Book Review: Longing & Belonging

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Pugh, Allison J. Longing and belonging : parents, children, and consumer culture. University of California Press, 2009.

In affluent and low-income families alike, spending on children has exploded. Some of the blame belongs to advertising, a powerful factor in ramping up children’s desires and parents’ spending practices. Some of the blame belongs to the costliness of childhood toys, such as a $300 Nintendo, $90 American Girl doll or $165 for a pair of Air Jordans.

In Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children and Consumer Culture, Sociology professor Allison Pugh provides an in-depth analysis of a third reason parents spend for their children. Children want to belong to a group and conversations at school and in the neighborhood are about materials goods. Children yearn to join these conversations, and their parents don’t want them to be left out.

Poor families buy expensive children’s goods at great financial sacrifice. Affluent parents can afford them but feel guilty for selling out to the commercial culture. All parents wish to prevent their children from feeling invisible with their peers. Anyone wishing to opt out finds it very difficult.

In the end, this is a book about consumer culture and how parents use material goods to help construct happy childhoods for their children.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library РFuqua School of Business.

All rights reserved.

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