkey see, monkey do. Schädliche, natürlich vorhandene archaische Triebe lassen sich ausnutzen, um sie zu verstärken. Sexismus und Rollenklischees zielen auf eine Reduzierung der Frau auf Mode, Schmuck, Accesoires und Kosmetik ab. Billionen lassen sich in diesem Sektor verdienen. Dadurch wird die halbe Weltbevölkerung zu sinnlosen Verhaltensmustern gezwungen, die mit einer Einbuße sinnvoller Beschäftigungen einhergehen. Jungen lernen mit Kriegs- und Gewaltspielzeugen Wettkampf und eine Alphamentalität kennen und konkurrieren mit den prestigeträchtigsten Spielzeugen. Als Erwachsene sind sie auf der Jagd nach den exklusivsten und teuersten Statussymbolen, um ihrer Position in der Hierarchie Ausdruck zu verleihen. Und das obwohl der Körper und das Hirn verzweifelt Signale senden. Tage oder spätestens Wochen nach dem Konsum drängt die Seele nach mehr sinnbefreitem Tand. Im Innersten werden daher viele vermuten, dass etwas an ihrem Verhalten nicht richtig sein kann. Sie ignorieren die Signale aber und ertränken sie in neuen Dosen der Droge. Der Entzug wäre zu schmerzhaft, langwierig und vor allem sehr einsam. Rechtfertigungen und Ausflüchte müssten gefunden werden, um das Verhalten gegenüber Bekannten zu rechtfertigen und diese nicht indirekt zu beleidigen. Wie bei einer Sekte. Solange die erwachsene Generation nicht die Mündigkeit besitzt, ihre Impulse und Triebe unter Kontrolle zu bringen, kann man von den Kindern nichts anderes erwarten. Es gibt viele positive Beispiele von verantwortungsbewussten Eltern, die Nachhaltigkeit und Umweltbewusstsein in die Erziehung mit einbauen. Die die Kinder lehren, selbst aktiv zu erschaffen, ihre Gefühle und Gedanken zu kontrollieren und sich selbst unabhängig von kurzfristigen Verlockungen zu machen. Deswegen ist es eine billige Ausrede, nur das System zu kritisieren. Das ist in etwa so, wie wenn man dem Fernsehen und der Werbung die Schuld gibt, weil diese einen zu einem auf Konsum getrimmten Leben gezwungen haben. Dass alle anderen Erwachsenen auch immer einkaufen und man mitmachen muss, wenn man cool sein will. Oder dass man wegen dem Gruppendruck im Freundeskreis nicht aus der verhängnisvollen Kaufspirale aussteigen konnte. Jeder hat es selbst in seiner Hand, wie er in 40 Jahren mit seinen Enkeln Zeit verbringen wird. Ob mit ihnen die dritte Generation passiver Konsumsklaven vor der Trottelkiste sitzen wird. Oder ob kreative und selbstbewusste Kleinkinder ihre Kompetenzen im Austausch mit 2 Elterngenerationen in Spiel und Kommunikation erweitern.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    There is a lot of great information in here about how we are thoroughly saturated with a consumer culture, and how it has trickled down (in a big way) to our kids. I didn't like that the author skewed toward the left while lampooning the right, though. That kind of thing annoys me, 'cause I pretty much fall in the middle somewhere. I'm an Independent who voted for a Democrat last time...and I haven't seen much of a change. Still, I agree with the core of her argument. We have allowed our kids to There is a lot of great information in here about how we are thoroughly saturated with a consumer culture, and how it has trickled down (in a big way) to our kids. I didn't like that the author skewed toward the left while lampooning the right, though. That kind of thing annoys me, 'cause I pretty much fall in the middle somewhere. I'm an Independent who voted for a Democrat last time...and I haven't seen much of a change. Still, I agree with the core of her argument. We have allowed our kids to become too brand-conscious. And why? Is a purse really worth several thousand dollars? No. Because it's not made out of some magical material that gives you the ability to fly or be in two places at one time...that's why. In order to change the way your kids look at consumerism, you've gotta practice what you preach. Her argument also states that kids' self-esteem is now so closely tied to materialism, it's hard for today's parents to just say no. In other words, do you want your kid to get picked on for being the only dork who doesn't have (insert trendy crap here). This was the most (I felt) valid point that she made. Peer pressure is a bitch. And without other parents stepping up, and putting their foot down to all the unnecessary excess, you're pretty much stuck looking like The Meanest Mom Alive. That's my official title, but the way. So what can we do? It's not impossible to turn off your cable. I know because I did it several months ago, opting instead to use streaming video and tv that didn't have commercials. Honestly, I only did it to save money. But the bonus side effect was that my kids stopped asking me (400 times a day!) to buy them useless toys and other crappy products. I'll admit that that was why I got interested in this book. Still, turning off the tv and advertising doesn't fix the above mentioned problem with peer pressure. As your kids get older, you come to the sad realization that they no longer think you are awesome. Shocking, I know! One of the points the author makes is that parents (and adults in general) are portrayed as bumbling retards in children's television, movies, and games. At the worst they are absent and uncaring, at the best just plain dorky. Does watching this kind of stuff over and over help erode our authority with kids when it comes to knowing what's best for them? Personally, I think most of it is harmless fun. Maybe I can say that, though, because I spend a great deal of my time laughing and joking with my kids. What if I was a working mother who only had limited time to spend building a bond? I'm not sure how I would feel about it then. I have a feeling I might be kinda pissed off if I had to really fight for my kids to take me seriously. She also talks about the sad state of junk food and fast food in children's diets. I agree with her totally. McDonald's should be a special treat...not a weekly (or God forbid, daily) destination. I don't think there are too many people out there at this point who can argue with the fact that our kids are (in general) getting a little porky. At the same time, the media is still hawking that unattainable scrawny body image (complete with giant fake boobs) to girls. It's just as bad for the boys, though. Exactly how many hours in the gym do you think those 20something year olds (who are playing high school students) have to spend in the gym to look like that? Again, eating healthy foods, finding fun ways to get your kids active, and explaining why the people on tv do not have bodies they need to aspire to, takes time and effort on the part of the parents. Unfortunately, in order to make enough money to buy all of the 'stuff' that we think we (and our kids) need, a lot of us just don't have that kind of time anymore. The bottom line is that you have to spend time with your kids. It's not easy, but overcoming the media overload can be done. I think over the years it has become more socially acceptable to just throw up our hands and shrug. What can I do? Kids are different now than they were when I was growing up. Hyuck, hyuck! Ya gotta give 'em what they want, right? As a group, we've collectively decided that the inmates are now running the asylum. However, if we step back and take a look, we can see just how silly this kind of thinking is. We're Grown-Ups, for God's sake! Nickelodeon may think that Kids Rule!, but the reality is that Adults Are In Charge!, especially when it comes to putting the kibosh on all the crazy excess. Here's a typical conversation in my house: You are my kid and I love you with all my heart, but I don't give a rat's a$$ what your friend's mom does. Oh yeah? Get back to me in ten years, and we'll see how your pal is doing. I suck? Really? Good! That's what I was hoping you'd say! You're running away? Huh. Well, that's certainly a good decision. *an hour later* You still here? Gee, I was looking forward to cutting the grocery bill. Wanna go hang out at the pool? M'kay. Go get your bathing suit on then.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm

    It was a little nervousness that I picked this up – so much of the work I read that deals with marketing to children has an implicit or explicit right wing moralism that is constrained by the torpor of nostalgia. The other major category is populated by a range of journalistic writing, some of which escapes the defeatism shaped by both nostalgia and a sense of the incontestable power of media industries. This nervousness was off-set by knowing the Schor is a scholar and activist in left social d It was a little nervousness that I picked this up – so much of the work I read that deals with marketing to children has an implicit or explicit right wing moralism that is constrained by the torpor of nostalgia. The other major category is populated by a range of journalistic writing, some of which escapes the defeatism shaped by both nostalgia and a sense of the incontestable power of media industries. This nervousness was off-set by knowing the Schor is a scholar and activist in left social democratic politics, who works at Boston College and has an affiliation with Harvard; her 1992 book The Overworked American remains one of those texts I keep coming back to when working on anything to do with the current political economy of leisure, sport and work. This book is more closely related to her second, The Overspent American, but extends the focus to explore not just advertising to children and the commercialisation of childhood, but sets out to explore the relationships between consumer culture and children’s well-being. The results of that exploration are the most unsettling and important set of findings and set this book apart from others in the field. The first three chapters explore children’s consumption and the shape and form of marketing aimed at children. The arguments here are developed on the basis of both secondary analyses of existing published research and interviews with and time spent in advertising agencies and marketing companies. Much of the material here (given its basis in already available research) is not new – but Schor has done well to present it in an accessible and engaging manner for non-academic audiences (Hobsbawm’s famous “intelligent and educated citizen”). There is much, however, that is new, and this derives from the work with the advertising and marketing industries, where there are many participants who express discomfort or more about how they sell and what they sell to kids (although more seem to stay on corporate message and if there are qualms they are hidden behind the instrumentalism of just doing ther job and just feeding their kids). Schor avoids the moral outrage we so often here and walks a delicate line between child protection and children’s rights and empowerment approaches with the heartening outcome that she avoids the pessimism and cynicism of much of the other literature in the field. As if the material here us not disturbing enough, the next three chapters then go on to look at the ways the consumption that this marketing and advertising is designed to encourage is embedded in childhood, through the kids of research that is carried out, the direct marketing through increasingly commercialised public schools, and through the ways that trans- and cross marketing helps develop consumption habits. Although most of the evidence here is based in US experience, the patterns and approaches may be seen across other settings; I see, for instance, similar developments in UK schools as they become increasingly commercialised and commodified – not only through advertising but through the role of private investors in running state schools. From my perspective, perhaps the most alarming things in this section of the book is the thoroughly unethical research that is carried out – very little if any of which would get past university research ethics approval procedures. I know of no ethics committee that would allow research where participants or gatekeepers are paid to participate. The most alarming set of evidence, however, comes from Schor’s research around Boston exploring children’s involvement in consumer culture and its impact on depression, anxiety, self-esteem and relations with parents. By using structural equation modelling (a fairly complex and mystifying data analysis technique), she has been able to step beyond the all too common correlation studies to identify causal relations between a number of scales in her data set. In all four sets of analysis – looking at depression, anxiety, self-esteem and reported psychosomatic states – she found that although extent of media use is closely causally linked positions of the four scales, in all cases it is mediated through respondents’ places on the ‘consumer involvement scale’ which also has a direct causal relation with places on the parental attitude scale. In all cases these causal relations are statistically significant. In other words, it is not media use per se that causes the reported psychological states, but the way that media use relates to involvement in consumer culture. In all cases, high involvement in consumer culture diminishes children’s sense of well-being. She concludes by using this evidence to revisit debates about advertising and marketing aimed at children, once again mediating the child protection/child empowerment debates in subtle and important ways. She then turns to practical advice on decommercialising childhood drawing important distinctions between short term child protection approaches as a way to mitigate effects in the short term but noting that a collectivist and activist approach that gets beyond child protection is essential. In this she focuses on decommercialising culture in the form of media, food and outdoor space and decommercialising the household – in short, if we want out kids to have lives beyond those depicted by our commercialised and commodified worlds then we need to live that life with them. I can’t say I enjoyed this but it is a fantastic book that not only allows us to consider commercialised childhood but the very real problems resulting from the depth and power of consumer culture and children’s place in it (and its place in children’s lives). Schor continues to write well and accessibly to translate often complex and dense academic literature into politically and practically useful material. What is more, I’ll be using the evidence about children’s well-being to rewrite large parts of my final year consumer society class given that the timing of the research means that although US-derived, the data draws on people now the age of my students in that class. In short, then this is highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    I read this awhile ago and wrote an article about it over here I read this awhile ago and wrote an article about it over here

