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Deconstructing the children's culture industry : a retrospective analysis from young people Hill, Jennifer Ann 2013

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DECONSTRUCTING THE CHILDREN‘S CULTURE INDUSTRY: A RETROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS FROM YOUNG PEOPLE  by JENNIFER ANN HILL  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF Doctor of Philosophy  in  THE COLLEGE OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Interdisciplinary Studies) (Social Work, Sociology, Psychology,)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Okanagan)  April 2013  © Jennifer Ann Hill, 2013  ABSTRACT The children‘s ―culture industry,‖ meaning the mass production of popular culture by corporations, has systematically targeted children to persuade them to desire commodities while promising an increase in happiness. Media in all forms has become the conduit through which corporations have access to children and the means by which they influence, mould and profoundly impact children's lives. Indeed, consumer culture plays a dominant role for individuals living in such cultures, arguably more than any other institution including government. In the 1990s, the most intense commercial campaign in the history of childhood had commenced. Despite the pervasiveness of consumerism, there has been a notable gap in the literature to ascertain from young people, in their own words, what are the experiences of and meanings attributed to consumerism throughout their childhoods. Using a paradigm of qualitative research, the present dissertation provides a detailed description of how young people, those aged 18 or 19, perceive the presence of consumer culture in their lives, both presently and with particular focus on the past, as children. Data presented here suggest that most of the young people interviewed feel considerable pressure to conform to the standards of consumerism, including the adoption of brand culture, fads and a ‗buy-and-consume‘ modality. Furthermore, the very identities of young people are inextricably linked to the process of consumption including the desiring, acquiring and discarding of consumable objects. Nonetheless, the participants were adamant their individuality had not been altered by mass culture, and that they were free to make choices as citizens in democracies have come to expect. Overall, the participants‘ responses demonstrated a distinct lack of insight about the motives of corporations, the power of advertising/media and their far-reaching influence on thoughts and behaviours. However, hopeful signs of understanding and resistance arose among some of the participants, including two in particular, who strongly expressed their desire to not conform.  ii  PREFACE The research study upon which this dissertation was based was approved by the University of British Columbia Okanagan Behavioural Research Ethics Board on May 17, 2011. The UBC BREB number is H11-00447.  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii Preface .......................................................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents .......................................................................................................................... iv Acknowledgement ........................................................................................................................ xi Dedication .................................................................................................................................... xii Introduction.................................................................................................................................... 1 The Presenting Problem ....................................................................................................... 1 Background and Significance............................................................................................... 2 Statement of the Problem ..................................................................................................... 3 Purpose of the Study ............................................................................................................ 4 Rationale............................................................................................................................... 4 Significance of the Study ..................................................................................................... 5 Research Aims...................................................................................................................... 6 Overview of the Study.......................................................................................................... 6 Chapter One: Theories on Mass Culture ..................................................................................... 10 The Culture Industry .......................................................................................................... 12 Mediums of Mass Culture: The Delivery of Control ........................................................ 12 Television.................................................................................................................. 12 Music ........................................................................................................................ 13 Movies ...................................................................................................................... 15 Pseudo-Reality ................................................................................................................... 15 Commodification of Culture: Exchange-Value versus Use-Value .................................... 17 The Mechanism of Conformity .......................................................................................... 19 Culture Industry and Totalitarianism ................................................................................. 22 One-Dimensional Man and Totalitarianism ....................................................................... 23 The Inception of Mass Culture ........................................................................................... 26 Corporate Rule ................................................................................................................... 33 The Infantilist Ethos and Totalism ..................................................................................... 34 Inverted Totalitarinism ....................................................................................................... 40 iv  Theoretical Implications for Children Living in Consumer Cultures ................................ 44 Chapter Two: Children‘s ‗culture industry‘: Literature Review ................................................. 47 Historical Growth of the Children‘s Culture Industry ....................................................... 52 Toy-Based Programming ................................................................................................... 53 Supersytems and Licensing ................................................................................................ 55 Marketing Strategies and their Effects ............................................................................... 56 Constructing the Tween ..................................................................................................... 58 Gauging Children‘s Health................................................................................................. 59 The Potency of Television and Advertising ....................................................................... 63 Usurping Play ..................................................................................................................... 65 Corporate Control of Children‘s Space .............................................................................. 66 Selling Cool ........................................................................................................................ 67 Violence in the Media ............................................................................................... 67 Sex in the Media ....................................................................................................... 70 Sex and Television ..........................................................................................................71 Sex and Popular Music ...................................................................................................71 Sexualization of Girls ......................................................................................................72  Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs and Media Exposure ........................................................ 73 Stereotypes ......................................................................................................................... 73 Undermining Adults ........................................................................................................... 74 Empirical Research on Consumerism, Materialism and Well-being of Children .............. 75 Identity in Relation to Consumer Culture .......................................................................... 81 Theories and Definitions ........................................................................................... 81 Children‘s Identity in Modernity: the Double-Edged Sword of Technology ........... 85 Narcissism and Personality Disorders ...................................................................... 86 Branding.................................................................................................................... 88 Research on the effects of branding ..............................................................................90  Materialism in Relation to Identity: Relevant Empirical Research .......................... 91 Consumer Culture and Gender Issues ................................................................................ 94 Girls and the Beauty Myth: Relevant Research ........................................................ 94 From Disordered Eating to Ultra-Masculine: Understanding the ‗Boy Code‖ ........ 95 v  How Children Benefit From Consumer Culture: An Evaluation ....................................... 97 Agency ...................................................................................................................... 97 Empowerment ........................................................................................................... 98 Opportunities for creativity, community and self-fulfillment .................................. 99 Citizens of the free market ........................................................................................ 99 Advertisements are educational .............................................................................. 100 Communication revolution ..................................................................................... 100 Which Side of the ‗Debate‘ Holds the Greatest Merit? ................................................... 101 Conclusion........................................................................................................................ 106 Chapter Three: Conformity, Creativity and the Mechanisms of Persuasion ............................. 109 Persuasion......................................................................................................................... 111 Conformity and Norms..................................................................................................... 111 Non-Conformity ............................................................................................................... 113 Deviance and Non-Conformity ........................................................................................ 114 Cialdini‘s Six Weapons of Influence ............................................................................... 115 Reciprocity .............................................................................................................. 115 Scarcity ................................................................................................................... 115 Authority ................................................................................................................. 115 Social Validation..................................................................................................... 116 Liking ...................................................................................................................... 116 Consistency ............................................................................................................. 116 Research on Conformity................................................................................................... 117 Milgram‘s ‗Obedience to Authority‘ Experiments ................................................. 119 Zimbardo‘s Prison Experiment: Conformity under Systemic Influence ................ 121 Research on Persuasion and Conformity with Children .................................................. 122 Social Consent in Consumer Societies ............................................................................. 124 Social Dominance Theory and Conformity ............................................................ 125 Individuality: The Face of Conformity ............................................................................ 127 Components of Creativity ................................................................................................ 128 Agency-Structure Dichotomy .......................................................................................... 131 Neuro-Marketing and the Malleable Mind....................................................................... 133 vi  Conscious versus Subconscious Processing: 21st Century Marketing .................... 134 Brands ..................................................................................................................... 136 Somatic Marker Hypothesis.................................................................................... 136 Conclusion........................................................................................................................ 136 Review.............................................................................................................................. 138 Chapter Four: Methodology ...................................................................................................... 139 Research Question ............................................................................................................ 140 Interviews ......................................................................................................................... 141 Critical Theory ................................................................................................................. 141 Qualitative Research Design ............................................................................................ 143 Interviews................................................................................................................ 143 Interviewer (Researcher)......................................................................................... 144 Sampling and Recruitment...................................................................................... 145 Sample size...................................................................................................................145  Informed Consent and Ethical Principles ............................................................... 146 Data Collection ....................................................................................................... 146 Data Analyses ......................................................................................................... 146 Transcription and Editing .............................................................................................147 Coding ..........................................................................................................................147  Critical Discourse Analysis .................................................................................... 147 Trustworthiness ................................................................................................................ 148 Truth Value (Credibility) ........................................................................................ 149 Applicability (Generalizability) .............................................................................. 149 Consistency ............................................................................................................. 150 Neutrality (Confirmability) ..................................................................................... 150 Validity ............................................................................................................................. 151 Ethical Validation ................................................................................................... 151 Chapter 5: Results ...................................................................................................................... 152 Inside the Culture Industry (Theme) ................................................................................ 152 Ownership (Category)............................................................................................. 153 Endless Desiring (Code)................................................................................................153  vii  Shopaholic....................................................................................................................155 High on Acquisition ......................................................................................................156 Acquisition Stymied .....................................................................................................157 Social Reinforcement of Acquisition ............................................................................157 Fanatical About Fads ....................................................................................................159  Brands ..................................................................................................................... 160 Brand Acquisition: Male Participants...........................................................................160 Brand Acquisition: Female Participants .......................................................................162 Brand Free....................................................................................................................163 Can Do Without/Materially Satisfied ...........................................................................164  Capturing Cool ........................................................................................................ 164 Cool Persona ................................................................................................................165 Desiring a Celebrity Look .............................................................................................166 Motivated By Cool .......................................................................................................167 James’ Story: Personifying Cool ...................................................................................168  Summary: Inside the Culture Industry .................................................................... 169 Identity ............................................................................................................................. 171 Individuality ............................................................................................................ 171 I'm My Own Person......................................................................................................171 In Control .....................................................................................................................172 Individuality versus Conformity ...................................................................................173  Conformity .............................................................................................................. 174 Pressure to Conform Within Consumer Cultures ........................................................175 Pro Fad .........................................................................................................................177  Non-Conformity...................................................................................................... 178 Free of Fad Influence ...................................................................................................178 Questioning a Consuming-Oriented Lifestyle ..............................................................179  Values ..................................................................................................................... 180 No Values Related to Consuming.................................................................................180 Socially Conscious with a Caveat .................................................................................181 Conscientious About the Environment ........................................................................181  viii  Consuming In the Context of Environmental Issues ....................................................182  Money ..................................................................................................................... 183 More Is Not Better .......................................................................................................184 Relationship to Money .................................................................................................184 John’s Story: A Career Path for the Environment .......................................................186  Summary: Identity .................................................................................................. 187 Media................................................................................................................................ 188 The Self, Relationships and Media ......................................................................... 188 Technological Goods ....................................................................................................189 Screen Time Versus Down Time ..................................................................................192 Self-Worth Compromised by Media ............................................................................193 Emulating Media ..........................................................................................................194 Media Wary..................................................................................................................195 Media Effects on Relationships with Parents and Peers .............................................196  Advertising.............................................................................................................. 197 The Lure of Advertising ................................................................................................197 Confused about Advertising.........................................................................................199 Negative on Advertising ...............................................................................................200 Self-Worth and Advertising..........................................................................................201 Ingrid’s Story: Despair and Media................................................................................201  Summary: Media..................................................................................................... 203 Chapter 6: Discussion ................................................................................................................ 205 Inside the Culture Industry ............................................................................................... 