Raising Consumers: Children and the American Mass Market in the Early Twentieth Century

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Overview

In the present electronic torrent of MTV and teen flicks, Nintendo and Air Jordan advertisements, consumer culture is an unmistakably important--and controversial--dimension of modern childhood. Historians and social commentators have typically assumed that the child consumer became significant during the postwar television age. But the child consumer was already an important phenomenon in the early twentieth century. The family, traditionally the primary institution of child socialization, began to face an array of new competitors who sought to put their own imprint on children's acculturation to consumer capitalism. Advertisers, children's magazine publishers, public schools, child experts, and children's peer groups alternately collaborated with, and competed against, the family in their quest to define children's identities.

At stake in these conflicts and collaborations was no less than the direction of American consumer society--would children's consumer training rein in hedonistic excesses or contribute to the spread of hollow, commercial values? Not simply a new player in the economy, the child consumer became a lightning rod for broader concerns about the sanctity of the family and the authority of the market in modern capitalist culture. Lisa Jacobson reveals how changing conceptions of masculinity and femininity shaped the ways Americans understood the virtues and vices of boy and girl consumers--and why boys in particular emerged as the heroes of the new consumer age. She also analyzes how children's own behavior, peer culture, and emotional investment in goods influenced the dynamics of the new consumer culture.

Raising Consumers is a provocative examination of the social, economic, and cultural forces that produced and ultimately legitimized a distinctive children's consumer culture in the early twentieth century.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Television Quarterly - Nicholas Sammond

A carefully researched and well-argued discussion of the role of youth in the emergence of consumer culture.

Business History Review - Daniel Thomas Cook

Succeeds in shedding new light on the history of children as consumers... Her interesting cases are instructive.

The Journal of American History - Paula Petrik

Lisa Jacobson's work represents one of the strongest offerings in the group.

Journal of Social History - Susan J. Matt

Raising Consumers offers a convincing portrayal of how consumerism powerfully reshaped childhood.

Urban History Review - Magda Fahrni

Raising Consumers is a compelling and persuasive book and an enjoyable read.

The Historian - Steven Mintz

This marvelous history of the commercialization of childhood since 1890 shows how serious scholarship can place contemporary anxieties into fresh perspective.

Journal of Popular Culture - Jeremy K. Saucier

Undoubtedly Raising Consumers helps us to better understand the middle-class child's story in the history of American consumer culture.

American Historical Review - Arwen P. Mohun

An Admiral piece of scholarship...far more thoroughly researched and contextualized than previous work on the history of children and consumption.

H-Childhood - Kelly Schrum

An excellent contribution to our growing understanding of the rise of a consumer society and its effects on individuals of all ages.

Choice

Rarely do consumer-culture scholars link popular-culture messages to their audiences so successfully....Highly recommended

Choice

Rarely do consumer-culture scholars link popular-culture messages to their audiences so successfully....Highly recommended

Television Quarterly
A carefully researched and well-argued discussion of the role of youth in the emergence of consumer culture.

— Nicholas Sammond

Business History Review
Succeeds in shedding new light on the history of children as consumers... Her interesting cases are instructive.

— Daniel Thomas Cook

The Journal of American History
Lisa Jacobson's work represents one of the strongest offerings in the group.

— Paula Petrik

Journal of Social History
Raising Consumers offers a convincing portrayal of how consumerism powerfully reshaped childhood.

— Susan J. Matt, Weber State University

Urban History Review
Raising Consumers is a compelling and persuasive book and an enjoyable read.

— Magda Fahrni

The Historian
This marvelous history of the commercialization of childhood since 1890 shows how serious scholarship can place contemporary anxieties into fresh perspective.

— Steven Mintz

Journal of Popular Culture
Undoubtedly Raising Consumers helps us to better understand the middle-class child's story in the history of American consumer culture.

— Jeremy K. Saucier

American Historical Review
An Admiral piece of scholarship...far more thoroughly researched and contextualized than previous work on the history of children and consumption.

— Arwen P. Mohun, University of Delaware

H-Childhood
An excellent contribution to our growing understanding of the rise of a consumer society and its effects on individuals of all ages.

— Kelly Schrum

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231113892
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/7/2005
  • Series: Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Jacobson is an associate professor in the history department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction"Big Sales from Little Folks":The Development of Juvenile AdvertisingFrom Thrift Education to Consumer Training: Reforming the Child SpenderHeroes of the New Consumer Age: Imagining Boy ConsumersAthletic Girls and Beauty Queens: Imagining the Peer-Conscious Adolescent ConsumersRevitalizing the American Home: Playrooms, Parenting, and the Middle-Class Child ConsumerRadio Clubs and the Consolidation of Children's Consumer Culture During the Great DepressionEpilogueNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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