Date of Award
Thomas R. Hudspeth
Judith L. Kaplan
materialism, consumerism, counter-consumerism, picture books, consumer involvement, children’s literature
Scholars across various disciplines are increasingly concerned about the impact of the pervasiveness of consumer culture on children in the U.S. and other affluent nations. The many detrimental effects of consumerism are most often attributed to exposure to television and advertisements. Some scholars argue that commercialization has even taken over children’s literature, but little known research has been conducted on the role of children’s literature in shaping material and consumer values at a young age, even though it is a crucial medium for development. This study explored how children’s picture books potentially deter or reinforce materialism and consumerism in young children through a content analysis of a sample of 30 picture books. Text and illustrations were coded for the occurrence of indicators of consumerism or counter-consumerism. Fifty indicators were identified across ten categories that represent different ways in which picture books can promote and discourage the consumer socialization of readers. The frequencies of these indicators were explored across a variety of parameters. In addition to contributing to the literature on children and consumer socialization, this research offers a newly developed coding tool for further research on material values in literary media. It also identifies leverage points for shaping consumerism through more careful selection of children’s picture books by parents, educators, and children alike.
Franz, Rachel J., "Cultivating Little Consumers: How Picture Books Influence Materialism in Children" (2013). Environmental Studies Electronic Thesis Collection. 25.