206 Identity ............................................................................................................................. 212 Media................................................................................................................................ 219 Application of the Results and Previous Research........................................................... 223 Implications of the Results ............................................................................................... 224 What Can Be Done for Children? .................................................................................... 225 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 227 Inverted Totalitarianism: Priming Children to Consume ................................................. 227 Future Citizens ................................................................................................................. 229 ix  Future Research ................................................................................................................ 230 References.................................................................................................................................. 233 Appendices ................................................................................................................................ 257 Appendix A: Interview Questions ................................................................................... 257 Appendix B: Recruitment Script ...................................................................................... 259  x  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Daniel Salhani, my supervisor, has shown incredible generosity, thoughtfulness and support throughout the process of the dissertation. Not only have his ideas and suggestions been invaluable, his appreciation of the topic itself has been most encouraging. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Daniel and remain indebted to him. I would like to thank my committee for their support, advice and interest in the plight of children. Brian Rasmussen, Carolyn Szostak, and Robert Whitely completed the task of reviewing the dissertation in a manner that was helpful and informative. I would like to thank a number of professors at UBC Vancouver including Phyllis Johnson who helped me get started over the first two years into the degree as well as Jim White. Both of these professors were encouraging, and concerned about my welfare as a student. Here at UBC Okanagan I received great support from Naomi McPherson and the group of graduate students that she mentors. The meetings that Naomi generously coordinated at her home were not only encouraging but a great source of information. I found it comforting to know that Naomi was available to assist should I need. I owe great thanks to my sisters, Sara and Linda, for listening to my toils over the past 5 years and the constant belief that I would make it in the end. As well, my parents, Joan and David in large part made this endeavour financially possible. It has been a long road, one which they have travelled with me to provide whatever was necessary to reach the end successfully. Finally, I wish to acknowledge my husband, Marc, without whom I could never have completed the dissertation. Not only was he a great support and editor, his passion for the topic was unerring. Our many discussions over the five years helped me to think through the topic in a way that I could not have done on my own. Marc‘s insight, understanding and questioning of authority have been invaluable.  xi  DEDICATION In 1998, my husband introduced me to Adbusters: Journal of the Mental Environment and from that point onward I was never the same. I began to look at the world differently, to see what it was that corporations were getting away with, especially as it related to children. Being a social worker I had always been wary that institutional power had the capacity to destroy the rights of ordinary citizens. It was not until I immersed myself in the articles from Adbusters that I realized the extent of the damage that had already taken place. It was clear that corporations and not governments were setting the agenda for cultural change, and in a direction that would enhance their profits at the expense of well-being. This thesis is then dedicated to two extraordinary individuals—my husband, Marc Brillinger and Kalle Lasn, the founder of Adbusters. Without either one of them I would have remained in the dark confused and uncertain about the power that corporations have usurped. It is doubtful that I would have even questioned the ways in which consumer culture is engulfing children—once I got it there was no turning back. This thesis was largely motivated by a desire to expose the harm that children are incurring daily as the machine of consumption relentlessly pushes on. Marc and Kalle gave me the courage to look that machine in the eye.  xii  INTRODUCTION [The] average kid only spends 30 minutes a day outside, an amount that shrinks yearly. In this brave new world of Facebook and YouTube, Twitter and Google, iPod and Wii, kids are tuned into technology, and kindergartners start school with 5,000 hours of TV under their belts. Typical tweens put in a 40-hour week – a virtual full-time job – watching screens: TV, laptop, cell phone, and so on. They can name dozens of corporate logos and celebrities on site...But they cannot name three animals that live in their neighborhood, or three plants. (Weilbacher 2010) The Presenting Problem Current consumer research on children1 strongly suggests that they are being harmed by corporations who view them as a lucrative market for their commodities and thus target them in every imaginable way to enhance profits (Kasser 2002). The mechanism by which corporations access youth is through all forms of media including television, computers, phones, DVDs, movies, magazines, and advertising of all kinds. Particularly in the 1990s, children from babyhood on were sought after by the purveyors of consumer culture at an unprecedented intensity. There is mounting evidence that consumerism is generally harmful to the psychological and physical health of children (Bakan 2011; Dittmar 2007; Kramer 2006; Linn 2004; Schor 2004). As well, decades of research on the negative impact of television and other forms of media raises concerns for children‘s overall well-being (Huesmann et al. 2003; Singer et al. 1998). Yet, we know little about the overall effects of this massive campaign as heard directly, in their own words, from those young people who have experienced these campaigns and its effects as children. It is important to uncover whether the individuals who are targeted by massive corporate-sponsored campaigns have gained insight into their predicament and perhaps even developed strategies to offset the negative effects of consumer culture. This thesis endeavours to explore the intricacies of the psycho-cultural and social underpinnings associated with consumerism and youth as well as speculate about the greater societal impact on human well-being.  1  ‗Children‘ is used as an inclusive term for individuals between 0 - 17 with the following subgroups: Young children are 0 to 7; Tweens are 8 – 12; Youth are 12 – 18; Young people are individuals aged 18 - 19.  1  Background and Significance The data over the past 25 years have shown and continue to show, that enhancing consumerism in children, tweens and teens causes harm. (Kramer 2006:293) Consumer culture dominates many aspects of modern life in the industrialized world and in the past few decades it has rapidly penetrated the lives of children in an unparalleled manner (Kasser and Kanner 2004). The process of consuming has become increasingly significant in understanding how the lives of youth are culturally, psychologically and socially constructed. Their everyday life is dominated by the ubiquitous and ephemeral nature of consumerism to the degree that children in the West have never known differently. Wherever children go—whether it be at home, at a friend's, at school, at church, at the mall or on the school bus—consumer culture is touted as having the answers to every challenging problem, and is a tempting escape from so-called mundane everyday existence. It promises an endless array of stimulating activities and tempting goods to please whatever it is that one may desire. Additionally, marketers manufacture or generate desires that are not necessarily conceived of by the individual until they encounter such ‗stimuli.‘ The creation of manufactured wants systematically undermines childrens‘ sense of emotional security (Kasser 2002). Between 1990 and 1998, advertising to children increased by twentyfold (Schor 2005). It is not surprising then that young people‘s lives are enmeshed with a buy-and-consume modality and that they appear to be losing the capacity for authentic forms of spontaneity or creativity (Shellenbarger 2010). So much of children's play is scripted whether it is through toys, books, videos; as a result, children's imaginations are restricted and perhaps even underutilized. By the time they reach adolescence, children have experienced years of corporate structuring about how to think, act and even fantasize. Children now seek to define themselves through the acquisition of actual goods, particularly those that are branded (Morris 2001). Increasingly, they are exposed to violent and sexually explicit media, sexist programming that marginalizes young girls, and advertisements for junk food, tobacco and alcohol (Kilbourne 1999). In 2004, the American Psychological Association‘s (APA) Task Force on Advertising and Children strongly recommended an advertising ban for children under the age of eight based on years of research (Wilcox et. al 2004). Children between the ages of eight to twelve are only starting to become aware of the impact of media and its significance (Buckingham 2003). Yet, despite the APA‘s 2  credibility, corporations continue to remain unencumbered in their advertising pursuits of children. Millions of children now integrate consumer culture in their lives as a means of expressing individuality when in reality they strive to mimic those who have mastered the ‗art‘ of consumerism including celebrities, pop music stars, their parents, and even some of their peers. Indeed, it appears that rather than pursuing their own ambitions, they are locked into repeating and replicating those of their idols, conforming to the very norms they often protest about and claim to be free of (Niedzviecki 2004). The current decline in children‘s creativity (Shellenbarger 2010) and the tendency toward conformity may ultimately have profound implications for the survival of forms of democratic processes (Marcuse 1964). And not least of all, youth seem to have developed a blind acceptance of the neoliberal ideology of ‗free-market‘ capitalism and the efficacy of consumer culture. Statement of the Problem Despite the pervasiveness of consumer culture in the lives of children, there is a large gap in the empirical research literature regarding children‘s perspectives concerning their past and current experiences and how they were and are being impacted by consumer culture. It is not known whether young people are aware of the specific forces that were imposed upon them as children to adopt popular consumer norms as a mode of being. It is plausible that having grown up in a consumer-oriented society from birth, that by the time they are 18- or 19-years old, young people are incapable of detecting and analyzing the effects of consumerism on either themselves or their peers. It is also possible that young people are aware to some degree that their lives have been influenced by consumer culture in profound ways and can share insight as to the personal ways (psychologically, culturally and sociologically) in which they were and are affected. Understanding how young people experience consumer culture is fundamental to appreciating what it means to be growing up in modernity. A young person‘s perceived affinity with and strategic targeting by marketers make them a particularly fruitful lens through which to examine the nexus of consumption, conformity/resistance and individualization. The present study, by soliciting information from young people directly, was a step towards hearing about and understanding their perceptions, ideas, impressions and possible concerns regarding their childhood as it relates to consumer culture. 3  Purpose of the Study The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine how young people who are 18 or 19 years-old experienced consumer culture as children, and in their present lives. Such insight would contribute to a more complete picture as to how consumer culture impacts children developmentally and the degree to which children are aware of its influence. As noted above, children born in the 1990s were a highly targeted group with respect to consumerism and from the moment they were born they received an inundation of media messages encouraging full immersion in consumer culture. While many of the effects of this massive campaign are evident in data concerning physical and psychological health of children, there is a paucity of research in which young people are the subjects in speaking about their childhoods. Rationale A number of researchers have pointed to the fact that consumer culture is engulfing the lives of children with few if any positive benefits. Specifically, seminal work by Juliet Schor in 2004 identified several negative effects that consumer culture imposes on children between the ages of eight and twelve. She studied approximately 300 children and their families in the area of media use, consumer values, involvement in consumer culture, physical and psychological well-being and parental relationships. Her results indicated that there may be a causal relationship between high consumer involvement and depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and psychosomatic complaints. Put simply, the more a child is immersed in consumer culture the greater the possibility of specific and predictable forms of harm. In another study, Buijzen and Valkenburg (2003) used Schor‘s survey instrument with additional materialism items and found that children who frequently watch television advertisements held stronger materialistic values than peers who watched less often. Overall, they found a direct relationship between advertising exposure and materialism, an indirect relationship between advertising exposure and parentchild conflict, and an indirect relationship between advertising exposure and unhappiness. As well, Kasser and Ryan (1993; 1996; 2001) have conducted numerous studies that link consumer culture involvement with the harmful effects of over-valuing materialism. The information garnered from my study has the potential to raise societal awareness and lead to the rethinking of the cocoon of consumerism that children currently function within and its long-term effects. The study may also provide some insight into the nature, importance 4  and urgency of understanding media-induced conformity. Ironically, the continuing high media involvement of children, an important aspect of consumer culture, has been largely ignored by many academic disciplines most notably, psychology (Kasser and Kanner 2004) and sociology (Cook 2008). Children are said to be merely keeping up with the times of modern life and under no real threat by consumer culture—a position David Buckingham (professor of education) asserts in After the Death of Childhood (2000). Children and adolescents, despite having access to sophisticated technology, are largely voiceless and possibly misunderstood when it comes to deconstructing the impact of consumer culture (Giroux 2011). This study, by engaging young people directly, offers an exploration of the effects of consumer culture at an intimate or psychologically deep level of understanding. Significance of the Study Though clearly important, conspicuously absent from the existing literature was a focus on understanding the intricacies of the psychological and social understanding of consumer culture on children that goes beyond an exploration of mere brand association as seen in the Elliot and Leonard (2004) and Frost (2005) studies. While Schor‘s 2004 study delved deeper by examining such psychological effects as anxiety and depression, the scope of the study did not extend beyond the identification of such mental states. Finally, the studies on materialism, while revealing important elements about the downside of accumulated wealth, cover only one facet of consumer culture—acquisition of material goods—and not such important aspects as conformity/resistance, for example. All of these studies help to establish the facts of the matter, but do not get below the surface, and dig deeply for the meaning and understanding of these facts for children. The significance of this study involves two aspects that, together, try to get beyond the facts and move towards a more complete understanding of the meaning of consumerism for children from the perspective of young people: first by documenting the experiences of children as consumers, and second, by analyzing that experience through the traditions of critical theory. The study also provides discussion on the ramifications of individual conformity and potential forms of resistance or lack thereof at the wider cultural level.  5  Research Aims The immediate aim of the study was to determine how young people experience consumer culture in both a broad sociological sense and also in terms of the psychological processes involved. The data collection was descriptive in its orientation; that is, it provided a description of how youth understand consumer culture and its meaning for them, both from their childhood experiences and their experiences as young people. The data also provided a description of what young people think are the benefits, or negatives, of consumer culture, for children, and how it impacts their lives. Despite the prevalence of consumerism in North America, there have been to date, few qualitative studies that document directly the experiences of young people in relation to consumerism and how they understand what it has meant to them as children. Qualitative research findings potentially contain information about the subtleties and complexities of human response to culture that are essential to the understanding of phenomenon like consumerism. The long-term research goal was to advance knowledge about what the deeper experience of growing up in a culture where one is valued primarily as a commodity and commodity consumer rather than as a person first; for this work to be done, it will clearly take an interdisciplinary perspective, one that includes psychology, sociology, critical studies, to name a few. For example, to this end, the data provided insight into the psychological processes of young people including that of self-esteem, as well as cultural forces that impact their point of view such as the values associated with capitalism. Overview of the Study The thesis is divided into six chapters. Chapter one covers the theoretical underpinnings of the study with particular focus on the theories of Theodor Adorno (1978; 1990; 2005) that dealt with culture and consumption. Among the first to speculate about the social effects that transpire when culture and its elements become nothing short of a commodity were the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School including Adorno, Horkheimer (1973) and Marcuse (1964). In Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) coined the term ‗culture industry‘ to capture how culture in the US was being mass-produced through the application of industrial techniques. Adorno (1990) in particular, was polemic about the repetitive and standardized characteristics of US culture in its attempts to gratify the illusion of individual cultural taste. The culture industry thesis that he developed offers a complex and sophisticated model with which 6  to critique how the commodification of culture influences our perceptions of and actions in the world. Marcuse, like Adorno, observed and wrote about the analogy between American-style democracy and totalitarian states in One-Dimensional Man (1964). He believed that those who controlled the economic and communication infrastructures essentially gained control of most of society. Marcuse viewed consumer culture as repressive because its primary task was to create false needs. The work of Stuart Ewen (1976) is also covered in chapter one, with focus on his book Captains of Consciousness. He provides a chronology of the development of consumer culture and deconstructs the harbinger of ‗branding‘—lifestyle as a commodity form. Indeed, Ewen believes that industry aspired to attain widespread social dependency on the commodity market to ensure corporations accrue profits. Benjamin Barber's thesis on the effects of consumer culture is also covered in chapter one. According to Barber (2007), the commodity form is no longer associated with the specific content of a product or service—it is the brand itself which is being marketed. He goes on to note that brands are now mistaken for identities. Sheldon Wolin (2008) picks up where Barber leaves off, stating that US democracy has become an "inverted totalitarian" state. Wolin attributes the erosion of democracy to the power of the corporation and its elitist group of shareholders. All six of the theorists reviewed in chapter one take issue with the fact that liberal democratic societies have relinquished power to corporations to such a degree that sovereignty of its citizenry has greatly diminished. They all assert that the modern-day corporation has undoubtedly become the most powerful of institutions and that consumer culture has facilitated this coup. And while adults presumably have the capacity to reject consumerism, children, especially young children, do not. With the theories presented in chapter one, we can begin to look at and understand the workings of consumer culture and why it may detract from individual enlightenment or autonomy. Chapter two provides details as to the history of consumerism with respect to children and a number of the current issues at stake. Today's children are inundated with a hyperconsumer culture that seems to be taking over all aspects of childhood. Between 2000 and 2010, a number of prominent scholars began to voice their concerns about the mounting negative 7  effects of consumer culture on children and adolescents. In particular, 2004 was a watershed year for it was at that point in time that economist Juliet Schor published Born to Buy and psychologist Susan Linn released Consuming Kids. Both of these books detailed serious concerns about how children's development was being compromised by consumer culture involvement. Two psychologists, Tim Kasser and Allen Kanner, also published in 2004 one of the first anthologies that detailed the psychological effects of consumer culture on children. In addition, it was in this same year that Joel Bakan, law professor, released his book The Corporation: the Pathological Pursuit of Power and Control. Bakan‘s findings confirmed that corporations were running roughshod over consumers, including children, with very little interference from government or special interest groups. Between 2000 and 2006, Helga Dittmar, a social psychologist, conducted a number of studies on the cost of consumerism for children and the downside of the so-called material ‗good‘ life. In 2003, two other important texts were published: Einstein Never Used Flashcards (Hirsh-Paesek, Michnick and Eyer 2003), written by three developmental psychologists, which highlighted the importance of creative play unfettered by mass-produced paraphernalia and Branded (Quart 2003), written by a journalist, which described how teenagers are targets for everything branded from clothing to plastic surgery. In 2008, The Lolita Effect by M. Gigi Durham (professor of Journalism and Mass Communication), exposed disturbing details about how young girls are being sexualized in US culture and how normalized this process has become. Chapter two summarizes the findings of numerous studies all pointing to the ways in which children are suffering under the auspices of ‗free choice‘ that so characterizes the zeitgeist of consumer culture. The main purpose of chapter three is to demonstrate the ways and means of enforcing conformity and to describe methods of persuasion that are commonly used by corporations through advertising. Several studies on conformity taken from psychology and sociology are reviewed to reveal how we can easily be led to think and behave in ways contrary to our own liking. Chapter three also reviews what it means to be creative, and what types of environments promote creative play to provide comparison and contrast to the face of conformity. Chapter four outlines the research methodology. This research study utilized qualitative interviewing methods by focusing on the experiences of young people who have faced the ubiquitous presence of consumer culture since birth. The purpose of the study was to describe the experience of being a child and young person in a consumer culture and then interpret the 8  meaning of those findings within a critical framework of the wider social, political-economic and cultural context. The purpose of the study was not to explore the ways and means of how consumer culture is harming children—this has in large part already been established (Acuff and Reiher 2005; Kasser & Kanner, 2004; Linn 2004; Quart 2003; Schor 2004; Thomas 2007). Rather, the aim of the study was to determine how young people have experienced consumer culture throughout their lives and what it is they perceived to have been its effects. Thus, the primary research question: ―How do young people understand and experience consumer culture over the course of their lifetime?