Childhood and Consumption. Historiographical Reflections and Research Hypotheses

Author/s Barbara Montesi
Publishing Year 2023 Issue 2023/303 Language Italian
Pages 20 P. 149-168 File size 170 KB
DOI 10.3280/IC2023-303006
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What does the child want? Raising and addressing this question reveal “the child as a consumer”. On the basis of an extensive international historiography, and focusing on the analysis of commercial practices that give increasing recognition to children’s agency, the author investigates the complex relationship between childhood, families and the market in Italy during the Twentieth century. With a gender perspective, the essay shows, firstly, how the “discovery” of childhood goes hand in hand with the expansion of the market for children’s products. Secondly, as the media culture changes, it also highlights an increasingly direct and exclusive dialogue between market and children with the parallel marginalization, to the point expulsion, of adults as decision-makers and intermediaries. For the 1980s, the author demonstrates how the culture of consumption of children reshapes the culture of consumption tout court, the very definition of childhood, the relationships between generations, and the ways of socialization between peers.

Keywords: childhood, market, family, consumption, mass media, gender

Barbara Montesi, Infanzia e consumi. Riflessioni storiografiche e ipotesi di ricerca in "ITALIA CONTEMPORANEA" 303/2023, pp 149-168, DOI: 10.3280/IC2023-303006