Presentation on theme: "“I thought it was sly, ‘cos they’ve got it so early, they can afford it and we can’t because my mum says we can’t.” Growing up and fitting in: Children’s."— Presentation transcript:
“I thought it was sly, ‘cos they’ve got it so early, they can afford it and we can’t because my mum says we can’t.” Growing up and fitting in: Children’s experiences of consumption Julie Evans College of St Mark & St John Plymouth
Aim: To explore the changing nature of consumption and the discourses surrounding this aspect of the sociology of consumption literature. Relative to notions of both contemporary family life and equally contemporary notions of parenting. Empirical study primarily ‘child-focused’ to understand how they were experiencing ‘inequality’ through a consumer culture lens
Childhood and consumption have become deeply enmeshed with each other in fundamental ways (Cook 2005) “Children have become conduits from the consumer marketplace into the household, the link between advertisers and the family purse” (Schor, 2004:11) …a shift into a more consumer orientated society has resulted in new kinds of childhood (Prout 2000)
Polarisation in the literature: Often a judgemental edge to and ambiguity about why parents are motivated to buy particular commodities for their children – lower SE groups seen as ‘irresponsible’ (Furnham, 2000) ‘Consumption as Compensation’ (Pugh, 2002) ‘Cash-Rich and Time Poor’ (Rice, 2000)
Marginalised children seek recognition and acceptance as well as legitimation, by being equal members of the consumer society (Smith, 2000) Thus children (and parents) use consumption as a resource for avoiding the appearance of being poor (see Willis 1977).
Whilst children may well end up with the same item or commodity the unequal distribution of resources in households may have a profound impact on the individual’s relationship to consumption. The way in which those items are purchased varies significantly in terms of planning, method of payment, time and eventual acquisition (Berhau 2000 cited in Pugh, 2004).
Sample 45 children aged 7-11 24 Girls and 21 Boys 19 Parents aged 28 – 47 14 Mothers 5 Fathers 2 areas (SW) based on IMD score
Table 1 Area Profiles of East Street and West Street AreaPopulation% of Pop. receiving Income Support Average % Locally Average % Nationally Indices of Dep. (Rank) 2000 Child Poverty Index score East Street12,400199824977.28 West Street17,500598502522.85 (Source National Statistics, 2001).
Methods Children: Diaries Self-chosen focus groups Rewriting end of a story Parents: Individual semi-structured interviews after work had been completed with children
Intrafamilial dynamics How children negotiated How parents prioritise Effects on household budgets Different household forms Children’s lived experiences of consumer culture
The data illustrates the degree to which material possessions provide a means of ‘inclusion’ to display appropriate signifiers of consumer culture. This was evidenced at first hand for many children in the study and was keenly felt in the less affluent area.
Researcher: Why did you want Adidas trainers? India: Because everyone takes the mick out of my ‘Hi-Tec’ ones. Researcher: Why what’s the matter with them? India: Nothing it’s just the make of them everyone says they’re horrible and that, that they’re cheap. [Aged 7/ES]
Max: Don’t get tooken the mick out of ‘cos they’re in the fashion and people see they dress smartly. Sam: ‘cos like you’d get stuff from Oxfam or something they’d take the mick. Max: There’s a girl in our class she wears like charity things. Researcher: Do you think people make a difference because of that. Sam: Yeah ‘cos they take the mick don’t they? Adam and Joe: Yeah! [Aged 10/ES]
Tamara: I asked my mum can I have a pair of Nike trainers and she goes no love you can wait until you go straight to secondary School or maybe next month… Researcher: Why would you want Nike trainers? Tamara: Because I wants them for secondary school 'cos everybody takes the mick out of people's shoes and my mum goes, "no because I've got to pay £65 for your trip to Delaware by next Monday and she goes after that I swear you can definitely have 'em. [11/ES]
Parents… Bev: I think, I think that at this time I mean when I was younger I didn’t feel there was any pressure but I think now there’s like magazines and you must do that, you must do that and I think there is a lot of pressure at school now. Where if well just say Fred Bloggs walks in with all Nike things on and then you’ve got someone else with market stuff on exactly the same but because it hasn’t got Nike on that child would be sort of victimised and I’ve seen it done as well.
June: I suppose in some respects once they get to a sort of secondary school age I nearly encourage… I think they don’t want to be different to their friends so I’m not going to make them different so if everyone’s wearing an Adidas tee-shirt then I would pay for an Adidas tee-shirt so as they don’t feel left out of in the peer group really.
What the above examples from the less-affluent area demonstrate very clearly is the first-hand experience of the consequences of ‘not fitting-in’. Having the ‘right’ clothes signals group belonging and personal status (Croghan et al. 2006; Waerdahl, 2005)
Looking back, looking forward Jenny: When I was younger there wasn’t a lot of money around and…I can remember my mother having to buy second-hand hand toys for us which she didn’t have any other choice but she felt really bad buying second [hand]…. And I think…I’ve just gone totally the other way. Whereas, if I can get it for ‘em they can have it I’m sorting of making up for what I never had. (Parent – less affluent area)
Children’s responses… Becca: You wouldn’t care because no-one cared about you. Researcher: Is that what you think that if you get lots of things people care about you? Tom: Doesn’t really make a difference but some people do think that people don’t care about them if they don’t give them lots of things. (8-year olds- ES)
Mel: …“because they love ‘em better” (aged 10 ES) Lila: My mum gets like really nice clothes from like ‘Next’ and all that...well they say oh you’re lucky you’ve got really nice parents who will spend lots of money on you (Child/10 WS)
Pocket money Majority of the children were receiving some form of pocket money Often earnt – chores, good behaviour, educational success Supply erratic in LA area – ties in with Shropshire & Middleton (1999)
Jake: Yeah my gran gives me about 3 or 4 pound, sometimes I do jobs for her because she’s a bit old and I get about £2 for that and I gets about £4 off her and it depends when she gets her money. Researcher: Right does she give you that every week or just sometimes? Jake: If she hasn’t got much money she might um give me 2 pound extra the next week.
Tensions… Bev: TV, video, cable in their bedroom my oldest one would be magazines she watches a lot of MTV ‘cos they’ve got cable in their bedroom as well, terrible ‘int I? [This parent was half apologising for this as well as seemingly being quite pleased that she is able to provide these material comforts for her children] Sally: …well she’s got her own computer um she’s got Sky connected now up in to her bedroom. I pay an extra 6 pounds for it for her to have it in her bedroom [P/ES]
Researcher: Is that something that you probably wouldn’t have bought? Gina: Oh definitely! There’s no way I’d have bought that. Researcher: Right, so what made you say…yeah okay? Gina: Because everybody’s got them and you don’t want your child to be different. (Parent/WS area)
June: “You know if one needs a new bike then one can have a new bike but I don’t feel obliged to spend you know £200 on the others. They have a bike when they need one.” Polly: “Um last Christmas wasn’t bad I only went 70 quid in to debt last year I managed to like keep pennies back and save but the Christmas before I went in to 250 pound in to debt ‘cos they wanted bikes.”
Bauman’s (1998) point that parents and children alike recognise that consumer goods can play an important role in facilitating participation in a ‘normal’ life.
Tracy: I really wanted these trainers and I sees them on my friends like Claire and all that and then we ask our mum, begs ‘em and then Christmas comes you get it and you go into School and they’ve got a different make it’s like… Tez: I thought it was sly ‘cos they’ve got it so early and they can afford it and we can’t because my mum says we can’t.