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tara van Beurden

    I studied sociology at part of Bachelor of Arts and I have always been fascinated by the way people behave as result of the influence of the media. This book looks at the way the media sells to children and how insidious this has become. It’s a little old now, but still distinctly relevant. Being U.S. centric, there was a lot of stuff I wasn’t actually aware of, and it became quickly apparent to me how much more entrenched capitalism is in education in the U.S. than it is in Australia. I already I studied sociology at part of Bachelor of Arts and I have always been fascinated by the way people behave as result of the influence of the media. This book looks at the way the media sells to children and how insidious this has become. It’s a little old now, but still distinctly relevant. Being U.S. centric, there was a lot of stuff I wasn’t actually aware of, and it became quickly apparent to me how much more entrenched capitalism is in education in the U.S. than it is in Australia. I already have my worries about the Australian education system, having seen its deterioration between myself at school in the 90s/00s and my sister at school between the 00s/10s, and books such as this give me much less faith for a better standard in other countries (particularly around the concept of ‘critical thinking’, an apparent dying concept). There’s some new research in this book done by the author, specifically for the book, and a lot of discussion around pre-existing research that outlines just how sketchy the lines are around when it is right and wrong to use children as a money grabber. I personally don’t believe in screening media from children, as I think it leads to a generation of kids who don’t really live in reality. Having said that, I think knowing information such as is presented in this book, is a really good first step to understanding what parents/teachers/guardians etc need to teach their children in order to arm them to see the marketing from the reality. An interesting read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I was all in (with a grain or five of salt) until I got to the conclusion with its recommendations for federal regulations. Then I was suddenly wary. I had recognized that the author was clearly biased, and I was okay with that; I guess I just didn't expect it to end so blatantly. I vaguely regretted recommending it to so many people before I had finished. However, the information contained within is valuable and absolutely worth reading. I was all in (with a grain or five of salt) until I got to the conclusion with its recommendations for federal regulations. Then I was suddenly wary. I had recognized that the author was clearly biased, and I was okay with that; I guess I just didn't expect it to end so blatantly. I vaguely regretted recommending it to so many people before I had finished. However, the information contained within is valuable and absolutely worth reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Glass

