We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Towards a Contemporary Sociology of Children and Consumption

ELLIS, LIZ (2011) Towards a Contemporary Sociology of Children and Consumption. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


This research explores children’s consumption practices, and through doing so contributes to the sociology of children and of consumption.
Although there exists a growing body of research on children’s consumption, children and childhood are often only viewed as one of the contexts in which consumption takes place. Furthermore practices of consumption are seen as something which children are socialised into, moving from incompetent (child) to competent (adult) consumer. There are many taken for granted yet ambiguous conceptualisations of children’s relationship with consumer culture, for example the dichotomy between empowered and exploited child consumers. Consequently this research attempts to go beyond these taken for granted assumptions by engaging in face-to-face empirical work which explores the ways in which a group of children, aged between six and ten years old consume. The children took part in interviews and accompanied shopping trips, as well as completing journals in order to provide a detailed account of their practices of consumption. The ways in which children come to consume were explored and in particular the influence of family, peer groups, and the market was examined.
Ultimately, this research provides one of the first empirical explorations of Daniel Cook’s (2010) theory of ‘commercial enculturation’. In doing so this thesis recognises that children are not mini-consumers in need of consumer socialisation, instead they are agentic social actors who constantly create and re-create their own social worlds which includes aspects of consumption. For the most part consumption is not something which stands outside of childhood experience and it is neither inherently exploitative nor empowering. Additionally, an exploration of moderation provides an original insight into children’s consumption practices. Children do not simply pester significant others in order to get what they want, instead they adopt and maintain a sophisticated understanding and relationship with consumption. Furthermore an examination of children’s consumption practices acknowledges consumption as a relational practice firmly located within the wider social relationships of the family.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Consumption, children, moderation, commercial enculturation, accompanied shopping trips.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:19 Oct 2011 09:25

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter