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Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture Paperback – October 18, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Parents will be tempted to read Born to Buy as a kind of contemporary horror story, with ever more sophisticated marketing wunderkinds as Dr. Frankensteins and their children as the relentless monsters they create. Indeed, it's difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the avariciousness, omnipotence, and ingenuity of the advertising industry Juliet B. Schor portrays when it comes to transforming preschool kids into voracious, 'tude-infused consumers. Intermixing research data with anecdotal illustrations, Schor chronicles the rapid development of a once-shackled industry that now markets R-rated movies to 9-year-olds. The mind boggles at the notion that Seventeen magazine's target readership is now pre-teens. While Schor unearths a surplus of information on the effectiveness of advertising, she's not nearly as adept at proposing effective responses. Reacting to the power and creativity of the consumer culture with politically unfeasible regulation and parental diligence is a little like attacking Frankenstein's creature with torches. Still, Born to Buy is an eye-opening account of an industry that is commercializing childhood with remarkable effectiveness and insouciance. --Steven Stolder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

According to consumerism and economics expert Schor (The Overspent American), the average 10-year-old has memorized about 400 brands, the average kindergartner can identify some 300 logos and from as early as age two kids are "bonded to brands." Some may call it brainwashing, others say it's genius; regardless of how you see it, the approach is the same: target young kids directly and consistently, appeal to them and not the adults in their lives and get your product name in their heads from as early an age as possible. From TV shows and toys to video games, snacks and clothing, kids today, according to Schor, know too much yet understand too little, sopping up subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages of "buy, buy, buy." Drawing on a significant body of research, including interviews with everyone from advertising executives to the kids themselves, Schor exposes what she believes to be a huge cesspool of materialism, consumerism and commercialization that could be, and perhaps already is, leading to a generation of kids with no concept of what is important and truly necessary in life. By offering up her own ideas of what can be done by parents, educators, advertisers and others to lessen these problems, Schor goes beyond uncovering the problem and into the realm of concrete solutions.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (October 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684870568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684870564
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is an extended report on current marketing practices aimed at children and their results. The author begins by noting how marketing practices have changed over the last ten to fifteen years. In the 1970s and 1980s, when many of today's new parents were growing up, laws and industry practices provided some level of protection and privacy for children from the focus of marketing campaigns. Now, however, the gloves are off, and marketing firms shamelessly push everything from junk food to beer, cigarettes, cosmetics, and cars to `tweens, children between the ages of 6 and 12. Schor worked closely with marketing professionals while gathering information for this book so that she could obtain insider views. At the end of the book, Schor notes that these marketers generally feel horrible about what they do and the lengths they go to, but feel they have to continue in order to feed their own families.

The kinds of marketing practices that Schor describes in this book are shocking and outrageous. Many parents have heard of Channel One, an organization that puts TVs in schools for free, but parents may not be aware that in exchange for use of the equipment, administrators agree to force students to watch Channel One program complete with commercials while sitting in their seats and with the volume turned on. But force-feeding commercials to a captive audience of school kids is nothing compared to other current practices, such as having children conduct and even surreptitiously videotape focus-group data from friends at slumber parties that marketers pay them to organize.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a practicing child psychologist, and I have followed the media and their impact on children for a number of years. I found Dr. Schor's arguement accurate and convincing. I think the book is a must read for parents seriously concerned about the way big advertising is socializing their kids.

By the way, I recommended the book to my book club -- all men, mostly with children. Me, a child psychiatrist, a lawyer and a bunch of engineer types. Not a group for "chick books." We thought it was one of the best we've read in a couple of years.
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Format: Hardcover
It is no secret that children today wield more consumer power than ever, and that marketers have discovered them as one of the most profitable niches. But what is the real impact of all of this consumer attention on children?

In her latest book, renowned economist, consumer/family studies expert, and founding New American Dream Board Member Juliet B. Schor argues that this impact is detrimental, and something we ought to be paying much more attention to.

Says Schor, "We have become a nation that places a lower priority on teaching its children how to thrive socially, intellectually, even spiritually, than it does on training them to consume."

Indeed, her documentation of commercialization within schools is truly disturbing. And the results of a survey which Schor administered to a sampling of "tween"-aged children strongly indicate that heavy involvement in consumer culture jeopardizes children's well-being.

Ultimately, Schor argues that we need to take steps to decommercialize childhood, and she lays out several intriguing ideas for how to do so. Highly captivating and packed with vivid examples, this book should be required reading not only for parents but for anyone who cares about the future of our society.
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Format: Paperback
There's not doubt that corporations, advertisers and marketers do not have your child's best interest at heart. Schor provides a comprehensive account of the what, why and how marketers are targeting your children.

Reading "Born to Buy" will make you want to throw out the TV, disconnect from the Internet, run to the country and home-school your children. Simply put, there's no way to avoid marketing techniques, and your child will succumb to the corporate-commercially constructed childhood. With all the doom and gloom in this book, Schor offers little hope of avoidance...in the end, she does provide a few solutions.

All in all, "Born to Buy" was very informative and an easy, entertaining read. However, some of Schor's original research and statistics caused me to get bogged down. I wasn't looking for scholarly research and did not need to see these statistics. Additionally, Schor seemed to use this book as a chance to take shots at the Bush administration. Although I'm not a fan of this administration and some of the criticism is valid, I do not think Bush started this problem...he's just done nothing to fix it.

All in all, this is well worth the read, especially if you have small children...just skip over the stats near the end, and forgive Schor's attempts at making this political.
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Format: Paperback
The influence of consumerism on my children has been a concern to me for a long time. From the moment I first held my son, I realized that I had a deep responsibility to raise him with strong values and the ability to reason through information presented to him, and I feel exactly the same way about my daughter. To me, modern consumerism is just a bunch of noise attempting to drown out this message, using any number of ploys to convince my children to not make well-reasoned decisions, particularly when it comes to material goods and money.

Born to Buy focuses in on those very issues. It's written by Juliet Schor, who also wrote The Overspent American, a book focusing on adults and consumerism that I reviewed a while back and quite enjoyed.

Much like Schor's earlier book, I found Born to Buy thoroughly well-researched and insightful, but did it really open my eyes to the relationship between consumer behavior and my children? Let's dig into the book and find out.

One quick general comment: this book is fact-packed and well researched. In fact, it's almost overwhelming and I found myself reading it in chunks and on occasion tracking down referenced source materials to find out more. To me, this is a good thing; to others, it may come off like drinking from a fire hose.

Introduction
The book opens with a historical perspective of the history of marketing, going back to the nascent days when children weren't marketed to at all, forward to the period between World War I and World War II where marketing for child-targeted products were pitched at the parents, on to today where most advertising is targeted at children in some way or another.

The Changing World of Children's Consumption
To be honest, I found this chapter depressing.
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