‖ Chapter five summarizes the results of the study, those impressions and beliefs that the participants identified to be associated with the process of consumption and all other related experiences linked to consumer culture. The results section of the dissertation is organized around three themes that emerged through analysis: Inside the Culture Industry, Identity and Media. Chapter six, the discussion/conclusion section, presents an overview or interpretation of the study‘s results and how they relate back to the theory and literature review. The dissertation concludes with the position that corporations are largely shaping today‘s young people to be efficient consumers yet, somewhat deplete in key areas that contribute to long-term happiness (Kasser, Kanner and Ryan 2007). The developing brain has become the new territory for corporate infiltration, meaning that media has now penetrated to the core of our thought processes, moulding how we think, behave and view the world. It will be an enormous challenge for children to optimally develop in such environments.  9  CHAPTER ONE: THEORIES ON MASS CULTURE This chapter focuses largely on the writings of a group of left-wing intellectuals who would later become known as the Frankfurt School. Together, their work has been said to be the beginnings of what would later be called ―critical theory‖ by incorporating the analysis of the ideological and/or economic role of media in capitalist society. Interestingly, nearly all forms of contemporary critical theory are theories of consumption; that is how a commodity takes on value beyond its function (Williams 2006b). The reason for choosing the critical theories of Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse, just a few of the Frankfurt School scholars, is because of their keen interest in what they called mass culture and their ability to hypothesize about and provide analysis on the effects of consumerism on citizens of capitalist cultures. The Frankfurt School scholars were especially concerned that the homogenization or ―massification‖ of democratic society in the West was eliminating pluralistic difference altogether. The second half of the chapter reviews more current political theorists, Ewen, Barber and Wolin, who critique the effects of mass culture where the Frankfurt school left off (Ewen provides historical context from the 1920s on). They each examine the integrative role of mass consumer society, and the new values, political and societal structures that developed as a result of, or concomitantly with, the specific transformations that converged into consumer culture. All of the theorists discussed base their arguments on an analysis of social structure or the macro effects of culture on the individual and the related psychodynamic effects. The crux of each of the theoretical perspectives examined in this chapter is that citizens of capitalism are participants in the formation, as well as victims, of modern consumer culture. They are victims in the sense that consumerism is about commodified culture in which cultural goods are no longer produced for their intrinsic cultural value, but are advertised merely to accrue profit for corporations whose interest in culture is largely absent. Whether reviewing the critical theory of Adorno and Horkheimer, Ewen, Barber or Wolin, each of these theorists link mass culture with a form of mind control, meaning individuals are psychologically and socially influenced. Culture, propagated by media, becomes a form of rationalized and systematic control of labour and leisure that leaves the consumer a pawn, subservient to a system that keeps him well in check. The consumer becomes less able to resist the economic and social systems spun by mass culture, all the while being told they operate in a ‗free‘ society with limitless 10  choice. What appears to be a system capable of fulfilling wants and needs endlessly is in reality, servicing a small sector of society namely, the elite, who control the economic infrastructure, economic policy and media propaganda. Thus, the urging to consume, expounded by mass media, fulfills a corporatist agenda and, as such, the capitalist elite are directly tied to the creation of mass consciousness. Contemporary society is incapable of progressing (and is arguably regressing) beyond its present state as consumerism is reinforced relentlessly and reestablished wherever it appears threatened. Capitalism perpetuates itself through the creation of desires for which it only offers spurious gratification. Remarkably, Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse were all writing about the dangers of consumerism long before anyone took issue with the seemingly free cultures of democratic societies, those that appeared in sharp contrast with the totalitarianism of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Even if some of the historical and sociological details of their analyses were specific to their time, their diagnoses of the predicament of mass culture hold true to the present. Indeed, the economic organization of modern capitalist societies reveals itself to be an instrument of control and self-destruction. They recognized that under capitalism all production was driven by the seeking of profit for the sake of acquiring further capital, and that this system was inherently flawed and dangerous to its citizens. By 2007, when Barber wrote Consumed, it was clear that capitalism had gone asunder, spiralling out of control, and reducing society to a puerile form of self-indulgent citizens who were losing their civic or democratic liberties. Finally, Wolin (2008), with his recent publication Democracy Incorporated, characterizes how democratic participation in capitalist cultures is marginalised and managed by a corporate ideology that justifies the overtaking of all forms of governance. This theoretical analysis offers an in-depth look at each of these perspectives and shows how the arguments build on a time-driven trajectory of increasing control from the ―totalitarianism‖ that Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse describe, to Barber‘s depiction of ―totalism,‖ and finally to Wolin‘s warning about the spectre of ―inverted totalitarianism.‖ Additionally, Ewen‘s theory will be discussed for the purposes of gaining a historical perspective on how consumer culture came under the control of corporate America and the subsequent manipulation that occurred.  11  The Culture Industry Adorno argues that popular culture or mass culture is not only lacking in aesthetic taste, but more importantly, it demands a rigid conformity of style for people. The central theme of Horkheimer‘s and Adorno‘s essay, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1973), includes the image of consumers easily manipulated by mass culture. The characterization of society is one increasingly authoritarian and short on opposition: ―Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites are one in their enthusiastic obedience to the rhythm of the iron system‖ (129). Adorno (1990) repeatedly underscores a theme that would resonate deeply throughout his writings on mass culture, the role of the culture industry as an agent of social and intellectual control. By ―culture industry,‖ Adorno is referring to mass produced cultural artefacts (movies, popular music, literature, newspapers and most of the content of radio and television broadcasts) that are manufactured or contrived by those in power, politically and economically, for the purposes of accruing profit. The problem of the culture industry is twofold in that it perpetuates itself at an inferior intellectual quality, and secondly, bears no critical stance to society. There is no denying that the culture industry is a wholly synthetic concoction largely imposed upon from above; it is one of tight regimentation and control, sidestepping any breakdown or anarchy. Whether it is film, radio, popular novels or magazines, the same stock of character types, plot structures and narrowly conceived outcomes repeat themselves in a monotonous barrage that continuously reinforces the status quo. Even the most carefully constructed critique or argument is inevitably corrupted by virtue of its stereotypic form. This type of formation is potentially dangerous especially when dissenting views are shunned and considered deviant relative to a normatively acceptable view. Mediums of Mass Culture: The Delivery of Control Television Adorno (1990) argues that television has a totalitarian impact even when specific programs have an overtly democratic or critical message because of how these messages are communicated. Like Marshall McLuhan‘s (1964:7) famed phrase ―the medium is the message,‖ Adorno sees debates about content as missing the point entirely and only diverting attention about the form of the medium to an irrelevant concern about content. He states: ―The majority of television shows today aim at producing, or at least reproducing, the very smugness, 12  intellectual passivity and gullibility that seem to fit in with totalitarian creeds even if the explicit surface message of the shows may be anti-totalitarian‖ (142). It is the mechanism of delivery in the culture industry that fails to produce a mediated and consciously reflexive relationship between the viewer (subject) and that which is observed (object). The individual is eventually overpowered and unable to withstand the all-encompassing force of mass culture (of which television is one of its most powerful instruments). Adorno continues: ―The repetitiveness, the selfsameness, and the ubiquity of modern mass culture tend to make for automatized reactions and to weaken the forces of individual resistance‖ (138). As the sway of conformity chips away at any rebuttal, individuals find themselves in consolidation with, and even defending, the status quo. Life is no longer fully lived, but is deceptively programmed for the citizens of the culture industry, all the while receiving the message that individuality is valued. Television has proven to be an effective means of enforcing conformity through the tireless assail of overt and hidden messages justified as ―information‖ by those in control. The pseudo-realism projected from television infuses life with a false meaning, one which viewers can scarcely see through. Thus, the television show presents a distorted image of life itself, such that a ―widespread hostility toward effective self reflection‖ intensifies under the pretence that what is being viewed is an honest portrayal of conscious and unconscious patterns (Adorno 2005). ―On the surface [television] employs psychodynamic notions; in truth it preaches a conventional black-and-white psychology‖ (66). It is not that the television consumer is entirely duped, it is that the attraction towards believing what appears on the screen is so powerful that it cannot be resisted. Music Of popular music, Adorno (1978) laments the loss of diversity and argues that one of the roles of popular music is the prohibition of free speech. He further believes that popular music is comprised of an agglomeration of musical phrases that are no longer consciously mediated in the form of a coherent whole. Put simply, popular music lacks integrity in form, serving only to meet immediate sensual gratification. And, because mass culture is designed to produce an immediate impact, the details lose their specificity. For example, popular music exhibits a limited range of musical techniques that are forever rearranged. Consequently, a narrow repertoire is established in which the most successful forms are imitated in a circle of seeming 13  never-ending repetition. Popular music successfully hides its repetitive form beneath the pseudo-free style and lyrics that promote rebellious actions. Adorno alleges that the process whereby an individual is seduced into regressive listening and conditioned to be its consumer compensates that individual by absolving him or her of the necessity of performing genuine labour, and in thinking critically about what he or she is hearing. Moreover, according to Adorno, the intended meaning of serious music becomes apparent only after a considerable degree of listening skill has been acquired; listening to serious music should, therefore, be an educational experience. Popular music fails to convey meaning and thus, no listening skill is necessary due to its standardised format. The purpose of popular music is partly to ensure that its social reception is predictable so, it must follow guidelines calculated to produce a specific and uniformed response among listeners. The culture industry seeks to undermine critical thinking, a process eased by the power citizens inevitably acquiesce. The culture industry superficially, at least, performs the role of cultural reproduction yet, bears no critical stance. Ultimately, the individual relinquishes the capacity to think critically about his or her circumstance in relation to culture. In fact, the wishes and desires of individuals become so tightly controlled that their entire life-world becomes rationalised by the very system that controls them. For Adorno (1990), critical feelings are expressed or created by genuine art—engagement in art fosters reflexive capacities. He maintains as well, that the net result of musical fetishism and regressive listening is one of an alienation that is as radical as it is submissive. Furthermore, popular music has, ultimately, becomes a means of social control, a means of fragmentation, and stultification of the mass audience (26). Adorno is harsh in his criticism (though somewhat sympathetic) of the listener: It is contemporary listening which has regressed, arrested at an infantile stage... they [listening subjects] are not childlike... but they are childish; their primitivism is not that of the undeveloped but of the forcibly retarded... they are not merely turned away from more important music, but they are confirmed in their neurotic stupidity. (41) Perhaps the most profound irony of this ―condition‖ is that consumers are lured into believing there is social meaning where there is none and seek a sense of community where there is little. As if the art form of music had not been defiled enough since Adorno‘s time, we have witnessed the emergence of the music video. Even at its worst, music incites some individual imagination. This is made to seem inconsequential with the inception of the music video in 14  which the listener receives a constant onslaught of visual cues accompanying each sound bite dictating in a precise matter what to think about or imagine. The music video is a disguised form of advertisement for musical commodities and their composers. Rarely do the music video images act in an authentic relationship to what is being heard: ―[Music] in America today serves as an advertisement for commodities which one must acquire in order to be able to hear music‖(Adorno 1990:33). Movies The monopolization of the culture industry in the hands of a few corporations creates standardization and unification within the cultural sphere (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973). Indeed, the culture industry, ultimately, creates monolithic culture whose style is a compilation of multiple elements treated as a unity. It is the feature film that serves as the quintessential example of this false unity. Thus, the process of unification itself, in fact, has become ―the meaningful content of every film‖ (124). Horkheimer and Adorno maintain that the style of the culture industry is so thoroughly complete that it paradoxically represents the negation of style itself, since nothing remains outside style‘s purview: ―[In]the culture industry every element of the subject matter has its origin in the same apparatus as the jargon whose stamp it bears‖ (129). Whatever art form is said to infuse the movie industry is sold under false pretences. Movies, for example, have nothing to do with art. The truth that they are merely motivated by money is made into an ideology in order to justify the content they produce. Pseudo-Reality Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) maintain that the masses of the culture industry are deluded into believing that the world mediated through technology (movies, television, radio) is the same as the ‗real‘ world: [The] more intensely and flawlessly the movie producer‘s techniques duplicate empirical objects, the easier it is today for the illusion to prevail that the outside world is the straightforward continuation of that presented on the screen... Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies. (126) The illusion of total freedom is, in truth, but a mere image of total incarceration. Those who defend the products of the culture industry are quick to highlight its emancipation from the tyranny of ‗style,‘ of a dated modality. Yet, these claims, from Adorno‘s perspective, prove to be hollow: ―Having ceased to be anything but style, [the culture industry] reveals the latter‘s 15  secret: obedience to the social hierarchy‖ (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973:131). Further to this, the culture industry is central to the elimination of individuality because of its stereotyping of behaviour and expressions that renders genuine emotional display to mere empty gestures. The result is a kind of pseudo-individuality—thus what ―is individual is no more than the generality‘s power to stamp the accidental details so firmly that it is accepted as such‖ (154). Individualism becomes a commodity in the culture industry, something that is determined by society, though represented as naturally occurring. The loss of individualism is easy to achieve under the forces of advertising which leaves nothing for consciousness but to capitulate to the advertised message (Adorno 1978). Reification is best described as ―thingification‖ meaning that which is generalized into something said to be a force in its own right, a force that is imbued with natural powers, to which the individual must adhere. Reification is a primary concern of critical theory since its central aim is to free the individual from repressive cultural institutions (e.g. media, the market). The ill of reification, it follows, is the annihilation of rational thought replaced with irrational subservience. Advertising claims to be reality and is therefore, according to Adorno, a central force in the reification of culture: ―Advertising has absorbed surrealism and the champions of the movement have given their blessing to this commercialization of their own murderous attacks on culture in the name of hostility to the same‖ (Adorno 1990:59). In the same way that art is swallowed and reconfigured in the culture industry, so is ―information‖ transformed and eventually lost. Advertising thus becomes disguised in the form of information, when in reality there is no longer anything to choose from except that of the most touted brand (Adorno 1990). The lack of difference between mass culture and reality means that mass culture schematizes the world in terms of itself and can therefore, reflect nothing but itself: ―In a perverse circularity: [mass] culture which is so true to the facts absorbs the truth content and expends itself in the material but all it has left as material is itself‖ (Adorno 1990:56). This double identity— identical with reality but also identical with itself—eliminates the possibility of anything different or new. Under these conditions, mass culture becomes the breeding ground for ―synthetically produced modes of behavior‖ (78). Adorno believes that ―people give their approval to mass culture because they know or suspect that this is where they are taught the mores they will surely need as their passport in a monopolized life‖ (80). Mass culture becomes self-sustaining as a model for ensuring conformity because of powerful (innate) needs that 16  characterize most of us such as the need to belong, the need to be liked, the need to be seen as successful, et cetera. Adorno believes that the totality of mass culture culminates in the demand that no one be different. Thus, the ―monopoly shuts its doors on anyone who fails to learn from the cinema how to move and speak according to the schema which it has fabricated‖ (79). Conformity becomes the scaffold for the survival of the culture industry, constantly fuelled by newly invented schema that plague its citizens and their struggle to keep abreast of the latest fashion; failure to do so is akin to suicide. Today anyone who is incapable of talking in the prescribed to fashion, that is of effortlessly reproducing the formulas, conventions and judgments of mass culture as if they were his own, is threatened in his very existence suspected of being an idiot or an intellectual. (79) Mass culture commands such power as to render the thorough reification of human beings, negating spontaneous and genuine bursts of life. Economic categories in capitalism are so predominant that they lead to the belief that society and human behaviour stem from the categories of production, when, in fact, it is the other way around. Within capitalism individuals become outcomes of economic processes and appear to enter into economic activity as if it were their nature rather than giving birth to economic processes in the first place. Reification can therefore be conceived of as the historical marking in the process of commodity capitalism when the characteristics of ―thinghood‖ become the standard of objective reality (Morrison 1995:105). Adorno notes how reification destroys authentic human experience: ―When people dance to jazz, for example, they do not dance for sensuous pleasure or to obtain release. Rather they merely depict the gestures of human beings‖ (82). Commodification of Culture: Exchange-Value versus Use-Value Horkheimer and Adorno lay much of the blame of the standardized, pseudo-individual (or customized) products of mass culture on the process of commodification. While the extension of capitalist systems meant that art could be produced for art‘s sake rather than for fulfilling a religious or political agenda, for example, this new-found ―freedom‖ was short-lived. With the rise of the culture industry aesthetic freedom, initially provided by the commodity form, began to erode; cultural production is increasingly organized as a profit-making industry and is thus, subject to all the restrictions that conformity for production‘s sake demands. This  17  penetration of the commodity form into aesthetic culture is particularly damaging as true culture is believed to be born from the expression of free will and thought: Art of the masses has destroyed the dream...not only are hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types, but the specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change. The details are interchangeable. (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973:125) Commodification, in late capitalism, imposes the most precise, extensive and insidious control over cultural activity that has yet existed. The entirety of the culture industry is premised on the rational organization of cultural production. And, there can be no mistaking that the creation of such an industry is driven by profit-making through the sale of culture. Gone is the time of the production of genuine art, replaced by that which is devoid of integrity and marketed for quick sale. Since culture is made specifically for the purpose of being sold, the production of true art is, thereby, eradicated. Thus, it is the process of capital exchange through the circulation of goods that provides the frame between multitudes of different cultural products: This process integrates all the elements of the production from the novel (shaped with an eye to the film) to the last sound effect. It is the triumph of invested capital, whose title as absolute master is etched deep into the hearts of the dispossessed in the employment line; it is the meaningful content of every film, whatever plot the production team may have selected. (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973:124) Under such circumstances, art cannot flourish, and inevitably, succumbs to the forces of mass production leaving a wake of lifeless cultural landscapes devoid of any true meaning. One of the fundamental themes of Marxist theory is that of commodity fetishism. Essentially, this refers to the way in which exchange and a market environment disguises the labour that originally produced the commodity that gave it ‗value.