11. Commercial Epistemologies of Childhood: “Fun” and the Leveraging of Children's Subjectivities and Desires
Promoting and marketing products intended for children's use and consumption takes place within a highly surveilled, emotionally charged moral context. At its heart, the moral question surrounding children's participation in consumer life concerns itself with determining the extent to which the target market (usually specified by age and gender) can be said to be able to behave as knowing consumers. If the child consumer is imagined as willful, even savvy, then suspicion of exploitation is obviated to some extent because the child can be said to have the ability to be a knowing, active decision-maker. Drawing mainly upon published trade materials, this chapter examines how knowledge derived in and from marketing practice, including consumer research, configure notions of the “child” in ways that make marketing to children not only morally palatable but, in some cases, akin to a civic duty. The “child” here — more specifically, the child's perspective — takes on the character of a currency or value to be leveraged so as to secure market share. The marketing of “fun” and “fun foods” serves to illustrate the notion of marketers' commercial epistemologies.
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