    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. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Niniane

    Data-based analysis of how marketers are influencing kids from a young age. They compel the kids to nag their parents for junk food, expensive brands, oversexualized products. Marketers also go straight into schools, e.g. Coke sponsors schools and gets the kids drinking Coke. This helped me realize the perniciousness of ads. I uninstalled IG as a result.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sertac

    Very informative book. You can see the effort and study behind.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jaraka Davis

    Good info but a little too academic for my tired brain.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Caryn

    Eye-opening!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zacas_puntas

    Biggest book ever.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I've had The Overspent American on my to-read list for years, so when I saw this book at the bookmobile, I decided to check it out, and it wasn't terrible but it was less readable than I would have preferred this week. It may have been the layout of the pages but it came off as droning to me. When I stepped away from it or ended a chapter there was really nothing that made me want to return to the book. Obviously I'm not a fan of the marketing juggernaut: the kids don't wear licensed clothing, we I've had The Overspent American on my to-read list for years, so when I saw this book at the bookmobile, I decided to check it out, and it wasn't terrible but it was less readable than I would have preferred this week. It may have been the layout of the pages but it came off as droning to me. When I stepped away from it or ended a chapter there was really nothing that made me want to return to the book. Obviously I'm not a fan of the marketing juggernaut: the kids don't wear licensed clothing, we keep TV to a minimum, no Nickelodeon, avoiding the toy aisles in the store, minimal fast and junk food, and even trying to avoid the War-with-Joneses is a (small but undeniably present) consideration in our decision to homeschool. I generally shy away from buying stuff and avoid the hedonic treadmill or other forms of discontentment that come from comparing myself to others. She lost me when she went off on various tangents about how certain societal problems (advertising in public schools, the obesity epidemic, the prevalence of ChannelOne in poor schools) are all due to the actions of Reagan or Bush. Each one came off as a complete non-sequitur, as if a reader wouldn't notice that the book went from "blah blah" to "such-and-such Republican is a puppet for the Big Advertising or Big Food lobby." She wasn't so quick to name names when discussing problems that cropped up during the Clinton administration. What did I learn from this book? One of the "frontiers" from 2003 was the idea of peer-to-peer and stealth marketing, like, people being paid to endorse a product to their friends. By now this has obviously pervaded the entire blogosphere to the point that I can't read any blogger's product reviews without a healthy dose of skepticism, figuring that they're probably getting some sort of affiliate compensation for speaking favorably about whatever. So that sucks in that it undermines trust and the potential for friendship. Of course it's a natural extension of the marketing industry's own practices; exploitation of children and their ideas is endemic in the industry. If it's not a problem when the companies do it, why is it a problem when kids do it to their friends? Many probably don't even realize the wider implications of their actions. Schor also conducted a study of children's media exposure and mental health. It was interesting. And she discovered from speaking to advertisers that they are often conflicted about marketing products to children, and often shield their own children from advertising influence.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Juliet Shor's Born to Buy examined the commercialization of childhood. After providing a history, an overview of the tactics, and an examination the consequences, Shor argues -- pleads, as a parent -- for regulation and taxation to reign in the corporate invasion of schools, the ubiquity of product placement in television, the insidious attitude in advertising that encourages kids to not only seek approval by buying things, but to assert their coolness by badgering their parents into buying the Juliet Shor's Born to Buy examined the commercialization of childhood. After providing a history, an overview of the tactics, and an examination the consequences, Shor argues -- pleads, as a parent -- for regulation and taxation to reign in the corporate invasion of schools, the ubiquity of product placement in television, the insidious attitude in advertising that encourages kids to not only seek approval by buying things, but to assert their coolness by badgering their parents into buying them the latest and greatest -- advertising that blames the parents for being mean and the cause of their child's misery if they don't. Released in the same year as Susan Linn's Consuming Kids, Shor's work contains more concrete data, but is not quite as helpful: Linn focused on especially destructive themes and counseled parents on how they could make decisions in their household and in conversations with their children to counter consumerism and premature sexualization. Shor largely passes by media sexualization and only looks at government regulation to reign in the abuse. Considering that the Supreme Court regards corporation as people who can dump however money they'd like into elections, I would not count the US government as an ally in this fight. Born to Buy is still very much worth reading, though, just for the numerous interviews with marketing execs, many of whom (parents themselves) left the business when they could no longer reconcile their work with their consciences. (With good reason: their usurpation of child psychology and carefully planned invasions of home and school borders on villainy.) A quotation from one: "Banks [,a marketing agent], believes buzz practitioners are just getting started. 'We'll have ten or fifteen more ways of encircling the consumer in ten years [...] surrounding almost every move you make, that would be the ideal.' Asked about consumers who didn't like being marketed to, Banks didn't hesitate. 'Covert messaging. Use their friends.'" Born to Buy was published in 2004. Nine years later, 'Banks' must surely be pleased with the ubiquity of facebook, which converts our friends' passions into ads for us, projected across the internet via plugins.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    The book alerts the reader to various corporate marketing schemes directed to children. It argues the consumer culture children are raised in today leads to dissatisfied lifestyles. The author discusses the complete emersion of children into advertising at a very young age. Advertising even exists in schools (where the author and I both agree it shouldn't, but I also recognize it's significant source of income for schools). I thought the section about companies making food entertaining and toyli The book alerts the reader to various corporate marketing schemes directed to children. It argues the consumer culture children are raised in today leads to dissatisfied lifestyles. The author discusses the complete emersion of children into advertising at a very young age. Advertising even exists in schools (where the author and I both agree it shouldn't, but I also recognize it's significant source of income for schools). I thought the section about companies making food entertaining and toylike was pretty interesting. She pointed out similarities between cigarette and food marketing (in some instances, eerily, both products are produced from the same parent company, Phillip Morris). It's awful how the companies may know the damage their product does, yet they push to deny such knowledge and prevent any legislation or programs that would harm their bottom line. Also disconcerting? How marketers appeal to children to nag their parents, set them at odd with adults and make everyday rules over the television and other media sources a battle. However, I felt some of her conclusions seemed a little overblown, I had issue with her sample survey size. I do feel more alert to the pervasive nature of businesses trying to get children when they are young and would recommend this to prospective parents and current parents. Favorite Quote/Finding: Flesh and blood children are not merely innocents, but complex beings, with conflicting desires and impulses. In the end, the industry claims sound hollow. When confronted with the epidemic of childhood obesity and their role in it, McDonald's and its advertisers say their product should be part of a healthy, balanced diet. But with an actual marketing goal of twenty visits per customer per month, company actions speak louder than words.

