Born to Buy
The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
Like Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia, and Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, Born to Buy is a major contribution to our understanding of a contemporary trend and its effects on the culture.
Read an Excerpt
The United States is the most consumer-oriented society in the world. People work longer hours than in any other industrialized country. Savings rates are lower. Consumer credit has exploded, and roughly a million and a half households declare bankruptcy every year. There are more than 46,000 shopping centers in the country, a nearly two-thirds increase since 1986. Despite fewer people per household, the size of houses continues to expand rapidly, with new construction featuring walk-in closets and three- and four-car garages to store record quantities of stuff. According to my estimates, the average adult... see more
Reading Group Guide
Born to Buy
1. Schor describes a marketing juggernaut of unprecedented size, scope, and sophistication. Why has marketing to children become so much more pervasive and extensive than in the past? What are the major strategies marketers are using in their communications with children?
2. How do you think children are affected by "tweening" (p. 56)? Do you think that children today are maturing at an earlier age? If so, why do you think that is?
3. Schor points out that advertisers have incredible influence over children's views. They are able to promote ideas, like "antiadultism," and manipulate points of view, such as what kids consider "cool." How did forces outside the family become so influential? How can parents regain their central role in educating and advising their children?
4. What do you think about the use of children in developing and marketing potential products? The author discusses some of the unaddressed ethical aspects of using children in this way, but marketers defend their actions, saying they are just trying to make products that kids will like. What about schools' participating in marketing plans? Do you think schools should be marketing-free zones?
5. On page 21, the author describes one marketing company's pitch in which children were represented as wild animals and the advertising companies as the British colonial hunter. Discuss this analogy.
6. Discus see more