The Business of Consumerism – Resources

December 19th, 2008

As the Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping frenzy this year, 3 people died in shopping-related deaths.  Even as the credit crisis and waves of layoffs pressure the pocketbooks of millions of Americans, advertisers desperately attempt to find our unfulfilled needs. How does consumerism shape our society? As new generations of parents mold a new generation of consumers, how are businesses working to extend their brand to children?

This week, we’re looking at the past and future of consumerism in America.  We’ll delve into the psychological elements of consumer behavior, and explore how the relationship between parents, businesses and children shapes our consumer culture.

Listen to the Full Episode | Download MP3

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Part 1: Jackson Lears, Cultural Historian | Download MP3

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T.J. Jackson Lears is a Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University. He’s the author of Something for Nothing: Luck in America and Fables of Abundance: a Cultural History of Advertising in America, and he’s the Editor-in-Chief, Raritan Quarterly Review. Jackson Lears is also the author of the forthcoming culture history of the United States, Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920.


Part 2: John Cacioppo, Social Neuroscientist | Download MP3

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John Cacioppo is a social neuroscientist, the Tiffany and Margaraet Blake Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and the author, most recently, of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. Cacioppo leads a team of scholars that received a $7.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to study social, behavioral and neural mechanisms responsible for the association between social isolation (and feelings of isolation) and broad-based morbidity and mortality. Check out a recent opinion piece he published in the Wall Street Journal, “The State of Solitude”.

Part 3: Dan Cook, Child Researcher | Download MP3

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Dan Cook is a Associate Professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University-Camden. He is the author of The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer and has an edited book forthcoming, The Lived Experiences of Public Consumption. Dr. Cook’s research focuses on the phenomena of children as consumers in the United States. In particular, he explores how tensions between “the child” and “the market” create children’s consumer culture, including through advertising, food, rituals, clothing and media. Dr. Cook is also the founder of The Consumer Studies Research Network (CSRN), a scholarly network created to exchange information about how commodities and a market logic have come to pervade virtually all forms of social life and social interaction.

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