Out of the Garden: Toys, Tv, and Children's Culture in the Age of Marketing

Overview

This timely and innovative book provides a detailed history of marketing to children, revealing the strategies that shape the design of toys and have a powerful impact on the way children play.

Stephen Kline looks at the history and development of children’s play culture and toys from the teddy bear to the Barbie doll, Care Bears and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He profiles the rise of children’s mass media—books, comics, film and television—and that of the specialty stores ...

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Overview

This timely and innovative book provides a detailed history of marketing to children, revealing the strategies that shape the design of toys and have a powerful impact on the way children play.

Stephen Kline looks at the history and development of children’s play culture and toys from the teddy bear to the Barbie doll, Care Bears and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He profiles the rise of children’s mass media—books, comics, film and television—and that of the specialty stores such as Toys ‘R’ Us, revealing how the opportunity to reach large audiences of children was a pivotal point in developing new approaches to advertising.

In a powerful re-examination of the debates about the cultural effects of mass media, and in particular television, Out of the Garden asks whether we should allow our children’s play culture to be primarily defined and created by marketing strategists, pointing to the unintended consequences of a situation in which images of real children have all but been eliminated from narratives about the young.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A highly disturbing analysis of children’s play ever since toys became big business ... An insight into the role of marketing and television that no parent can afford to ignore.”—The Times

“An interesting and provocative book. It alerts and sensitises one to to things which should have been obvious but weren’t—like the increasingly sinister co-ordination between media products and the toy industry.”—Observer

“An invaluable analysis of child culture’s long development.”—Voice Literary Supplement

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kline's book is not for parents looking for a quick read on how television influences their children's behavior, and what, if anything, they can do about it. While there is plenty of discussion about the impact of TV on children, this is a serious study written for an academic audience. The author examines the commercial link between television and the toy industry and the impact that connection has on children's culture. Kline argues that by co-opting children's television programing, toy manufacturers have altered the way children are socialized. Children today are much more likely to learn about society by playing with toys, particularly toys that are sold on television, than past generations were. Kline, a professor of communications at Simon Fraser University in Canada, does not criticize businesses for using TV to maximize their profits, but he urges society to acknowledge the large role television and the toy industry play in shaping children's culture and to develop methods to ensure that there is also production of quality materials. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Is our consumer culture enfeebling the imaginations of our children? This is one of the questions posed by Kline (communications, Simon Fraser Univ.). He traces the history of the market for children's cultural goods, books, toys, etc., from its origins in the Industrial Revolution to contemporary times. Most of Kline's book focuses on the form and effect of television marketing of cultural goods directed at children in the last decade. In particular, Kline concentrates on the practice of marketing toys to children via animated cartoon series. The book is thoughtful, well researched, and well written, but, unfortunately, Kline's use of material from many academic disciplines is not always convincing. His psychological analysis of the effects of television marketing on children is interesting but less than compelling. Recommended for political science and media studies collections.-- Edward Buller, ``Natural History,'' American Museum of Natural History
Denise Perry Donavin
After observing his young son's growing obsession with toys he'd learned about from TV, Kline, a Canadian researcher, set out to study the origin and ongoing evolution of the children's market and its major influences, starting with the nineteenth-century children's book market. After an extensive survey of the evolution of the toy industry and its commingling with mass media, Kline points out how this union is more to the advantage of manufacturers and advertisers than to the advantage of kids. Kline comes to the not-surprising conclusion that "the strategies of the market influence the qualities of children's culture" and that contemporary children's culture fails to reflect "children's autonomous choices and preserve their innocence."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780860913979
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 12/17/1993
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction: The Sovereignty of Consumerism: Children in the Age of Marketing 1
1 Communication Analysis for the Age of Marketing 22
2 The Making of Children's Culture 44
3 From Literacy to Comics: The Origins of Children's Fiction 77
4 Thralls of the Screen: The Rise of Mass Media for Children 107
5 Marketing Toys to Children and Youth 143
6 Building Character 174
7 Limited Imaginings 208
8 The Parables of Play: Policy, Strategy and Advertising Design 236
9 Technicians of the Imagination 277
Conclusion: Playing with Culture 316
Appendix 354
Thematic Bibliography 368
Index 396
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