  16. 5 out of 5

    erin

    Juliet Schor's Born to Buy is an extremely well-researched, informative, and empowering book on how commercialization is changing children and what adults can do about it. First published about a decade ago, I had thought that this book would feel more dated than it does. Certainly some of Schor's speculation on the impact of violent video games, legislation about junk food, and so on does date this book. However, that does not make this read any less worthy. I found that it has amazing explanato Juliet Schor's Born to Buy is an extremely well-researched, informative, and empowering book on how commercialization is changing children and what adults can do about it. First published about a decade ago, I had thought that this book would feel more dated than it does. Certainly some of Schor's speculation on the impact of violent video games, legislation about junk food, and so on does date this book. However, that does not make this read any less worthy. I found that it has amazing explanatory power when looking at the behavior of U.S. 20-somethings today. Schor paints a picture of our society in which advertising has become indivisible from interpersonal relationships, entertainment, consumption, and self-image. She explores the way U.S. society and childhood has changed in this post-modern era, and how that change has been (at least partially) crafted by advertisers whose goal is to get your money. Schor skillfully combines content analysis, social analysis, statistical and academic methodology, with concerned advocacy. She deconstructs still popular myths about the helpful or benign effects of advertising to children. She also discusses her own sociological work which links children's decrease in emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health to an increase in their consumption habits. I really enjoyed reading this book. Schor makes explaining postmodern and sociological concepts and sociological methodology seem easy. While this book does feel geared towards the U.S. middle class, all of Schor's findings are applicable to nearly all children (and by proxy, the adults in their lives), and I appreciated the several points throughout the book where she socially situates herself and those she writes about. I especially enjoyed that Schor offered a variety of macro- and mezo-level solutions that really feel do-able. This book is excellent.

  17. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    Although at times the book was a bit rough to plod through (while I find statistical analysis to be pretty interesting, it's still hard to read about it in a book), it was a very interesting and enlightening expose on all of the marketing that occurs that targets children. I found it somewhat frightening how pervasive marketing towards children is, I had heard of soda contracts in schools, but had no idea that marketing agencies pay lots of schools to show a commercial TV channel as a supplement Although at times the book was a bit rough to plod through (while I find statistical analysis to be pretty interesting, it's still hard to read about it in a book), it was a very interesting and enlightening expose on all of the marketing that occurs that targets children. I found it somewhat frightening how pervasive marketing towards children is, I had heard of soda contracts in schools, but had no idea that marketing agencies pay lots of schools to show a commercial TV channel as a supplement or replacement to morning announcements. (Fortunately, ChannelOne is and has been banned in NY, so I got ad-free, student produced announcements over the intercom.) The fact that this marketing intrudes in parts of children's lives that they can't avoid really shows how eager Big Business is to ensnare children into the consumerist culture at a young age. And proves that we can't rely on the age old argument that the parents are to blame. My favorite part of the book are Ms. Schor's suggestions for improvement. Government regulations (or a ban) on marketing that targets children, the possible taxation of advertisements are great ideas, although I'm sure that, with Big Business putting so much money in all of our nation's leader's wallets, these will never come to fruition. But until then, people can turn off their TVs, read a book, or go outside and play. There are a plethora of activities that can get children away from the mind-numbing influence of advertisements while still providing them with entertainment.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christina Stind