‘ Instead, the commodity itself is assumed to inherently possess value that is, in fact, the result of and properly attributed to human activity. The social nature of the good is therefore lost as the human value is masked almost entirely. Thus, objects are said to take on a fetish character when they are assigned extraordinary value and power, and when we attribute greater value in the relations we have with such objects over and above what their use-value warrants (Marx 1992). The social relation formulated with goods has the potential to substitute for the social relations with others. The net result is a society shaped in large part by social relations to things. Eventually, the possession of commodities becomes the sole aim and object of social life such that individuals feel socially 18  connected and valuable only so long as their social relations are based on the possession of these commodities. Second, insofar as individuals confront each other as the possessors of objects and commodities, objects take on a false value (above and beyond ‗use‘ value) and can, in fact, become more valuable than human relationships. Third, modern consumerism is all about distancing ourselves from the fact that many of our possessions have been produced by the labour of repressed ‗Others‘ (Billig 1999). Commodity fetishism takes on particular significance for Horkheimer and Adorno. Their thesis proposes that the inherent nature of commodification and mass culture is one in which use-value is subsumed for exchange-value. Basically, individuals are only capable of evaluating aesthetic objects through assessment of their market value: ―The universal criterion of merit is the amount of ‗conspicuous production,‘ of blatant cash investment‖ (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973: 124). Citizens of the culture industry are conditioned to believe that the only real use-value of an object can be found in its exchange value. Famously, Horkheimer and Adorno write: ―[Cultural] entities typical of the culture industry are no longer also commodities, they are commodities through and through‖ (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973:86). Culture—the way it is perceived, produced and consumed— is now determined by the activities associated with capital. The aesthetic concerns of culture are now entirely subservient to the profit industry. Goods, services and people are no longer understood in terms of their intrinsic worth or merit, but rather based on their market value: ―Purposelessness for the purpose declared by the market‖ (158). Furthermore, the commodification and rationalization of labour results in relatively precise control over the minds and bodies of workers; human activity is subordinated to the demands of efficient production. In essence, work and leisure have become opposite sides of the same coin. The Mechanism of Conformity Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) contend that the culture industry does our thinking for us resulting in restrictive cognitive processes or patterns: ―[The culture] industry robs the individual of his function. Its prime service is to do his schematizing for him‖ (124). Television programs, popular music, films and even novels have been so extensively organized, sorted and classified that there is little left to interpret, question or challenge. The thrust to conform in mass culture is so powerful that it often overtakes the individuals‘ impetus or will to resist. 19  Horkheimer and Adorno describe the consequences of such a system where ―not to conform means to be rendered powerless, economically and therefore spiritually – to be ―‘selfemployed.‘‖ When the outsider is excluded from the concern, he can only too easily be accused of incompetence‖ (133). Ultimately, conformism and cultural reproduction feed each other in a circuitous pattern to the degree that there is a constant reproduction of the same thing. Eventually, the individual receives his cues from an environment so limited in scope as to render any form of creative dissonance impossible. No independent thinking is expected from the audience; rather, the product prescribes every reaction through its proscribed structure. The capacity for reflective praxis erodes altogether under the barrage of disparate sound bites and visual flashes of sensory data so characteristic of modern film and television: ―As far as possible developments must follow from the immediately preceding situation and never from the idea of the whole. For the attentive movie-goer any individual scene will give him the whole thing‖ (137). In short, both the products of the culture industry and the manner in which they are consumed militate against the fostering of critical thought. And the absence of such paves the way for a level of mass deception common to the consumer‘s world—that fulfillment is to be found in a buy-and-consume modality. Horkheimer and Adorno describe this phenomenon thus: The principle dictates that he should be shown all his needs as capable of fulfillment, but that those needs should be so pre-determined that he feels himself to be the eternal consumer, the object of the culture industry. Not only does it make him believe that the deception it practices is satisfaction, but it goes further and implies that whatever the state of affairs, he must put up with what is offered... Paradise offered by the culture industry is the same old drudgery. (142) The commodification of culture means that culture is experienced as monotony, and a series of trivial experiences. Adorno further suggests that increasingly, individuals are unable to recognize, understand and experience contradictions within the culture. The capacity to draw comparative analysis between two sets of sensory input is virtually stunted: ―Mass culture...identifies with the curse of pre-determination and joyfully fulfills it‖ (Adorno 1990:26). The culture industry promotes an identification with the mass-produced products that then negates the possibility to review them with any critical perspective. It holds therefore, that the citizens of capitalism, exhausted by the labour process and tempted by easy promises of the culture industry, tend to bypass reflective cognition and critical analysis in order to submerge themselves in the ‗pseudo-immediacy‘ of the moment. Ultimately, ‗pseudo-individuation‘ stems 20  from the belief that the culture industry is constantly providing one with new objects and experiences, when in fact it is re-hashing the same mould over and over. Mass culture thus cultivates a fictional sense of agency by coaxing the consumer to impose a (pre-determined) structure on its products. Most importantly, Adorno views the buying and selling of culture as the buying and selling of the practices of identification (false as it may be): ―The masses are not primary, but secondary, they are an object of calculation; an appendage of the machinery. The customer is not key, as the culture industry would have us believe, not its subject but its object‖ (Adorno 1990:85 italics added). The commodification of culture in modernity leads to the exclusion of many critical impulses that had previously been nurtured by aesthetic practice. Art had been one of the few sites of political resistance in which the status quo was challenged; with the private world virtually eliminated, colonized by the forces of mass culture, true art has little chance of survival. While art may have been the language of truth, a false language associated with mass culture has become the only one that most people can understand. Horkheimer and Adorno view the effects of commodification as more than just repressive or prohibitive. It takes on a far more sinister profile. The commodification process has the ability to strip individuals of their potency all the while indoctrinating them with the ideas and views generated by the culture industry. It is not that people have been stripped of their capacity to recognize the lies they are fed or to deny that capitalism favours business interests; it is the fact that while knowing all of this they still participate: The phrase, the world wants to be deceived, has become truer than had ever been intended. People are not only... falling for a swindle; if it guarantees them even the most fleeting gratification they desire a deception which is nonetheless transparent to them. They force their eyes shut and voice approval, in a kind of self-loathing. (Adorno 1990:89) Eventually, we come to believe, knowing that success and a comfortable survival demands selfdeception in an irrational world seeming to operate on its own terms. Indeed, self-deception becomes a necessity in a world of lies. Further, individuality transforms into a familiar persona of sameness that everyone scrambles to adopt, desperate to fit in: The sacrifice of individuality, which accommodates itself to the regularity of the successful, the doing of what everybody does, follows from the basic fact that in broad areas the same thing is offered to everybody by the standardized production of consumption goods. But the commercial necessity concealing 21  this identity leads to the manipulation of taste and the official culture‘s pretense of individualism, which necessarily increases in proportion to the liquidation of the individual. (Adorno 1978:280) The culture industry must keep us entertained, even laughing, as a means of smothering and defusing the latent rage from that part of the self that recognizes we are pawns. We find ourselves tolerating and even enjoying the fraudulent pleasures fed to us through selfdeprecating humour that undermines attempts at social and political revolt. Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) capture this phenomenon in their writings: ―[The culture industry] makes laughter the instrument of the fraud practiced on happiness...In the false society laughter is a disease which has attacked happiness and is drawing it into its worthless totality‖ (141). Ironically, we treat the artefacts of the culture industry with a kind of a half-conscious tolerance, even amused scepticism, including values that oppose the system itself. Given that the culture industry has a monopoly over the production and distribution of cultural objects, it is able to integrate and absorb any and all aesthetic dissidence. Conformity is thus guaranteed with the eradication of critical messages while at the same time using such messages as evidence of pluralistic tolerance. The presence of dissenting voices even helps, ironically, to sustain the myth that unmediated experiences are possible: The most intimate reactions of human beings have been so thoroughly reified that the idea of anything specific to themselves now persists only as an utterly abstract notion... The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them. (167, italics added). Culture Industry and Totalitarianism Adorno depicts the culture industry in terms that invite comparison to fascism: [The] voice of the monopoly will tell them as they wait in line precisely what is expected of them if they want to be clothed and fed... Anyone who fails openly to parade their freedom, their courtesy, their sense of security, who fails to observe and propagate the established guidelines, is forced to remain outside the pale. (Adorno 1990:78-79). What seems to disturb Adorno most is that the culture industry dehumanizes people and robs them of their freedom and chance for happiness. Furthermore, Horkheimer and Adorno assert that even the very language in which culture (and particularly advertising) is inscribed has become corrupted. In the culture industry language means only what it denotes, the connotation having been eradicated; what this means to Adorno is that the un-literal aspect of language, the 22  poetry of language if you will, that which expresses real human experience, is no longer accessible. By removing these meanings, the use of language is severely compromised, especially with respect to anti-establishment discourse: The blind and rapidly spreading repetition of words with special designations linked advertising with the totalitarian watchword. The layer of experience which created the words for their speakers has been removed...In this sense, words are trade-marks which are finally all the more firmly linked to the things they denote, [and] the less their linguistic sense is grasped. (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973:165-66) Just as no one really believes fascist propaganda, no one really believes advertising‘s claims and yet, in both cases, we are compelled by the force of the message, both implicitly and explicitly. Advertised culture, then, in its essence, constitutes a command for obedience to the social order. Power will remain in the same hands—not unlike those economic decisions made by those in charge of a totalitarian state. Advertising today is representative of a negative principle, the opposite of that which is put forth by marketers (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973). Even when the tendencies of cultural production operate in a ‗free‘ market, the individual has little choice but to succumb to the dictates of the culture industry. What was once an effort to achieve individuation, has been replaced by efforts to imitate the dominant modality. Adorno leaves little optimism for the future as he predicts a world in which virtually any possibility of rectification, let alone redemption, has been all but squelched. One-Dimensional Man and Totalitarianism The notion that so-called democratic societies could operate in a totalitarian manner is not unique to Adorno. Herbert Marcuse, in his well-known treatise, One-Dimensional Man (1964), contends that, in ‗advanced‘ technological societies, the development of consumer capitalism constitutes a profound threat to freedom and individuality. By technology, Marcuse means the forces of production including the control and containment of the economy, political structure and media: By virtue of the way it has organized its technological base, contemporary industrial society tends to be totalitarian. For ‗totalitarian‘ is not only a terroristic political coordination of society, but also any non-terroristic economic-technical coordination which operates through the manipulation of needs by vested interests. It thus precludes the emergence of an effective opposition against the whole. (Marcuse 1964:3) 23  The main thrust of One-Dimensional Man suggests that capitalist societies are ―totalitarian‖ because the capitalist mode of production and the ―vested interests,‖ or what Marx referred to as the ruling class, use technology to manipulate needs, indoctrinate, manage and administer society in accord with their own interests. It is in this sense that advanced capitalist societies are totalitarian, and entirely controlled by the hegemony of capital. Indeed, as capitalism and technology develop, society expects increasing adjustment to the economic and social apparatus and ultimately, submission to its administration. As a result, conformity is rampant throughout consumer-driven society. Like Adorno, Marcuse believes that under capitalism citizens lose their capacity for critical analysis; hence, a ‗one-dimensional society‘ and ‗one-dimensional‘ man. Marcuse‘s theory argues that those who possess the most capital control the activities of the state, including its media and social institutions. The motivation behind such control is to maximize economic gain and maintain social domination by eliminating opposition through the continuous integration of people within the capitalist ―machine:‖ ―The brute fact that the machine‘s physical (only physical?) power surpasses that of the individual, and of any particular group of individuals, makes the machine the most effective political instrument in any society‖ (Marcuse 1964:3). The crux of Marcuse‘s one-dimensionality, therefore, is that the instruments of culture, including mass persuasion, manipulation, consumerism and controlled gratification, function to lure individuals toward a capitalist lifestyle that is to embrace ―one-dimensionality.‖ By doing so, individuals lose their autonomy and freedom; they must relinquish the power to know what they need and want, to choose or deny, and be able to resist obstacles. Indeed, onedimensional man is incapable of knowing his true needs because they are not his own, they are instead administered, superimposed. Individuals under such conditions are not able to resist domination rather they identify with the popular culture, imitating and submitting to the powers that be. As such, one-dimensional thought and behaviour begin to take form, develop and eventually become habitual. The cognitive cost of such conditions involves loss of the ability to imagine a different way of being, to transcend one-dimensional thought and society, to control one‘s own destiny—to become a subject rather than an object of domination. One of the more serious consequences of surrendering one‘s subjectivity is the proneness to conform to the cultural whims of any given time. 24  Within Marcuse‘s analysis is an outline of how mass consumption produces ―the false needs‖ that serve the purpose of integrating individuals into consumer society; he is explicit about how non-coercive social control powerfully ‗persuades‘ the individual to conform, submit and adopt the norms of sameness: False [needs] are those which are superimposed upon the individual by particular social interests in his repression...The result then is euphoria in unhappiness. Most of the prevailing needs to relax, to have fun, to behave and consume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate what others love and hate, belong to this category of false needs. (Marcuse 1964:4-5) It would appear that capitalism‘s freedom and democracy are based on manipulation, and a new form of social control found within mass culture and its source of propaganda— advertising: ―The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. And as these beneficial products become available to more individuals...the indoctrination they carry...becomes a way of life...[that] militates against qualitative changes‖ (11-12). Paradoxically, societies built on slogans of freedom, steeped in the proclamations of the advantages of consumer capitalism (such as the access to goods and services), rely on constraints or restrictions as a condition of success. It is only when the individual is relieved of the burden of ‗false‘ needs, and the ongoing manipulation to market such needs, that freedom is attainable. As with Adorno, Marcuse recognizes that failure to conform to the status quo is dangerous to one‘s survival. Thus, ―the intellectual and emotional refusal ‗to go along‘ appears neurotic and impotent‖ (Marcuse 1964:9). Individuals become incapable of grasping or identifying the true nature of their interests and attribute false motives to the causes of their suffering. Consumer needs for money, possessions, property and security are binding to the extent that they perpetuate conformity and alienated labour. For Marcuse, the ―benefits‖ of consumer culture are repressive and the needs created are false because such culture binds individuals to a way of life that actually restricts their freedom and possibilities for happiness. It is a way of life that impedes development of a more rational social order. The social order perpetuated by capitalism is false because its infrastructure rests on exploitation, in that it forces unnecessary labour and consumption on its population. Paradoxically, the representation of liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination. The freedom to choose goods 25  and services does not signify freedom if the system in which they are delivered sustains social control (Marcuse 1964). Throughout One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse (1964) argues that freedom and individualism are being eroded in late capitalist societies and, at the same time, dissenting views are ―quickly digested by the status quo‖ to inoculate against any possibility of reform (14). Marcuse, like Adorno, identifies mass culture as an agent of ―manipulation and indoctrination‖ to the extent that consumable goods have been reified to a point of utter alienation from the self: ―People recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment...Control is anchored in the new needs which it has produced‖ (9). It is thus the consumer‘s endless quest for products that keep him or her vulnerable to the dictums of mass culture. In Marcuse‘s view, advertising agencies or corporations contribute to the pseudo-individualism that is prefabricated and synthesized within capitalist cultures. The system is such that freedom has become a pseudo-freedom in which people fail to comprehend the extent of their bondage. Marcuse maintains that consumer culture has become a mode of domination through the hegemony of the corporations whose structures keeps it intact. Mass culture bombards its citizens with ideologies, images, advertisements and values that reproduce and legitimate the way of life that capitalism offers. Mass culture, in this view, promotes conformist behaviour and conventional values, thus taking on the role of an instrument of socialization. Finally, Marcuse makes claim to capitalist society as reconfiguring into a totalitarian state by virtue of the fact that capitalism permeates every aspect of culture and easily operates through the manipulation of needs by vested interests (corporations). In essence, the ruling elite is able to control which items ordinary citizens demand and the type of lifestyle needed to maintain consumptive behaviour patterns. The Inception of Mass Culture Ewen (1976) traces the origins of mass culture to the 1920s when industry engaged in a process of socialization that aimed at stabilizing and inculcating fidelity among those whose labour was being solicited. By the 1920s, many industries outside of the automobile industry had begun to employ mass production as part of their manufacturing. With a burgeoning productive capacity, industry had access to potential consumers from middle to upper classes. 