Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture

Article excerpt

J. Pugh Allison. LONGING AND BELONGING: PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND CONSUMER CULTURE, 320 pages, University of California Press, 2009, (he) $55.00, (pb) $18.76.

This engaging exploration of the relationships between children, parents, and children's consumer products will appeal to anyone interested in children's socialization in the United States, as well as parenting practices, race, class, and/or consumer culture. Pugh uses her ethnographic research with African American and white families of different economic statuses in the Oakland, California area to illuminate the meanings parents and children of different races and classes bring to their practices of consumption.

There is much that is solid about this book: detailed and interesting schoolyard and classroom vignettes, illuminating interview excerpts with parents of different racial and economic backgrounds, and musings upon the linkages between children's products and the contexts in which they're consumed. Pugh frames her data with two concepts: the economy of dignitythe social meanings children assign to their goods and how those are used to confer status among children, and the economy of hope-the meanings parents attribute to their choices about neighborhoods, schools, and other resources they hope will further their children's futures. She explores the meanings of each, and how they're connected through parents' fervent desires, no matter their means, to provide their children with the best they can. …

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