    This book is quite a scary read - it shows how marketing targeting children are rising and how companies stop at basically nothing to reach the kids because that's where the money is. How children now are having influence on - or even making - choices like which car the family should get, not just the color but the brand. How children's shows are filled with commercials, how schools are now targeted by companies, how children are used to pressure their peers to buy certain things... And how this This book is quite a scary read - it shows how marketing targeting children are rising and how companies stop at basically nothing to reach the kids because that's where the money is. How children now are having influence on - or even making - choices like which car the family should get, not just the color but the brand. How children's shows are filled with commercials, how schools are now targeted by companies, how children are used to pressure their peers to buy certain things... And how this all is affecting the kids, how self esteem are being influenced by whether or not you have the right stuff, how eating habits and therefore obessity are being caused by the constant advertising for unhealthy food choices etc. But also how parents still have the power to make choices to promote health and happiness in their children - to some extent just by saying no to television and to be good role models themselves. Very interesting book - especially now that we're expecting our first kid. Poor thing - she's not going to get to watch any television at all for her entire life!!! ;-) I think this child focused industri is way bigger in the US than in tiny Denmark - but things have a habit of showing up in Denmark after having been big in the US, especially the bad things, so even if it's not here so much yet, it's probably just a question of time... But I for one consider myself warned and will definitely be thinking more about what television shows and how much television at all my children get to see.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiny Pants

    Another day, another Schor re-read as part of a project I'm working on. Though this book contains more efforts at quantitatively legitimating her arguments than any of her other main works, I would still argue that this one is the least effective of the three. Why? Unlike her other two popular/scholarly books focusing on similar issues (The Overworked American and The Overspent American), the focus on kids actually leads to a weaker argument. In this book she does make more of an effort to addre Another day, another Schor re-read as part of a project I'm working on. Though this book contains more efforts at quantitatively legitimating her arguments than any of her other main works, I would still argue that this one is the least effective of the three. Why? Unlike her other two popular/scholarly books focusing on similar issues (The Overworked American and The Overspent American), the focus on kids actually leads to a weaker argument. In this book she does make more of an effort to address counter arguments to her points, yet in her zealousness at sticking with her main points, Schor is sometimes reminiscent of short-lived American Idol contestant Juanita Barber's rendition of "What About the Children?" At some point, it almost becomes laughable... but in the end it's just more of a grind. I will say again that I appreciated that in this book, even while sticking with a popular audience, Schor did bust some social science moves and try to explain causality versus causation, necessary and sufficient explanations, and so on. At the same time however, I felt like I needed more than just the obvious marketers-say-the-darnedest-things to really be convinced of her argument.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mitzi

    This book both fascinated and scared me at the same time.... It discusses the trend toward direct marketing to children, and how harmful it is to them. Not only are parents bypassed completely as marketing targets, but there is an increasing "anti-adultism" sentiment in many of the marketing techniques being used (parents and other authority figures are portrayed as idiots, out-of-touch, lame, boring, unable to understand anything about kids or what's considered to be cool). Kids are exposed to This book both fascinated and scared me at the same time.... It discusses the trend toward direct marketing to children, and how harmful it is to them. Not only are parents bypassed completely as marketing targets, but there is an increasing "anti-adultism" sentiment in many of the marketing techniques being used (parents and other authority figures are portrayed as idiots, out-of-touch, lame, boring, unable to understand anything about kids or what's considered to be cool). Kids are exposed to much more than they should be way too soon (There's even a marketing term for it: KAGOY - Kids Are Getting Older Younger). And much of this marketing is even coming from schools (Channel One, and other media sources in which schools are given money to allow it), where kids are a captive audience and don't have parents there to counteract what they're hearing and seeing with a voice of reason. Overall, children are becoming more materialistic. They want to be rich, they want more things (and more expensive things), they think they can't be happy unless they are constantly accumulating more and more stuff.... Anyway, this was definitely an eye-opener for me, and I would definitely recommend it to any parent.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Juliet Schor explores how today's increasingly consumer crazed culture affects young children and teens, and in short - it isn't pretty. Schor takes a good, if cynical, look at the increase in ads marketed to young children and what this reflects about our culture. Even worse, Schor claims, is how this "getting people to buy stuff" is turning young children into over sexualized, over stimulated, unhealthy consumers often with a distorted sense of self esteem. This book was truly fascinating. For Juliet Schor explores how today's increasingly consumer crazed culture affects young children and teens, and in short - it isn't pretty. Schor takes a good, if cynical, look at the increase in ads marketed to young children and what this reflects about our culture. Even worse, Schor claims, is how this "getting people to buy stuff" is turning young children into over sexualized, over stimulated, unhealthy consumers often with a distorted sense of self esteem. This book was truly fascinating. For anyone concerned about the disturbing trend of turning children into excessive consumers, this book is a must. I was especially incensed at the chapter about the commercialization of public education. Though I learned a TON from this book, it wasn't meant to be purely informational; there is no doubt where Schor's feelings on this issue lie. She spends the last chapter suggesting ways that parents can and have negated this trend in their own homes with their families. Truly and eye opening read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ariah