26  The impetus of industry was to lure the masses into a modality of more buying power. Marketers strove to establish an ideological bridge across traditional social gaps—region, class, culture, religion—which would work in their favour. At the same time, the movement toward mass production severely changed the character of labour in that the worker had become a decreasingly significant unit of production. Marketers sought to soften the blow by speaking of ―economic freedom‖ and ―industrial democracy‖ as the reward promised for the labourers‘ participation (Ewen 1976:26). Shorter hours and higher wages were deliberate strategies used to habituate the American population to the exigencies of mass production, as was more leisure time. Increasingly, new priorities demanded that the worker spend his wages and leisure time bolstering the consumer market. Ewen maintains that entry into and participation with the consumer market was presented as a ―civilizing‖ experience. And yet, the discrepancy between wages earned and that of industrial growth was significant, so much so, that marketers realized they needed to habituate people ―psychically‖ to accept consumerism as an equitable way of life (30). Advertising‘s main role was to efficiently create a consumer body so as to feed the needs of mass industrial capitalism. Thus began the long-term relationship between industry and psychology; ―experts,‖ particularly psychologists rooted in the school of behaviourism, were hired to research how people responded to varying stimuli. Advertising was seen as a way of homogenously controlling the consumption of a product. Ewen (1976) is clear that early on marketers realized that mechanical quality was no longer sufficient to induce sales at the necessary rate and volume required by mass production and made deliberative efforts to create need where there was none: ―Advertisers were concerned with effecting a self-conscious change in the psychic economy, which was altogether different from trumpeting individual products... Advertising literature, following the advent of mass production methods increasingly...appeals to instinct‖ (35). One advertising strategy was to offer products that claimed to ameliorate social and personal frustration. Further, a new cultural logic was being projected by advertising, that of social responsibility and social self-preservation tied to the consumption of goods. Indeed, it was felt that capitalism, through an appeal to instincts (of which social insecurity was major), could ―habituate men and women to consumptive life‖ (37). Thus, the functional goal of advertising was the creation of desires and habits previously dormant so that personal needs would become dependent on the market. 27  One of the outcomes of advertising on a mass scale in the early twentieth century was the production of a homogeneous national persona; consumption took on a cultural tone in keeping with an ideological veil of nationalism and democratic lingo. Common desires, rather than common ethnicity, language or class, began to define the ―American type‖ (Ewen 1976:42). By transforming the notion of ―class‖ into ―mass,‖ business hoped to persuade individuals to seek the fulfillment of needs in the consumption of goods. Ironically, advertising offered up visions of individualism as a strategy for people to extricate themselves from the masses. Advertisements intimated that through the use of certain products one might become a success—―the capitalist notion of self-fulfillment‖ (Ewen 1976:46). As well, advertisements constantly hammered away at everything personal—bodily functions, self-esteem—suggesting products to be used as effective remedies for social maladaptation. The individual on his own terms was thus, pathologized. Ewen notes that: ―advertising offered the next best thing – a commodity self – to people who were unhappy or could be convinced that they were unhappy about their lives‖ (47). Consumerism developed throughout the 1920s in a way that suggests the mere selling of products was no longer an adequate goal. Rather, what appeared to be desired by industry was a broad-scaled strategy aimed at selling a way of life. Consumerism emerged not as a gradual progression from earlier patterns of consumption but rather as ―an aggressive device of corporate survival‖ (Ewen 1976:54). Marketers believed their job had an educative role concerning cognition and behaviour. Indeed, widespread within the literature of the 1920s and 1930s is a notion of educating people into acceptance of the products of mass-produced culture. Industrial development became far more than a production process but also a process of attenuating to impulses, those which provide the social underpinnings within capitalist systems. Ewen, like Adorno, notes how art transformed from a means of expression to a sales tool and weapon of manipulation. Put differently, creativity was sacrificed to the authority of commerce. In large part, the arts were conscripted as part of the broad cultural movement that characterized consumerism; namely, the eradication of indigenous cultural expression. Furthermore, where art was once regarded as a source of cultural ―truth,‖ markets co-opted the new ―art‖ of advertising as the only legitimate form of truth. For those who sought to educate the masses to the logic of consumerism, the elevation of the goods and values of mass production to the realm of ―truth‖ was a primary task. Attempts to turn modern marketplace 28  precepts into ―universal validity‖ were central to the stability and survival of modern industrial capitalism (Ewen 1976:69). In particular, the elevation of advertising was such that it laid out the terms of what was accepted and denied as reality. Perhaps of greater significance is what advertising excluded from its reified conception of the world. Under the guise of consumer protection, advertisers equated their message with ‗truth‘ as a means of dominating ordinary citizens. As Ewen explains: Within such a vision of the future, the notion of the truth was ―of interest‖ to the ―citizens of industry‖ who were not expected to recognize or to particularly care about what was of social importance for them. Only the ―great international broadcasting organization‖ was to determine what was important and what was not. (75) It was expected that the consumer would passively and even happily accept the rule of corporate judgment. According to Ewen, advertising‘s selective version of ―truth‖ was being formulated in order to bring about a widespread social dependency on the goods of mass production. Even as early as the 1920s, however, industry was aware that the hardships of factory life (which many experienced) undermined attempts to create a widespread acceptance of capitalism. Therefore, it became necessary to eradicate the productive process from ideology associated with industrial commodities. It was an essential principle of commercial propaganda that the reality of life within the factory be avoided at all costs. In order to sell the commodity culture, it became imperative to confront people with a vision in which the class dissatisfaction became invisible. Advertising played a vital role in this process: ―The basic impulse in advertising was one of control, of actively channelling social impulses toward a support of corporation capitalism and its productive and distributive priorities‖ (Ewen 1976:81). Whatever aspect of the ―good life‖ that could be achieved by the individual within the home and community was attacked and demeaned as corporate enterprise attempted to formulate and commoditize sensual gratification. Businessmen became diligent in their task to eradicate attitudes which were antithetical to a consumption ethos. Under the guidance of psychologists, as early as the 1920s industry called for the implementation of a ―mass psychology‖ by which public opinion might be controlled (Ewen 1976:83). As the industrial machinery produced standardized goods, so did the psychology of consumerism attempt to forge a mindset of consciousness en masse. 29  Consumerism also assumed a positive political character in the ideology of business by allegedly combating class politics. Thus, the political ideology of consumption depicted democracy as a natural expression of American capitalism, if not a by-product of the commodity system. The association of the consumption of goods with political freedom made such a configuration possible: ―Within all of the democratic pronouncements the essential political impulse was one of entrepreneurial domination, a structure in which political choice was limited to the prescriptions formulated by business and politicized in its advertising‖ (Ewen 1976:91). Consumerism was a process that not only sustained big business economically, but also politically. Through buying, individuals were democratically legitimizing the dominant role that marketers aspired to play in all levels of political life and otherwise. Ewen‘s theory maintains that American industrial barons, in essence, became the ―social directors of the nation‖ (92). Democratic rhetoric or not, the architects of the consumer market and the advertisers who publicized it hoped to instil an authoritarian obedience to the dictates of consumer life in the industrial age. One of the important strategies to achieve such an end was to encourage people to find a replacement for ―outdated‖ communities and the sustenance they afforded. Communities were depicted as antiquated social structures that bred mistrust. Ewen‘s analysis, shows that many of the advertisements of the time capitalized on fear to reinforce the notion that individuals were constantly being judged by others, and that there was an absence of positive bond between people. Industry hoped not merely to sell goods, but also to benefit from and conscript the basic emotional makeup of people. The corporation was made out to be a bastion of strength and safety under all circumstance. Thus: In drafting an affirmative conception of human characteristics, the business community was setting up itself [as] a model of emulation. Ads and public relations portrayed the corporation as a function of social intercourse which created positive bonds where all else had failed. The authority of industry was being drawn as a sustaining father figure while the traditional arenas of social intercourse and the possibility of collective action were pictured as decrepit, threatening, and basically incapable of providing any level of security. (102) The advancement of consumerism touched on the intimacies of social relations, as marketers developed a new definition of family, one which would jive with the goals of industry. Ewen claims that in the early days of industry, and what has marked its history since, has been the displacement of home production by social production; even social customs began to be separated out of the home and into the realm of ―planning and engineering‖ (Ewen 30  1976:102). The authority of industry worked to successfully encroach on the authority of the home whose productive capacity was being outmoded. The factory became the basis of social organization as the family faded to that of a relic of the past, solely needed for its wage earning capacity (almost entirely that of the father‘s). The family was rendered impotent, mediated and authorized by the industrial process. While the family still provided a semblance of social life, its erosion as the center of production dramatically altered cultural experiences. Men were still maintaining the ideological role of patriarch, but women were considered to be a ―violation of morality‖ when attempting to enter the world of industry (122). And, because it was from industry rather than the home that the means to family survival was secured and dictated, compliance with industry‘s values and norms was relatively easy to obtain. While individuals lamented the loosening bonds of family life, businessmen in the 1920s saw this phenomenon as an essential step in their rise to dominance. Industrial propaganda drove home the point that the economic well-being of women and children came from the organization of industry rather than the family. The cultivation of the successful household spoken in terms that revered family was, in fact, characterized by a shift of authority away from the family: ―Love, like democracy, had become implicated in a broad patriotic program which revolved around the mass distribution of commodities, focusing the human psyche on the issue of accumulating goods as a primary social bond and activity‖ (Ewen 1976:136). Each family member, despite the continuation of a family ethos, was bound to the burgeoning authority of business. The conditions of both production and consumption were simultaneously connected in a newly espoused ideology where the ―proper‖ roles of each family member required individual faith in the authority of business. And, with respect to children, their consumption of goods and services provided a conduit between the family and marketers. To businessmen, the fact that childhood was increasingly a period of consuming made children a powerful tool in the ideological framework of consumption. Advertisements began to convey a message that the needs of children were better understood by industry; such advertisements were a microcosm of the steps taken to shift authority from the family to industry and the psychologists they employed. The symbolic ascendancy of children meant the infiltration of daily life by corporations that sought to ensure a family structure ruled by the ideals and desires of children. Indeed, adults were instructed to look toward children for an 31  understanding of the new age of social behaviours and customs. Children were heralded as having the capacity to cope with modern life above and beyond that of their elders. Despite the firm roots of patriarchal dominance in families, Ewen believed that the male role was divested of all social authority except insofar as his wages underwrote family consumption. At the same time, women were elevated to a managerial status; it was understood early on that women would greatly influence family purchases. In order to appease the feminists‘ demand for equality and freedom, businessmen appropriated feminist values into the discourse of consumerism. Even when it came to mothering, marketers aimed to convince women that modern science, as a subsidy of corporations, should guide and define their roles. This campaign had enormous success; by 1929, more than 80 percent of the family‘s needs were satisfied by purchases by women. Advertisers were convinced that it would be through women that the values of mass production would best be conveyed. Women were repeatedly told that through consumption they could procure for their children the kind of life-long security and happiness that was associated with perpetual youth. As well, the discourse of ―free choice‖ was linked to the consumption of mass-produced goods affording women a ―new and liberated role‖ (171). Ewen is clear that every aspect of family life was seen as a business opportunity: For each aspect of the family collective – the source of decision-making, the locus of child rearing, the things which elicited affection in response – all of these now pointed outward toward the world of commodities for their direction. Corporate America has begun to define itself as the father of us all (172). Ewen maintains that the industry ―captains of consciousness‖ attempted to sell capitalism as the social fabric from which all meaningful relationships be constituted. By the early twentieth century, capitalism had entered a period in which all spheres of existence were informed by industry and the commodity had taken on a universal form. The culture of the marketplace actively worked to generate an image of positive regard to detract from the less appealing aspects of modernity including: the monotony of work, the decay of traditional social arenas, and the political repression that was encountered by those who resisted corporate politics. In fact, corporate ideology contended that a bolstered consumer society was more than capable of neutralizing political opposition to capitalism. Ewen details how the market surreptitiously infiltrated the very social fabric of America in the early stages of consumer culture: 32  Brand names had inserted themselves into the idiom of daily expression, prepackaged foodstuffs were increasingly the culinary fare of the population, the automobile – perhaps the archetypal commodity – was no longer merely an idiosyncratic mode of transport but an artifact of multidimensional significance within the culture. (202) Marketers succeeded in posing an idealized, consumerized and increasingly advertised vision of society made up of people who were basically inadequate and thus, dependent on industry for success. Ewen argues that this process was not a random evolution over time but rather, was calculated and deliberate. Ultimately, industry chose to depict human beings in a pejorative light for the purpose of generating and prolonging behaviours, attitudes and values conducive to consuming. Corporate Rule The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization of product. Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the center or the ―soul‖ of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. (Deleuze 1992:4) Ewen, Horkheimer and Adorno all theorize that the production, distribution and sale of goods for the masses are deliberate means of mind control on the part of the capitalist elite whose power culminates within the corporation. Further, culture propagated by media is a form of rationalized and systemic control of labour and leisure; the consumer is in essence a capitalist pawn, beholden to the system and relatively well controlled by a constant bombardment of ―entertainment.‖ And, if the masses are controlled by their labour and leisure, the companies that manufacture cultural artefacts inevitably retain control. Since Adorno‘s writings, mass culture has grown in terms of its potential to influence society to such a degree that the corporation has become the most powerful institution of our time (Bakan 2004). Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) observed, at the time of their writing, that those who control the culture industry wield enormous influence over civil society as well as political society. The culture industry is a means of keeping social order, which is then being reinforced by political, social and economic initiatives and more specifically, the cultural and social institutions under corporate domain. Regardless of the existence of democracy, and often because of democracy, dominance can still be maintained with consent of the cultural and social 33  groups. Capitalism can therefore be defined as part of the core structure of the social order that has gained ideological dominance. And, social dominance and cultural control is essentially, that which is propagated by the corporations of mass media. Horkheimer and Adorno state that: All are free to dance and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical neutralization of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects. But freedom to choose an ideology – since ideology always reflects economic coercion – everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same. (166) Consent in the form of compliance is given by citizens (consumers) who are themselves ―captivated by the myth of success‖ and believe in capitalist ideology such as the ―free‖ market, and the opportunity to be as financially free as the capitalist elite whose dominance eludes them (Horkheimer and Adorno 1973:133-34). Enlightenment has all but disappeared and is not possible within the confines of the culture industry where society is suppressed by, and subservient to, the ubiquitous financial machinery. Horkheimer and Adorno show that as the culture industry develops into a tool for mass domination, it is the commercialisation of all aspects of society that is at its core. Horkheimer and Adorno argue that this process is leading to the intellectual impoverishment of society, favouring commercialisation over individuality and authenticity. In their view, the culture industry projects a disguised form of ideological propaganda, employing ―pop culture‖ to mask oppression, all the while reducing cultural standards. The culture industry is capable of smothering all forms of individual expression that could pose a threat to the capitalist rule of order. Hence, creativity takes a back seat to the mechanisms that give rise to mass-scale conformity. The Infantilist Ethos and Totalism Benjamin Barber, a political theorist, offers a review of the nature of present-day consumer capitalism steeped in methods of manipulation of consumers, both children and adults, and the business of generating needs. Consumed (Barber 2007) discusses how capitalism has shifted from serving nations and their citizens to a consumerist capitalism, driven by an ―infantilist ethos‖ and fulfilling false needs. Barber believes that markets are consciously creating a youthful commercial constituency which is vulnerable to corporate manipulation via advertising, marketing and branding. In fact, corporations are selling consumer goods for which there is no discernible need other than the one induced by marketer‘s own frantic imperative to sell. This ―ethos‖ catalyzed a new form of identity politics in which the ownership of branded 34  goods came to define who we are, more so than race, religion, nationality, etc. Not only was adult consumer culture turning towards an infantilist modality, children themselves became the new market focus. The misuse of normative terms like ―autonomy,‖ ―empowerment,‖ and ―choice,‖ typical of an infantilist ethos, rationalizes selling to children. Barber is harsh in his criticism of ―corporate predators‖ who rationalize the application of an ―altruistic ethic‖ all the while applying self-serving and immoral means (33). As Barber sees it, we have moved from an era (1800s and preceding) when corporations were under the authority of government and in which capitalism served society and abided by its democratic principles to an era of capitalist narcissism wherein business mandates profligate spending on false needs. The infantilist ethos means the ‗dumbing down‘ of adults even as it accelerates the maturation of children into ―empowered‖ consumers. Barber believes that the infantilist ethos generates a set of habits, preferences, and attitudes that encourage and legitimate childishness. He characterizes infantilization by distilling it down to three archetypal dualisms: easy over hard; simple over complex; and fast over slow. While the tensions between easy and hard have challenged every culture, modernity is perhaps the first in which the adult institutions of a civilization lean on the side of easy; mass culture rewards easy and penalizes challenge. As Barber describes: ―Weight loss without exercise, marriage without commitment, painting or piano by numbers without practice or discipline... athletic success through steroids‖ (87). Lying, cheating and deception, though features of being human, have become more acceptable today, in part because they are seen as a justifiable form of taking the easy way. Barber maintains that adult civilizations have generally been defined by their capacity to embrace nuance and complexity in their thinking and behaviour. Consumer culture embraces the easy route because it is so profitable: ―Fast foods and moronic movies, revved-up spectator sports and dumbed-down video games, for example, [are] linked in a nexus of consumer merchandising that the infantilist ethos nourishes and promotes‖ (91). Teenagers, in particular, are an ideal market for a society steeped in an easy over hard modality; old and disciplined enough to spend, and sufficiently conditioned to consume music, movies or athletic commodities, but young enough to embody the puerile taste required to reinforce ‗easy over hard.‘ Remaining ignorant and youthful is easy—it requires nothing more than self-indulgence. 