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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Children's Consumer Culture

ANNA SPARRMAN

Linköping University, Sweden

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs040

Over the past half century, research on children and consumption has expanded and changed both theoretically and methodologically. As a research area, children's consumer culture was established and developed from the 1990s onward. It has progressed in parallel with the development of the social construction of children and childhood, as presented by the “new” sociology of and history of childhood (today called child studies or childhood studies). The new sociology of childhood provided a severe critique of the lack of focus on children in disciplines such as anthropology, history, sociology, and feminism. Moreover, it challenged the supremacy of psychological theories when researching children. The most important contribution of the new sociology of childhood, however, was the changing view of children as situated social members of and actors in society.

Critique similar to that expressed in the sociology of childhood has also been aimed at consumer research. As pointed out by consumer and childhood researcher Daniel Thomas Cook (2008), children have consistently been neglected in consumer theories. Likewise, between the 1950s and 1990s, developmental psychology and social behaviorism were the predominant theoretical approaches for investigating and understanding children's consumer behaviors.

Theoretically, children's consumer culture aligns with the change in approach ...

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