    Born to Buy gives telling insight into the world of marketing to children and the affects of consumerism on our kids. I'm so grateful to Juliet Schor and the many other women who've championed the literature and research in this field. Born to Buy is a bit more academic, but definitely not too much. Schor also uses the middle of the book to publish research findings from a study she personally did. It slows the reading down a bit and gets academic and information dense, but is extremely insightf Born to Buy gives telling insight into the world of marketing to children and the affects of consumerism on our kids. I'm so grateful to Juliet Schor and the many other women who've championed the literature and research in this field. Born to Buy is a bit more academic, but definitely not too much. Schor also uses the middle of the book to publish research findings from a study she personally did. It slows the reading down a bit and gets academic and information dense, but is extremely insightful. I might recommend this as a second or third book to read regarding consumerism and kids. Probably read Buy, Buy Baby first. The most intriguing thing about Born to Buy is the quotes of marketers from interviews that Schor does. If you have some skepticism about marketing to kids you should hear what the people actually doing it have to say. They know it's wrong, some struggle with it, but most are pretty clear they aren't acting in the best interest of kids or our society. Enjoyable book and it will fire you up to take action in your community.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I finally finished reading the book Born to Buy. In my mission to create a healthy environment to raise my son in, I decided to read the book "Born to Buy". The book provided the information I was looking for to make an informed decision about our child's exposure to advertising. Although the book seemed somewhat alarmist, any information about something that damages the well-being of the innocent and future generations will be upsetting. This book was definitely upsetting. It did an excellent j I finally finished reading the book Born to Buy. In my mission to create a healthy environment to raise my son in, I decided to read the book "Born to Buy". The book provided the information I was looking for to make an informed decision about our child's exposure to advertising. Although the book seemed somewhat alarmist, any information about something that damages the well-being of the innocent and future generations will be upsetting. This book was definitely upsetting. It did an excellent job exposing the advertising industry for their unethical decisions when marketing directly to children. The book goes on to explain the effects of marketing to children, including 3 year olds that are being put on anti-depression medication. Although the author wanted to provide a concrete case for her conclusions, it was difficult to wade through the statistical information, at times. I recommend that anyone who is a parent or childcare provider read Born to Buy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike☺₪ ▒ ۩ Kean ۞ ♠

    This book was an interesting book to say the least. It was full of shocking facts and crazy things that companies do to sell products. It had a number of charts and diagrams to go along with the text. They included survey results, research studies, and polls taken. Juliet Schor also tells of how corporate giants are taking over the media and using it to reach to young kids to force the purchasing of their products. I found that the research done on the topic was very well done. The book goes ver This book was an interesting book to say the least. It was full of shocking facts and crazy things that companies do to sell products. It had a number of charts and diagrams to go along with the text. They included survey results, research studies, and polls taken. Juliet Schor also tells of how corporate giants are taking over the media and using it to reach to young kids to force the purchasing of their products. I found that the research done on the topic was very well done. The book goes very in-depth with the effects that TV ads have on young kids. And how at every turn, there is advertising, in movies, news, and even schools! Especially when companies sponsor a school fundraiser, they do it to get people more interested in their products. I strongly recommend this book to any parent, teacher, or person like me who wants to know how companies *Really* manage advertising.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth McDonald

