ESRC RESEARCH SEMINAR
Identities and Consumption
The new consumers: Childhood and youth
Monday September 11th 2006
Dr Alice Bartholomew and Dr Stephanie O’Donohoe, The University of Edinburgh
“Childhood transitions, consumption and the gender agenda”
The field of consumer socialization has expanded to incorporate children’s socialization through consumption as well as their socialization as consumers. Our starting point in this paper is the debate about whether children are human beings or human becomings. Following Johansson (2004), we argue that these two categories are not mutually exclusive, and we explore how children approaching adolescence use consumption to negotiate the process of becoming older. Specifically, we explore how the consumption of products, media and advertising by Scottish 10-12 year-olds was intertwined with their existential concerns about “becoming”. In addition to showing how consumption of things, media and advertising reflected - and were used to reflect on - their shifting selves, the paper explores their use of consumption to negotiate gendered identities and relationships.