    To quote the summary on the back of the book, the author "examines how marketing efforts of vast size, scope, and effectiveness have created 'commercialized children'." Well, yes, and both the consumerism rampant in today's children and the advertising ploys that feed that consumerism are alarming, but this book frankly just annoyed me. It ventured into alarmist territory, painting advertisers as sly, greedy villains only lacking mustaches to twirl to complete the stereotype. I also got overwhel To quote the summary on the back of the book, the author "examines how marketing efforts of vast size, scope, and effectiveness have created 'commercialized children'." Well, yes, and both the consumerism rampant in today's children and the advertising ploys that feed that consumerism are alarming, but this book frankly just annoyed me. It ventured into alarmist territory, painting advertisers as sly, greedy villains only lacking mustaches to twirl to complete the stereotype. I also got overwhelmed by all Schor's examples, which started to make the book feel bloated. I feel that she could have written half the pages and made her point much more strongly. I don't think I'll even finish this book, because I would just rather spend my time on something else.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Thomson

    Very liberal approach to limiting advertising to children through government means. Schor provides examples where she feels children are being exploited for commercial ventures and then gives details of her doing the exact same thing to children, but justifying it because it is research. Her solutions include setting up a government run television station for children, because there would be no commercials. Instead we would have government content at government prices. Schor does not give enough Very liberal approach to limiting advertising to children through government means. Schor provides examples where she feels children are being exploited for commercial ventures and then gives details of her doing the exact same thing to children, but justifying it because it is research. Her solutions include setting up a government run television station for children, because there would be no commercials. Instead we would have government content at government prices. Schor does not give enough credit to parents, setting up those who control their children’s media intake as outliers. She feels we cannot expect this type of responsible behavior from all parents. Do not waste your time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A must-read for any parent or caregiver - a real wake-up call to the effects our advertising soaked culture has on children. This book will pretty much scare the hell out of you in terms of what messages your children are getting. It was interesting to learn about things such as KAGOY (Kids Are Getting Older Younger) which is the idea that kids are far more sophisticated at a younger age than ever before. Barbie dolls are now for two-year-olds and sexy miniskirts and makeup are for girls as youn A must-read for any parent or caregiver - a real wake-up call to the effects our advertising soaked culture has on children. This book will pretty much scare the hell out of you in terms of what messages your children are getting. It was interesting to learn about things such as KAGOY (Kids Are Getting Older Younger) which is the idea that kids are far more sophisticated at a younger age than ever before. Barbie dolls are now for two-year-olds and sexy miniskirts and makeup are for girls as young as six. Schor makes quite a case against advertising to children, and one simple solution she pushes is restricting TV time for children.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    The topic of this book, as well as some of the evidence presented, was definitely interesting. However, it had a bit too much of a research focus for me. I prefer something that explores case studies, which is what the beginning of the book did. But once the research became more of a central focus, I found myself losing interest. This is perhaps because a lot of the research was research I already have read about and was lectured on in a Children's Comm class I took in college, so there was not The topic of this book, as well as some of the evidence presented, was definitely interesting. However, it had a bit too much of a research focus for me. I prefer something that explores case studies, which is what the beginning of the book did. But once the research became more of a central focus, I found myself losing interest. This is perhaps because a lot of the research was research I already have read about and was lectured on in a Children's Comm class I took in college, so there was not enough new info to keep me interested. However, the first half of this book was definitely a good read and it is very informative for someone with little background on advertising to kids.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    it's freaking me out so far. well, it freaked me out the whole way. i agree that the marketers and advertisers need to be more responsible for what they do - however, i don't find it that hard as a parent to opt out if it. advertising to kids is the same thing as Big Food and Big Tobacco to me - they shouldn't be advertising and trying to sell people on deadly products, but advertisers are only in business because it works. if people would be more responsible about their own choices, there would it's freaking me out so far. well, it freaked me out the whole way. i agree that the marketers and advertisers need to be more responsible for what they do - however, i don't find it that hard as a parent to opt out if it. advertising to kids is the same thing as Big Food and Big Tobacco to me - they shouldn't be advertising and trying to sell people on deadly products, but advertisers are only in business because it works. if people would be more responsible about their own choices, there would be more healthy food in the grocery store and less branding on baby items.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Ann

    There's a lot of good information in here. My only objection is the muddled message of children are just like adults and need to be treated as such but we must ban commercials because kids can't handle them. Author can't decide if children should be empowered or coddled. However, taking out the obvious political positions of the author, the analysis and data in the book is excellent. This isn't an unfamiliar subject for me but I was unaware of all the ways marketing worms its way into children's There's a lot of good information in here. My only objection is the muddled message of children are just like adults and need to be treated as such but we must ban commercials because kids can't handle them. Author can't decide if children should be empowered or coddled. However, taking out the obvious political positions of the author, the analysis and data in the book is excellent. This isn't an unfamiliar subject for me but I was unaware of all the ways marketing worms its way into children's lives.

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