35  Speed has become the paramount modern form of youthful vanity: ―Time whipped, time mastered, time accelerated, time overcome‖ (Barber 2007:99). For example, video games are all about rapid neurological responses and instant reactions to stimuli. Such goods are intrinsically tied to the perpetuation of youth and represent one of the most successful sectors of merchandising to children and enticing adults to consume children‘s commodities. In a culture of fast over slow, one has to be a quick study to be counted as bright, reaching conclusions in the blink of an eye and cutting to the quick on multiple levels. Speed is seen as the promise of a thrilling experience. Not only do we like the sensations that speed provides, we like them even when experiencing them strictly through images. Indeed, the most consequential speed-up of our time is the onrush of images; it is on screen that life seems most to accelerate. As an example of the quintessential lifestyle devoted to speed, Barber (2007) cites the emblem of American-style consumerism for the rest of the world—fast food. The fast food franchise has cropped up in astounding numbers both in North America and globally to the extent that a counter movement (―slow food‖) became necessary to preserve indigenous culture‘s relationship to eating. Infantalization plays out across the board in consumer society, privileging digitized images and pictures over words for their speed, efficiency and simplicity. Barber believes that infantalism‘s preference for simple, easy and fast, gives it an affinity for solitaries rather than communities that deliberate together before they act together. Put simply, the infantalist ethos is fortified by an ideology of entitlement in which ―human beings are seen first of all as individuals—what political scientists might call rights-bearing legal persons— rather than as family members, lovers, kin-people, or citizens of the civic community‖ (108). Barber believes that for the first time in history, society has felt its economic survival requires a ―controlled regression,‖ hence, a culture that promotes puerility rather than maturation. The motivation to infantilize society is solely based on an ―instrumental need to sell unnecessary goods to people whose adult judgment and tastes are obstacles to such consumption‖ (112). The infantilist ethos has helped to create a culture conducive to laxity, shopping and spending. At odds with the democracy it once helped inaugurate, Barber (2007) sees how laissez-faire liberalism continues to mistake popular sovereignty for illegitimate coercion that insures the repression of the true liberty. Market philosophy is more than just a threat to democracy. It is, the source of capitalism‘s most troubling problems today namely, its incapacity to meet the needs of the poor. Indeed, capitalism is all about promoting faux needs all the while 36  ignoring real needs of citizens in developed and under-developed societies. Barber believes that the market basically dictates what it is we ‗need‘ and then proclaims to have the answers. Somehow, the average citizen accepts his or her circumstance, participating in the charade as though bereft of choices. The main artery of consumer culture is the process of privatization in which all aspects of human exchange and relationship are commoditized. Barber believes this represents more than just an economic ideology. Privatization acts in league with the ethos of infantilization to embrace and reinforce narcissism, personal preferences, and puerility. Additionally, it misconstrues liberty and thereby distorts how we understand civic freedom and citizenship, often ignoring, even undermining, the meaning of public goods and the public weal: Privatization turns the private, impulsive me lurking inside myself into an inadvertent enemy of the public, deliberative we that is also part of who I am. The private me screams ―I want!‖ The privatization perspective legitimizes this scream, allowing it to trump the quiet ―we need‖ that is the voice of the public me in which I participate and which is also an aspect of my interests as a human being. (Barber 2007:128) Consumer capitalism reinforces a cult of ―me‖ on the model of the narcissistic child and discourages ―we‖ thinking of the kind adult citizens recognize as wisdom. It is the combination of capitalism set asunder by an infantilist ethos made the more effective by its alliance with a privatization ideology that is corrosive to civil society. Infantilization acts to continuously induce the preference for the private and the trivial by treating the impetuous child as the ideal shopper, and the shopper as the ideal citizen. One of the outcomes then, is that individuals are motivated by a bifurcated sense of liberty, one in which they are internally divided and dissatisfied with both their private and public options (Barber 2007). Barber (2007) theorizes that the forces of capitalism play a vital role in forging identities conducive to buying and selling; ultimately, the commercialization of identity responds to and reflects the infantilist ethos in significant ways. For example, commercial identities tend to be simplistic, reinforcing the infantilist ethos, as well as undermining agency, community and democracy. Barber makes a strong case that identity formation is almost entirely built on an individual‘s commercial persona: Branded lifestyles are not merely superficial veneers on deeper identities but have to some degree become substitute identities – forms of acquired character that have the potential to go all the way down to the core. They displace 37  traditional ethnic and cultural traits and overwhelm the voluntary aspects of identity we choose for ourselves. (167) Brands are no longer associated with the specific content of the products and services they label; they are instead affiliated with styles, sentiments and emotions and at best, remotely linked to these products and services. And, it is in this process that they become compelling, new purveyors of infantilism. It is no longer in the products themselves, but in the names and brands they represent that the commercial value of consumer companies resides. The challenge of building brand loyalty is one of the key reasons why companies are so very eager to engage young consumers. For consumer identity, appearances are of maximum importance. Barber maintains that ―in a commercial society where identities are linked to cars that people ‗wear‘ and churches they ‗shop‘ for, it is little wonder that identity can be bought, borrowed or stolen‖ (194). Thus, branding and privatization turn out to work in tandem. As identity drifts from public influences rooted in religion and nationality toward commercial categories associated with brands, identity itself is privatized. For Barber, this means that identity politics are part and parcel of the infantilist ethos which mistakes brand for identity and consumption for character, all the while treating citizens as consumers of brand USA. Marketing becomes everything when identity itself is shaped to its needs and the whole of society is subordinated to consumer culture‘s marketing requirements. Barber (2007) exclaims that not only is consumer society privatized, commercialized, infantilized and branded, it is ―totalizing,‖ in that all aspects of being are devoted to consumption. Barber believes that Adorno and Horkheimer overstated the ills of mass culture by labelling it a totalitarian society. He does however, agree that consumer culture is both ―totalizing and homogenizing‖ under the influences of the infantilist ethos (214); he argues that consumer society robs liberty of its civic meaning (or democratic meaning) and threatens pluralism. Further, one of the consequences of ―totalism‖ is that consumers buy products and engage in services they do not necessarily need or want. The market consciously aims at producing a firm and encompassing grip on all aspects of life—a total immersion. Thus, the market controls: each and every of our waking moments and [infiltrates] the psyche‘s most remote and private geography. This is a necessary condition for capitalism success: an all-consuming people who shop or think about shopping, who conceive or exercise consumer wants, all the time. (220) 38  Barber (2007) describes five forms of market domination, the first being ubiquity. By this he means that the market is everywhere, so that any space not yet occupied by industry is viewed as a target for commercial occupation. Every open space, (e.g., on the bus, the clothes we wear, on buildings, on park benches) invites a brand logo or advertisement. Second, the market is omnipresent in that it wishes to be ever present, occupying time with the same intensity that it conquers space. Another indicator of the totalizing and homogenizing character of consumer culture is its addictiveness. In a hyper-consumer society, addiction has a cultural and economic dimension – it is an ideal means of securing market omnipresence. Addicts of consumer culture are often ―multi-addicted‖ say to alcohol or drugs as well as to shopping. Shopaholics are addicted to shopping and the media that integrally connects them to the fruits of their shopping such as television shopping networks and the internet. Fourth, the market has the capacity for self-replication as it operates with little public oversight or regulation. Selfreplication means market monopolization is rewarded as is that of conformity. Commodification is the venue by which consumer cultures reproduce, aiming to create monopolies of taste and behaviour. As Barber describes it, ―to commodify is thus to colonize, to impose singular meanings on multi-dimensional goods‖ (247). Consumer capitalism has an endless capacity for self-replication at the cost of alternative sectors and thus interferes with, even prevents pluralism. The last form of market domination can be labelled as omnilegitimacy. By this, Barber refers to the ways that commerce successfully places consuming at its core while shutting out rival spheres virtually unchallenged. Consumerism is constantly propounding its legitimacy, not just in economic terms, but at a gut level as well. Indeed, the goal of marketing is to impose an omnilegitimacy of positive feeling not only on the products and brands it peddles, but also on the entire process by which it runs. One of the outcomes of consumer capitalism gone ‗hyper-drive‘ is the disintegration of identity formation, the hollowing of individual sovereignty. Barber goes a step further than Marcuse, claiming that consumers are less one-dimensional than no-dimensional as their identities are literally manufactured, bought, worn and imbibed; the self transposes in the car, computer, Nike shoes or whatever other objects resonates with the desired image. The end effect is the eradication of unique character traits and the multiplication of consumer clones. Barber leaves us with only a margin of hope that totalism and homogeneity can be staved off. He concludes that in order to lessen the impact of the infantilist ethos, individuals must reclaim 39  their citizenry, resist the hold of marketing and branding on identity so as to mitigate the destructive impulses of consumers who are disconnected and self-serving. As long as consumers find themselves trapped in a cage of infantilization, reinforced by privatization and an identity based on branding, true democracy remains at peril. Inverted Totalitarinism The corporation‘s legal mandate is to pursue, relentlessly and without exception, its own self-interest, regardless of the often harmful consequences it might cost to others. (Bakan 2004:2) The whole sphere of the culture industry, which Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) suggest is controlled by the creators of popular ‗entertainment,‘ is also interwoven into the economic infrastructure, that which is at the heart of corporate dominance. Today‘s culture of capitalism includes a small number of elite corporations that wield control over political decisions, financial investments or ‗money industry,‘ as well as media in all forms. The corporation, as an institution, is virtually unchallenged, holding power over that of ordinary citizens. The ability to shape culture largely rests with those who take control of channels of communication. Countries like the US and Canada are beholden to the corporation for this reason. The Frankfurt School scholars, despite all their criticism of the culture industry could hardly imagine the degree to which culture has been generated in the hands of just a few corporations (Chomsky 2002). This section of the chapter focuses on the evolution of corporate-dominated democracy and its ensuing ramifications. Sheldon Wolin (2008), a political theorist, maintains that we are currently witnessing in the US (and to a similar degree in Canada) the most advanced form of corrupted democracy, what he labels as ―inverted totalitarianism.‖ Wolin‘s theory is important because it explains how powerful corporations have a stranglehold on citizens, even those living in a democracy. Wolin is quick to say that inverted totalitarianism is something entirely new, distinctly different from the twentieth century totalitarianism of a Stalin or Hitler; rather, it is a type of political system so entrenched in corporate politics as to be essentially under corporate rule. For Wolin, democracy in the US has been steadily eroding since the time of the New Deal following the Great Depression. The New Deal was conceived as a means of redressing inequalities within American society but when World War II broke out, it was superseded by governmental control of the entire economy. The war had a profound effect in halting the momentum of political and 40  social democracy and contributed to the increasingly open cohabitation between the corporation and the state. To a large extent, Wolin attributes the diminishment of democracy to the rising power of global corporate interests and select elitist groups particularly those associated with the presidency of George Bush II (2000 – 2008). Wolin uses the term inverted totalitarianism as primarily representing the political coup by corporate power with the simultaneous demobilization of citizenry. While classic totalitarianism uses available technologies to control, intimidate and manipulate in order to force societies into a preconceived totality, inverted totalitarianism is not found in ideology or overt expression such as public policy. Rather, inverted totalitarianism ―projects power inwards‖ and gains its dynamic by the conflation of the state with other forms of power (e.g. evangelical religions) particularly, private governance represented by the corporation (xxi). Wolin cites some of the symptoms of inverted totalitarianism as including pre-emptive wars (Iraq), widespread use of torture, domestic spying and widespread corruption in both government and corporate infrastructures. Tendencies in American culture now point in a direction away from self-government, the rule of law, and egalitarianism toward ―managed democracy.‖ Fiercely capitalistic, the US, and Canada under Harper, have both prided themselves on adhering to a decentralized power structure in which no single person or governmental agency could or should attempt to direct. The economy was said to be working best when left alone so that the ―free market‖ could operate unfettered. Yet, Wolin claims laissez-faire economics has produced and sanctioned trusts, monopolies, holding companies and cartels. As a result, economic ideology reinforced by business corporations and science and technology has overtaken, even replaced politics. Wolin summarizes this phenomenon: ―The emergence of the corporation marked the presence of private power on the scale and in numbers hitherto unknown, the concentration of private power unconnected to a citizen body‖ (xxi). Wolin (2008) argues that the current situation is comprised of unprecedented combinations of power distinguished by their ―totalizing tendencies‖ that challenge political, moral, intellectual and economic boundaries on a continual basis (xxiii). One such power base is the media conglomerate which has restricted the free circulation of ideas to that of ―managed circularity‖ (7). For example, the media representation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks served a didactic end of establishing the images of American vulnerability; September 11 was quickly consecrated as a type of national ―holy‖ day. Furthermore, in the aftermath of 9/11, the 41  American people were propelled into a world of mythology in which myth-making shaped decision-makers despite obvious ambiguities of facts. Such conditions lent themselves to abuses of executive and judicial power characteristic of inverted totalitarianism. Inverted totalitarianism relies on ―private‖ media rather than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the so-called official version of news. It is important to note that in inverted totalitarianism is not driven by personal rule but by ―abstract totalizing powers‖ seemingly difficult to hold accountable for their lack of direct actions (44). Inverted totalitarianism evolves and thrives by encouraging political disengagement of citizens rather than mass mobilization typically used in totalitarian states. In classic totalitarianism, the conquest of total power is a conscious aim of those heading a political movement. With inverted totalitarianism, the leader is the product of the system rather than its architect. In fact, inverted totalitarianism is largely independent of any particular leader and requires no specific authority to survive. It is best understood by examining how corporate heads hold sway over society and wield power within political and social systems. Wolin (2008) characterizes this process as follows: ―Inverted totalitarianism has emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation‘s political traditions. For our purposes an inversion occurs when seemingly unrelated, even disparate starting points converge and reinforce each other‖ (46). Inverted totalitarianism disclaims its real identity so as to normalize deviations from true democracy. An inversion that is present in a system, such as a democracy, engages in a number of significant actions ordinarily associated with its antithesis: for example, George Bush II sanctioned the use of torture or imprisoned individuals without due process, all the while instructing the nation about the sanctity of the rule of law. Totalitarianism involves attempts to realize an ideological, idealized conception of a society in which the social systems are envisioned and coordinated to support and further the purpose of the regime, a system controlled from the top down. Inverted totalitarianism continuously trumpets the cause of democracy on a global scale though in reality supports governments legitimated by bogus elections or even dictatorships. In the case of the US, its government claims to be the showcase, the ideal of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressive. Capitalism, the ―regime ideology‖ of the West, is virtually as unchallenged as the Nazi doctrine was in 1930s Germany. 42  Wolin (2008) believes that corporate power has exponentially increased, and while ostensibly non-political in its origins, corporations are now unbounded by constitutional limits or democratic processes. The recent US Supreme Court (2009) decision allowing corporations unlimited campaign contributions in any and all election processes (including presidential) is a prime example of how government is in collusion with corporate rule. Wolin‘s theory develops from the premise that democracy and totalitarianism are not mutually exclusive. He opines that it is possible for inverted totalitarianism to evolve from a putatively ―strong democracy‖ instead of a ―failed‖ one (54). In other words, inverted totalitarianism does not require the overthrow of an established legitimated system. On the contrary, it operates by defending the very system in which it thrives. Inverted totalitarianism learns how to exploit political and legal obstacles especially to facilitate certain favoured forms of corporate power while checking rival ones. This is possible in part because US law upholds the corporation as having all the legal rights of a person (Bakan 2004). Wolin notes: ―Our totalizing system has evolved its own methods and strategies...Its genius lies in wielding total power without appearing to, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements‖ (57). While the scope of government has receded, corporate power has increasingly assumed governmental responsibilities and services, many of which were deemed to be the special preserve of state power. To the extent that corporation and state are inextricably linked, ―privatization‖ becomes the norm and state action in defiance of corporate control a mere aberration. Wolin (2008) contends that privatization encompasses a major component of managed democracy by diminishing the political and its democratic content. Perhaps what characterizes inverted totalitarianism‘s greatest harm is the abdication of governmental responsibility for the well-being of its citizenry. Wolin continuously repeats that the ethos of the twenty-first century corporation is one of competition rather than cooperation, of aggrandizement and profitability at the expense of community: ―The [corporation] is both the principal supplier of political leadership and the main source of political corruption...―‘Shareholder democracy‘‖ belongs on the same list of oxymorons as ―‘Superpower democracy‘‖ (139-40). Inverted totalitarianism marks a political moment when corporate power is no longer a purely economic phenomenon within the confines of ―private enterprise.‖ As a copartner with the state, the corporation has become more of a political entity and the state more market oriented. Corporate power infiltrates government in the form of lobbyists and contributes 43  to the degradation of political dialogue through privately organized media. The $700 billion plus corporate bail-out in 2008, described by Congresswoman Kaptur as an economic coup d'état (Moore 2009), that Congress sanctioned and implemented, is a stark example of Wolin‘s theory in practice and how the welfare of ordinary citizens is disregarded when pitted against corporate interests. Theoretical Implications for Children Living in Consumer Cultures The corporate teaching that we can find happiness through conformity to corporate culture is a cruel trick, for it is corporate culture that stokes and feeds the great malaise and disconnect of the culture of illusion. (Hedges 2009:138) All six of the theorists examined take issue with late capitalism, in which culture and humanity itself is subordinate to economic imperatives, and democracy suffers. History appears to be moving in a regressive direction for each of these theorists in which escape from cultural influence and its concomitant, economic dominance, is increasingly remote. As a result, what were once citizens of the free world are now clones of mass culture; those who believe their ―individuality‖ has been preserved when in fact, their actions and attitudes confirm an entrenched level of compliance. True individuality is about establishing a position of moral autonomy and when appropriate, finding the courage not to cooperate, a process that holds little merit in mass-produced consumer cultures. The culture industry seeps into thought, emotion, language and behaviour and its products provide the normative framework of expression; it is the means with which we experience the social and material conditions of our lives. What of the receiver of such culture? We now have the technology and power to create a virtual world at the beck and call of the consumer. The result is a vehement defence of individuality paradoxically seen to be upheld by the mechanisms of mass culture and spurring citizens to guard popular cultural values against all other authorities, even government. Yet, it is widely admitted that the basic incentive of culture production is profit-making, not human betterment. And were there any doubt that acquisition of capital is a prime motive, a mere surface glimpse will reveal the gross misappropriation of wealth between ordinary citizen and industry. Somehow the mendacity is never exposed in a way that catapults a cultural revolution of magnitude necessary to evoke real change. Pockets of  44  dissent are isolated and rendered ineffective as generations of new believers, those raised in the swath of the culture industry, know of nothing else. In the case of adults, there is room to charge that the embrace of mass culture is a conscious choice. Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) were under no illusion that the masses are dupes or merely suffering from false consciousness. Their final conclusion in Dialect of Enlightenment purports that: "the triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them‖ (167, italics mine). Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the culture industry is that we feel compelled to partake without having critically examined the reasons why, as though operating out of some instinctual unconscious drive. Even so, Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) held out some hope for resistance and creativity for adults though this was not a well-developed piece of their theoretical treatises. Their central message remained that the ubiquity of consumerism, the power of media and the mass production of culture all helped to create a totalizing cultural ethos. Many have elaborated beyond Adorno‘s central theses 60 years after their publications including current academics who concur that hyper-consumerism continues to erode both culture and the political environment that supports its dominance (Hickel and Kahn 2012; Perez and Esposito 2012). In the case of children however, the argument of ‗knowing yet still persuaded‘ becomes increasingly more difficult to make. From infancy, children are being introduced to consumer culture and media such that a world without is unimaginable. Children's most elementary mode of expression—play—has become the target of marketing strategies, allowing corporations to "define the limits of children's imaginations" (Kline 1989:299). Children are so immersed in mass culture that they spent, on average, an astonishing 7 hours and 38 minutes in total time with media on any given day (this includes, television, music, computers, video games, movies) (Rideout, Foehr and Roberts 2010). When not engaged with media, the modern child is encouraged to play with mass-produced toys and games, all of which have been carefully scripted. As Kline (1989:315) chillingly notes: ―Imaginative play has shifted one degree closer to mere imitation and assimilation." Even for adults, there is little variety within the culture industry which unabashedly reproduces the forms that capitalism continues to generate, seeking to disguise their ever-sameness with trivial differences (Gunster 2004). 45  Media of all forms, the prominent distributor of the culture industry, is now the main, though largely unacknowledged, educator. For children, the omnipresence of television, computers, DVDs, etc. and the amount of time devoted to their viewing far surpass that of schooling. As marketing criteria begin to dominate all aspects of children's lives, they underwrite the most important modality of socialization namely, children's imaginations. We are preoccupied with safety from physical and psychological harm yet seem to have ignored the unfettered access that corporations have to our children. We must ask how it is that, as a culture, we have abdicated our responsibility to ensure children retain freedom of mind. We allow a battery of professionals from psychology, sociology and neuroscience, among others, to apply themselves to the child market as a means of ensuring the continued ‗successes‘ of the culture industry. The rights of children in this regard have been cast aside. Children now exhibit the same consumerist concerns and lifestyle preoccupations of their parents—they are old before their time.  46  CHAPTER TWO: CHILDREN‘S ‗CULTURE INDUSTRY‘: LITERATURE REVIEW Corporations have inculcated children‘s culture with the belief that consuming commodities is the predominant path to happiness and fulfillment. This literature review focuses on evidence from multiple sources that contradicts the corporate message that consumer culture is beneficial, if not harmless, with respect to a child‘s well-being. The chapter begins by examining the history of the children‘s culture industry, how marketers infiltrated children‘s media entertainment. Next, I review marketing strategies and their effects, how even young babies have become the new target market as well as the socially constructed ‗tween.‘ I also discuss the phenomenon of ―cool‖ and how corporations have co-opted cool as an effective market strategy to encourage consumptive habits that are damaging to children‘s health including: eating junk food, aggression, early sexualization, alcohol consumption and smoking. Empirical research on consumerism, materialism and children is offered as substantiating evidence that aspects of consumer culture are harmful to children. Following, is a section that reviews theories, and definitions of identity and how this relates to the branding phenomenon. Research specific to branding is then reviewed. Further discussion about consumer culture and gender issues, as it relates to identity, is also presented. Finally, I provide an evaluation of the ‗other side,‘ how consumer culture is constructed as valuable, or at minimum, less harmful than its critics maintain. Advertisers spend billions of dollars a year encouraging, persuading and manipulating children into a consumer lifestyle. Access to children is achieved through the media in which advertisers exploit insecurities, create extraneous wants, and foster unyielding desire, instant satisfaction and dissatisfaction in rapid succession to ensure a cycle of perpetual consumption. I argue throughout this chapter that consumption is now an intrinsic part of children‘s everyday lives and identity formation. In fact, the extent of children‘s immersion in consumer culture, at present, is unprecedented, regardless of culture and geographical location, though the extent of consumerism is particularly salient in the Western world. For example, while only six percent of the world‘s population, the US consumes 57 percent of the world‘s advertising; the average American will see or hear more than seven million advertisements in their lifetime (Pratkanis and Aronson 2001). Consumerism has become a powerful and evocative symbol of modern capitalism. Today, materialism and consumption have never been so prevalent, affording 47  opportunities of self-expression (Kearney 2006; Miles 2000), as well as cause for great concern in regards to children‘s health and well-being (Acuff and Reiher 2005; Kasser & Kanner, 2004; Linn 2004; Quart 2003; Schor 2004; Thomas 2007). After modest increases from 1960 to the mid-1980s commodity consumption per child in the 1990s seemed to know no bounds—by 2004 it was at $670 billion (money spent on or by children in the US) (Pugh 2009). In 2000, the teen market alone was worth $155 billion in direct expenditures (Schor 2005). Statistics from 2002 reveal that those under 13 spent over $40 billion, in comparison to $17 billion less than a decade previously (Williams 2006a). Consumption plays a major role in day-to-day living and leisure through the endless availability of media technology in the form of television, computers, digital accessories and a wide array of goods. Children living in consumer societies are exposed to an ever-growing number of products and services produced by corporate entities that include the largest of business conglomerates. Children comprise the largest consumer economy in the world (Aird 2004). Specifically, two to 14-year-olds have sway over $500 billion in household purchasing each year; in 2003, 33 million US teens each spent on average $103 a week (Calvert 2008). Shopping has become the number one past-time for most American children (Williams 2006a). Children, especially in the past two decades, have experienced a barrage of media encouraging purchasing behaviour and consumption much like adults who are already firmly established in this lifestyle. Children are more and more defined and evaluated by their spending capacity. A child‘s identity appears to be increasingly constituted through their status as a consumer. Living in a culture of consumption is to be exposed to enormous pressures to conform to the apparent beliefs and values of the culture. Part of the allure of consumer culture is due to the way commodities have evolved to be symbols of caring and affection (Williams 2006a). Indeed, parents have come to believe that money and gifts are symbolic expressions of their love for their children. As well, commodities are used to express who we are and who we want to be. As corporations search for new markets and maximum sales, they are crowding children in a sense, by leaving them little unmediated space within which to develop their own identities. Driven by a relentless effort to promote consumerism, regardless of the effect on the child, companies are guilty of what Enola Aird (2004:143) refers to as ―marketing authoritarianism.‖ Indeed, childhood has been co-opted by marketing conglomerates. In contemporary marketing, children are portrayed as ‗naturally‘ desiring beings with an 48  unmediated drive to consume that is said to arise from within (Kenway and Bullen 2010). Not surprisingly, children are behaving more and more like adult consumers. They are shopping in greater numbers, whether it is at the mall, or solo visits at stores. According to Juliet Schor (2005), economist and sociologist, by age 10 children are making an average of 5.2 shopping trips per week, matching statistics on adults. To a child growing up, immersion in a culture of images appears to be the most natural thing in the world. Indeed, children are taught to operate and accept consumerism as ordinary (Stearns, Sandlin and Burdick 2011). Expecting images and sounds to appear on command has become second nature to millions of children. American youth spend more time per week with media than they do with their parents, friends, or in school (Pugh 2009). In fact, children are surrounded by electronic media to the degree that they are more often engaged with technology than doing anything else except sleeping (Levin and Linn 2004). Today, media forces compete with adult caregivers in their ability to capture the attention of children and guide them accordingly. It is in this respect that childhood is precarious, pitted against the ubiquitous presence of media images and sound bites, all of which persuade children to conform to a mode of living that may not necessarily be in their best interests. At the heart of the struggle between childhood and consumerism, child identity formation is at stake; children are invited to believe that what they consume defines who they are. Consumerism reduces a child‘s potential to express and activate their capacities. Thus, the corporate producers of what Steinberg and Kincheloe (1997) refer to as ‗kinderculture,‘ the purveyors of consumer ideology, are constantly destabilizing children‘s identities. Even those children whose financial means restrict them from the market, suffer in terms of identity. They are cast as an ―underclass,‖ as individuals with no market value, ―failed consumers‖ (Bauman 2007). Academics have engaged in a love-hate debate with media as far as children are concerned. Media and mass communication technologies have been accused of interfering with and retarding children‘s physical and emotional development (Healy 1998). Media is said in large part to be responsible for a burgeoning crisis of childhood (Acuff and Reiher 2005; Postman 1985; Thomas 2007). Many of the technologies associated with mass culture including television, videodiscs, video games, computers and other digital display units, it has been argued, are bad for the brain and the body (AAP 2009a; AAP 2009b; Levin and Linn 2004; Primack et al. 2008; Sargent et al. 2001; Singer et al. 1998; Worth et al. 2008; Zurbriggen et al. 49  2007). Media culture and technology are also said to induce anomie and anti-social behaviours (Turkle 2010), as well as, be responsible for reinforcing divisive patterns like racism and sexism (Giroux2000). In general, many feel that children‘s innocence should be protected from unregulated advertising (Linn 2004; Molnar et al. 2010; Schor 2004; Thomas 2007). On the other hand, media technology has been praised for its advancement of children‘s education. Computers and other electronics are heralded for enhancing learning at an unprecedented pace (Healy). There are those who feel that children have the right and ability to make consumer choices, to exercise free agency (Buckingham 2000; Fiske 1987; McNeal 2007). The anticonsumer position is based on the conception that childhood is, universally, a critical time of development independent of cultural variances (Gopnik 2009; Leach 1994). This notion is in sharp contrast with a constructivist paradigm, argued for on the pro-consumer side which hypothesizes that the human core is superficial, and manipulable, such that there is no fixed state of childhood, that historical context is critical to its understanding (Buckingham 2011). Those who herald consumer culture‘s benefits believe that the consumer-child is representative of a ‗new‘ breed of childhood, and that childhood must be viewed as pliable, fluid and endlessly evolving (McNeal 2007). Both of these theoretical positions will be presented with a review of the associated literature to determine their merit and validity. According to Gitlin (2001), in the US television, VCR, and radio use does not vary significantly among white, black and Hispanic children, or between girls and boys; for television and radio, rates do not vary significantly according to the economic status of the community. Furthermore, poor families are not insulated by their poverty from the consequences of consumer marketing. Indeed, most research shows that low-income families spend proportionately more on their children than wealthier families (Pugh 2009). Moreover, there appears to be no direct correlation between parents‘ income and children‘s media possessions; what children own is constant until their parents‘ earnings are more than $500,000 per year (Kindlon 2001). It appears that the ubiquity of corporate operations and media has, to a large extent, infiltrated beyond differences of class, ethnicity and gender. It can be argued that many children are being deprived of a ‗full‘ childhood or series of experiences that distinctly differentiates them from that of the adult world and that meets their developmental needs as children. 50  One of the more significant outcomes of consumer culture with respect to children has been the steady ‗erosion‘ of childhood whether it is measured in terms of health trends, consumer behaviours or accessibility to adult culture. There are many academics (Jenks 2005; Kline 1995; Postman 1985; Steinberg and Kincheloe 1997; Winn 1983) who are concerned about the fact that childhood, at least as we know it in the West, is fading out altogether. Developmental psychology posits that children and adults are intellectually, physically, emotionally and psychologically different, and children are incapable of making the same sorts of judgments that adults do. Children are, arguably, distinct from adults and should therefore, be shielded from adult responsibilities and harmful influences (Leach 1994; Linn 2004). Yet, the medium of television, for example, regardless of content, is accessible to anyone. Kline (1993:74) presents a compelling argument that television is not only a significant socializing agent for children, but is also "the undisputed leader in the production of children's culture." The culture of childhood has an important play component that is impoverished and under nourished by pre-programmed play and passive time associated with television, computers and other electronic media (Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, and Eyer 2003). Furthermore, play has become professionalized and tainted with adult cues, imagination and expectations; it no longer solely belongs to the creative mind of a child (Kline 1995). Kline (1993) further argues that television advertising and programming has commercialized childhood to such an extent that the images sold through advertising now substitute for the symbols of childhood. Further to this, cultural critic Neil Postman (1994) opines that children‘s experience of culture is now one that treats them as though they are adults and can absorb adult information. Indeed, there is no aspect of adult life including perversity, promiscuity, dishonour or aggression that seems outside the realm of today‘s children (Acuff and Reiher 2005; Schor 2004). Television programming is, for the most part, not governed by theories on child development; rather, it is driven by profitseeking conglomerates with few governmental regulations. Children are embracing technology in unparalleled numbers, growing up in increasingly media-saturated environments. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 99 percent of families with children own televisions, 97 percent own video or DVD players, more than 80 percent own a video game and 86 percent own a computer (Vandewater and Lee 2009). The 1999 Kaiser Family Foundation study reported that children between the ages of two and 18 spend 5 hours and 29 minutes per day with media (Schor 2005). More recent statistics reveal a 51  marked increase to 7 hours and 38 minutes (Rideout, Foehr and Roberts 2010). The 2003 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that, in a typical day, 59 percent of children watch television, 42 percent watch a video or DVD, five percent use a computer and three percent play video games. Indeed, technologies of all forms have become the backdrop against which the lives of children and adults are set. Historical Growth of the Children’s Culture Industry The participants chosen for this study were young children in the 1990s. Consequently, this section of the dissertation will primarily focus on the time period leading up to and highlighting that of 1990 – 2000 so as to provide a backdrop against which to better understand the results of the study. To begin with, television was critically responsible for the rise in marketing to children. Experts promoted children‘s ability, even their right, to make their own decisions and choices— a boon to advertisers. Government officials went so far as to proclaim that television was a necessity for the maintenance of family harmony (Spigel 1998). Children‘s influence was instrumental in promoting television ownership in the home—the origin of ―nagging‖ power. The child audience was also critical in determining the type of television shows that were offered. Yet as Kline (1995) notes, television marketers did not initially latch onto the child audience. In fact, advertisers had little interest in sponsoring their programs. It was not until 1953, when Disney inaugurated the Disneyland show, that marketers realized the potential of television for merchandising to children. The show was infused with all kinds of advertisements for Disney products and was proof that children‘s commercial entertainment could be sold as fun for the entire family (Spigel 1998). Walt Disney was perceived to be an upholder of the traditional American family, valued for his creation of media that helped preserve a child‘s innocence (Griffen 1999). The enormous popularity of Disney‘s Davy Crockett led to the sale of several million Crocket hats within the first three months of the show‘s inception (Kline 1995). Disney‘s next success was the Mickey Mouse Club which resulted in sales of mouse guitars and ears, capturing the attention of corporations who began to realize the gold mine children‘s television represented. By the 1960s, Saturday morning and after-school timeslots were regarded as the ―children‘s ghetto‖ when smaller adult audience time meant lower than prime-time rates for advertisers. Advertising was soon to become the life force of children‘s television (Engelhardt 1987). The show Winky Dink and You, a cult classic of 52  the 1950s, was one of the first programs completely dependent upon the product it advertised. By purchasing a special Winky Dink kit, children could draw on the television set. The Winky Dink show/ kit became the harbinger of the shifting age limits of consumption in which parents would have diminishing control over the products children desired (Spigel 1998). Toy-Based Programming Guided by effective marketing methods, toy-making emerged as a big business. Toy sales increased 10 fold between 1955 and 1985. By the late 1980s, the toy industry directed its gaze to the production of toys tied to licensed characters, though this practise had long been in effect on a smaller scale (Kline 1995). Manufacturers had already capitalized on the popularity of children‘s media heroes and heroines by developing licensed characters toys such as Mickey Mouse watches and Shirley Temple dolls (Bruce 2008). As a result, the conception of play narrowed in scope to mean activities that revolved around the relationship between child and toy. Kline writes that (1995:148) writes: ―Mass-produced playthings, like compulsory schooling, reflected the universalizing expectations increasingly shaping children socialization and penetrating North American culture.‖ The licensing of character products allowed for new investment capital for production, product visibility and demand, and advertisement revenue (Pecora 1998). For the toy industry, licensing was a highly lucrative practice as licensed characters offered an easily identifiable toy or storyline, as well as, ―extra income‖ from royalties. As an example, in the mid-1970s the major animation house was grossing $40-50 million from its licensed products alone; in 1985, Mattel grossed $10 million as income from royalty fees (Pecora 1998). The toy industry welcomed the stability that licensing allowed for as it ensured that children would retain some degree of familiarity and possible affiliation with media characters, practically guaranteeing sales. As well, products based on licensed characters were more likely to stand the test of time. For example, the Smurf characters and program were introduced to children in 1981 and still runs on television in syndications with Smurf toys continuing to sell at Toys ―R‖ Us (Pecora 1998). The business of children‘s television was driven by the principal that advertisers needed an audience of active consumers and not mere viewers. The Walt Disney Company successfully employed licensing from the earliest days of its business. While not every program on the Disney Channel offered a line of products, each time 53  one of their star animations appeared, they fulfilled the role of an advertisement (Pecora 1998). Other studios, such as Hanna-Barbara also profited from licensing characters from a plethora of children‘s shows. The Flintstones alone produced over 100 licenses including a Pebbles doll, cereal and brand of vitamins (Kline 1995). The Star Wars trilogy that began in 1977 was the biggest boost to spin-off licensing the toy industry had seen (Kline 1995). By 1988, licensing had become a $54 billion annual business representative of 15.5 percent of the toy market. The Star Wars figurines of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader became the most coveted, and often acquired, boy toys of their time (Engelhardt 1987). George Lucas had in fact, financed the making of Star Wars through a licensing agreement with a toy company named Kenner. The licensing itself was deemed to be so profitable as to be able to front-end film production when necessary. Character licensing exploded as toy and media producers realized that they could meld media production and product merchandising as one streamlined process; toy, card and cereal companies all began to embrace licensing of the characters to which they made claim (Engelhardt 1987). Not long after the enormous success of Star Wars, the American Greetings Corporation came up with the idea of creating licensed characters that would appeal to the interests and fantasies of young girls. These characters would be put on greeting cards, as well as licensed out to various manufacturers. Eventually, they developed the Strawberry Shortcake line of characters in conjunction with the Kenner toy company. Strawberry Shortcake quickly became America‘s number one baby doll appearing on hundreds of products and selling an aggregate of more than $1 billion. Marketers had proven that a saleable image could be created out of virtually nothing. It quickly dawned on the toy industry, card companies, cereal companies and others marketers that if they created characters with the same appeal as Strawberry Shortcake immense revenue could be had. As Englehardt (1987:73) describes: The advertising and promotion budgets of all the producers add up to an advertising and promotion campaign of unheard of size and coordination in the world of child consumerism. The result: a child surrounded by an advertising image reflecting off every object that catches the eye. In 1981, under Ronald Reagan, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) employed a policy of deregulation. This meant television stations were allowed to air as many commercial minutes of their choosing, a ruling that, in effect, sanctioned the program-length commercial. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission 54  (FCC) no longer objected when licensed character tie-in programs aimed to promote new toy lines such as Strawberry Shortcake for girls and He-Man, later developed for boys. By the early 1990s, there was no television show without at least one associated license. The US toy market reflected the success of licensed characters as industry profits rose from $2 billion in the mid1970s to well over $12 billion by 1986 (Kline 1995). Character licensing was successful because the characters themselves operated like present-day brands, creating memorable and visually distinctive images in the minds of children. Supersytems and Licensing According to Marsha Kinder (1991) comprehensive character licensing has evolved beyond simple television programming into what she coins as sophisticated strategies of ―commercial supersystems.‖ A supersystem is a network construction around a character or group of characters from pop culture who are either fictional or real. In order to be a supersystem a network must cut across several modes of image productions; must appeal to diverse generations, classes and ethnic subcultures, who in turn are targeted with diverse strategies; must foster ―collectibility‖ through a proliferation of related products; and must undergo a sudden increase in commodification, the success of which reflexively becomes a ―media event‖ but dramatically accelerates the growth curve of the systems commercial success. (Kinder 1991:123) Examples of commercial supersystems abound in children‘s culture: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, the Muppets, Harry Potter or ―real‖ ones, like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the Beatles. The supersystem, in effect, fosters an endless collection of components from cereal boxes to movies. Three distinct genres of children‘s television programming developed as a result of the collectability of licensed characters including: muscled superheroes, mechanical transformers and nurturing caretakers. In all three cases, the more characters and accessories there were, the more toys that could be created, and the greater the potential market share. Action for Children‘s Television (ACT) was the first prominent activist group to focus on children‘s television and dispute the commercialization of shows that were in essence program-length commercials (Hendershot 1998). ACT lobbied the FCC in the late 1980s calling for the regulation of toy-based programming, claiming the shows were really ―commercial speech.‖ Neither Presidents Reagan nor Bush were prepared to rule against broadcast content despite ACT‘s demands that broadcasters serve children, and not advertisers. The result— 55  license programming successfully continued into the 1990s (Hendershot 1998). In fact, by 1980, close to 60 different product-tied animation programs had been aired during children‘s television time slots (Kline 1995). Further, approximately 50 percent of toys produced in 1997 were licensed products related to television and film (Kapur 1999). In addition to Saturday morning cartoons, three big children‘s networks had been established: Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and The Cartoon Network (Schor 2005). The Disney Channel, which began programming in 1984, has had a continuous stream of commercial messages geared towards their licensed characters. The Nickelodeon channel also directed its programming to children around the same time as Disney. While Nickelodeon did not own any characters to license, its imprint could be found on 400 items by the mid-1990s. While the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) were intent on ‗advertising-free‘ children‘s entertainment, all three increasingly adopted a commercial broadcasting orientation, turning to advertising for capital (Pecora 1998). As media multiplied into numerous technologies available to children and embodied the supersytem, the use of licensed characters moved from television into other forms of entertainment including: movies, albums, videocassettes, storybook, computer games and videogames. One such example is the Lion King released by Disney, in the late 1980s; the proliferation of associated merchandise from this film included books, comic books, coloring and activity books, CDs MTV videos, board games, home-video cassettes and video games. Pokeman is a more recent example of a supersytem that was enormously lucrative. Pecora (1998:152-153) remarks that, Children‘s entertainment has become defined by profitability...Small islands of creativity exist on public broadcasting and in places such as Nickelodeon, or with independent companies that find a niche in the video or music or book industry, but mostly the air is filled with Mickey Mouse or the character du jour. Marketing Strategies and their Effects The typical North American child is now immersed in the world of consumerism to a degree that dwarfs historical experience. In 1983, $100 million were spent in television advertising directed at children and by 2004, that figure had jumped to $15 billion (Calvert 2008). It used to be that mothers were the conduit for marketing to children; now, marketers have aligned themselves solely with children. Marketers feel justified to interact directly with children as sovereign beings, independent of family (Schor 2005). They no longer attempt to 56  assuage mothers that their products will improve their child‘s well-being. Rather, they send their messages directly to children themselves. The marketing industry does this by exploiting children‘s likes, dislikes, interests, and activities for the purposes of profit, commodifying their experiences. For example, Big Tobacco specifically targeted children by using animated cartoon figures to sell cigarettes. By championing children's "intelligence" and "sophistication" as a positive rationale, marketers are able to justify the onslaught of child-targeted advertisements. We now know that young children, including babies and toddlers, are highly susceptible to many forms of suggestion, including marketing (Borzekowski and Robinson 2001). The stakes are high, as children between two and 14 years-old now influence purchases of $700 billion annually in the US ($40 billion of their own, $340 billion influenced) (McNeal 2006). Marketing strategies have increasingly focused on the very young, that is, zero to three years of age; this group of children has now become the first segment in ―cradle-to-grave‖ marketing (Thomas 2007). These children are at the most impressionable stage of life and are particularly vulnerable to the marketers‘ influence. As media analyst Douglass Rushkoff (Aird 2004:145-146) comments: Today the most intensely targeted demographic is the baby—the future consumer...By seeding their products and images early, the marketers can do more than just develop brand recognition; they can literally cultivate a demographic‘s sensibilities as they are formed...This indicates a long-term coercive strategy. Babies and toddlers have come to represent potential adult consumers. Thomas (2007) estimates that a corporation can potentially reap $100,000 per child over the course of his or her lifetime by establishing brand loyalty at a young age. Younger children are more open and gullible to believing an advertising message is the truth. It should be noted that, traditionally, babies were considered off limits to advertisers because of ethical concerns. That seems to have all changed as ―cradle-to-grave‖ marketing represents more than $20 billion a year. Remarkably, by the time they are three, many children are able to ask for specific brands. Marketers have unleashed what Thomas refers to as the ―baby genius virus,‖ a zeitgeist that reinforces the belief that technology makes you smarter and better, despite an absence of research to substantiate these claims (i.e. the ―Mozart effect‖ in which advertisers claimed listening to Mozart‘s music would make babies and toddlers smarter though no empirical evidence supported this position). On the contrary, babies may be suffering from ―problem-solving deficit disorder‖ resulting from over-stimulation 57  by screen technology (12). As a result, they begin to experience a kind of sensory overload and may be incapable of focusing to their full capacity. Twenty-nine percent of babies younger than 12 months of age are watching screens daily; 23 percent have televisions in their bedroom (CCFC 2012). By 2000, babies and toddlers were watching preschool shows in record numbers of which Teletubbies was prominent, a program touted as appealing to this age group. And though parents did not always approve of television, they were more easily persuaded when the notion of education was introduced. Even mega-corporations like Wal-Mart are in the baby/toddler business, retailing large quantities of books complete with accessories. Disney has been sending out ―educational‖ kits to daycare centers and preschools as a means of claiming market share (Thomas 2007). In spite of this, research demonstrated that young children were not learning anything that the producers of Teletubbies intended; on the contrary, background television was found to diminish the length of children‘s episodes of play and capacity to stay focused during play (Thomas 2007). Constructing the Tween The social phenomenon of the ―tween‖ is one of the more striking examples of how consumerism shapes children‘s culture, values and identities. The tween category refers to children from eight to twelve years of age. The tween rapidly became a definable, knowable commercial persona and stage of youth starting in the 1990s (Cook and Kaiser 2004). Nowhere is age compression (children getting ―older‖ at younger ages) marketing more evident than in the eight to twelve age range (Quart 2003). These children, in particular, are being enticed and encouraged into adopting an identity older than their developmental age. It is worth noting that in North America, 25 million children in the eight to twelve age brackets form the most powerful consumer group since the baby boom and are spending billions annually (Leung 2009). In addition, the four to twelve years-old group annually influence $565 billion of their parents' purchases (Rice 2001). Thus, it comes as no surprise that marketers are clamouring for tween's attention. The somewhat conservative McDonald's Corporation launched its ―Big Kids Meal,‖ complete with its McWorld advertising campaign in an attempt to capture the tween market. Other examples of age compression include advertisements designed to attract children to cigarette smoking and drinking of alcohol. In 1998, two such advertisements, Joe Camel and 58  the Budweiser frogs, were the most popular children‘s commercials of the year (Schor 2005). As more countries (including Canada and the US) imposed bans on tobacco advertising, the industry found ways to promote their brands globally, especially with young people. Such ―indirect advertising‖ methods include sponsoring sporting events and teams; promoting rock concerts; placing their brand logos on t-shirts and other merchandise popular with children; and giving away free cigarettes and brand merchandise in areas where young people gather, such as rock concerts, discos and shopping malls (Hammond 2000). Advertisers have capitalized on the insecurities of pre-adolescence, a vast need to be ―cool,‖ and desires to break free from the confines of parents when catering to tweens. Marketers are hiring child psychologists and other experts to maximize their understanding of the segments and nuances of the tween market. Even though the term tween does not exclude boys, the tween idol phenomenon is more closely associated with girls; female youth are one of the most lucrative consumer niches (Kearney 2006). Television programming has catered to the tween, including such programs as Nickelodeon‘s Carly and Zoey 101, as well as the Disney Channel‘s Hannah Montana. Television executives showcase a ‗hip‘ star that embodies all of the qualities tweens aspire towards like independence from parents, and being popular at school. For example, marketers have created tween toy lines such as the Bratz doll, which exemplifies girl power and attitude. The tween persona has been characterized to feel empowered by separating themselves from adults and partaking in a world free of their rules. Indeed, marketing research reveals that children over the age of 11 no longer think of themselves as children, and neither do the Toy Manufacturers of America; their target demographic used to be zero to fourteen-years-old and is now zero to ten-years-old (MediaAwarenessNetwork 2010). By coining a term like ‗tween‘ and creating a persona to emulate tween characteristics, the industry helped to transform what it means to be a child. Gauging Children’s Health Trends on children‘s health, including their physical and psychological functioning, are important indicators of the effects of culture. Close examination of children‘s health in North America reveals much about the way media, including advertising and all forms of technology, impacts children in North American. This section of the dissertation focuses on key health problems that plague today‘s children including obesity, poor nutrition, diabetes, smoking, 59  drinking, emotional and behaviour problems, and suicide as a means of understanding the direct or indirect impact of consumer culture. In Canada by 2012, 31.5 percent of children were overweight or obese (CBC: 2012). In the US, obesity rates for children have nearly tripled as have those for teens since 1980 (CDC: 2010). Research demonstrates that overweight and obese girls are significantly more likely to grow breasts earlier because body fat can produce sex hormones (estrogen). Some girls are entering puberty as early as age seven and eight, earlier than they did even just a decade ago. Furthermore, early maturation in girls is associated with lower self-esteem and less favourable body image, as well as greater rates of eating problems, depression and suicide attempts (Biro et al. 2010). At the most concrete level, physical effects, including obesity and its concomitant, Type II diabetes, may be strongly tied to the high number of food advertisements viewed by children. Food advertising on television is dominated by breakfast cereals, confectionery, savoury snacks, and soft drinks, with fast-food restaurants taking up an increasing proportion of television advertising (Livingstone and Helsper 2006). Dietary patterns established in early childhood play a critical role in the prevention of childhood diseases such as obesity, and Type II diabetes both of which can persist into adulthood (Zuppa, Morton, and Mehta 2003). Furthermore, poor diet in childhood can lead to heart disease and cancer in adulthood; an estimated 65 percent of chronic diseases are diet-related and thus, preventable (Zuppa et al. 2003). Studies have shown significant associations between hours of television viewing and the prevalence of both high cholesterol and obesity in children (Zuppa et al. 2003). Children see one food commercial about every five minutes on Saturday morning television programs (Levin and Linn 2004). Borzekowski and Robinson (2001) found that a 30-second food commercial impacts children‘s brand choice as young as age two; repeated exposure has more impact (Levin and Linn 2004). Promotion of fast food containing relatively high proportions of fat, sugar and salt is rampant in food advertisements for children (Buijzen, Schuurman, and Bomhof 2008). For example, in 2002, McDonald's spent over $1.3 billion on advertising in the US, followed by Burger King's $650 million; PepsiCo spent more than $1.1 billion, only marginally outspending Coca-Cola (Endicott 2003). The food industry is estimated to spend $33 billion a year in advertising, and increasingly, those dollars are targeted at children (Nestle 2007). Research shows that foods heavily advertised on television are rated highly by children (Zuppa et al. 60  2003). In the US, the FTC has recently proposed new guidelines that may influence the food industry to moderate how it advertises to children. As an example, regulators have flagged Toucan Sam, the brightly coloured Froot Loops cereal character, as a questionable marketing tactic (Neuman 2011). Like the US, Canada relies on the food industry to self-regulate in the area of food marketing to children. In 2008, the Canadian Children‘s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI) was established. This initiative, comprised of 17 food and beverage manufacturers, pledged to allocate 50 percent of their advertisements directed at children towards ―healthier dietary choices‖ (Kent, Dubois and Wanless 2011). Kent et al. (2011) conducted an analysis to determine whether the CAI was, in fact, doing what it proposed. The results showed that the CAI food/beverage promotions were higher in fats, sugar, and sodium than non-CAI. Further, the CAI promotions were considered ‗less healthy‟ than those of nonCAI corporations (Kent et al. 2011). Despite encouraging children to eat foods that can lead to obesity, marketers also place great emphasis on looking physically attractive, a scenario which can contribute to eating disorders (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Remarkably, patterns of disordered eating are now occurring in preschool-aged children. Indeed, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Nicholls, Lynn, and Viner 2011) noted that eating disorders are occurring in about three in every 100,000 children in the UK and Ireland, some of whom are as young as fiveyears-old. By the time children are in the eighth grade, three percent of them are smokers and that number quadruples by the twelfth grade (Wallman 2008). Health Canada reported in 2010 that the number of youth who identify themselves as daily smokers is on the rise in certain age groups; furthermore, their survey showed that young smokers were more likely to use drugs than their non-smoking counterparts (Weeks 2010). Approximately 10% of 12-year-olds say they have used alcohol at least once. By age 13, that number doubles and by age 15, approximately 50 percent have had at least one drink (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2007). Forty percent of alcoholics were drinking excessively between the ages of 15 and 19 (Levine 2006). Rates of emotional and behaviour problems among children ages four to fifteen soared between 1979 and 1996 (Kelleher et al. 2000). For example, childhood and adolescent depression is prevalent, frequently recurrent and highly impairing; depressive disorders occur in 61  approximately two percent of primary school-aged children and between four to eight percent of adolescents (Olfson et al. 2003). The average age for the onset of depression is now 14.5 compared to 29.5 in 1960 (Ben-Shahar 2007). According to Jean Twenge (2006), a psychologist, who studies generational patterns, 21 percent of teens between the ages of 15 and 17 have already experienced major depression. To put it in perspective, only one to two percent of Americans born before 1915 experienced a major depressive episode during their lifetime. Twenge is clear about the fact that these changes are too large and verified by too many studies to be explained solely by reporting bias. The evidence bears out—the number of children on mood-altering drugs tripled between 1987 and 1996. ―Normal‖ children, those free of psychiatric disorders, reported higher levels of anxiety than child psychiatric patients in the 1950s. As Twenge concludes ―when you were born has more influence on your anxiety levels than family environment.‖ Teens who agreed with the statement ―Life is a strain for me much of the time,‖ quadrupled between the early 1950s and 1989 Almost 75 percent of teenagers polled in 2001 said they felt nervous or stressed at least some of the time, and half said they often felt this way. Finally, suicide rates for children 10 to 14 almost tripled between 1968 and 1985 (Goleman 1995) and have quadrupled for adolescents since 1950 (Levine 2006). In a 2003 survey, 16.9 percent of high school students admitted that they had seriously contemplated attempting suicide during the past year (Twenge 2006). Research suggests that the problems children struggle with in consumer cultures may have something to do with too much indulgence. Indeed, children of privilege or affluent cultures, like that of the US, are no better off emotionally and psychologically than their lessfinancially-advantaged counterparts (Levine 2006). In fact, America‘s newly identified at-risk group is preteens and teens from affluent, well-educated families. According to Levine (2006), a psychologist who has devoted her practice to privileged adolescents, many of whom are deeply troubled despite having significant material advantages—they lack spontaneity, creativity, enthusiasm and, oddly, the capacity for pleasure. Affluent adolescents seem to lack a fundamental sense of identity, instead having what psychologists call a ―false self‖ that correlates with a number of emotional problems, most notably depression. In spite of such evidence, marketers promote the belief that increased wealth is essential to happiness mainly because of the increased capacity to acquire commodities and all the ‗benefits‘ that ensue. 62  The Potency of Television and Advertising Indeed, if the basis of advertising is to make us feel good and it has surrendered any objective basis for this feeling, in what way is it different from religion? Why not also tea leaves, Ouija boards, black cats, dice, sounds that go bump in the night? Why not God? (Jhally 1989a:225) Television is one of the more prominent media through which advertisers communicate to children, and this is happening at younger and younger ages. A recent study cited that 40 percent of three-months-old babies are watching television (Zimmerman, Christakis, and Meltzoff 2007). The exposure of American children and adolescents to television continues to exceed the time they spend in the classroom: 15,000 hours versus 12,000 hours by the time they graduate from high school (Bar-on 2000). Almost three years will have been spent watching television by the time children are adults. This figure does not include time spent watching DVDs or playing video games. To put it further in perspective, based on surveys of the type of television children watch, the average child sees about 12,000 violent acts, 14,000 sexual references and innuendos, and 20,000 advertisements annually (Bar-on 2000, italics added). Levin and Linn (2004) place it at 40,000 advertisements annually. Not surprisingly, the American Pediatrics Association (APA) recommends that children under two watch no television (Certain and Kahn 2002). Research indicates that children as young as one-year are responsive to the positive and negative emotions exhibited on television programs (Mumme and Fernald 2003); this increases their vulnerability, especially considering their limited capacity to moderate emotions. Corporations, through advertising, aim to capture a child's attention so as to shape attitudes, motivation, behaviour and ultimately, identity. As an example, Public Broadcasting Service, a US cable network, partnered their children's programs with the fast food industry to sell children food that is not good for them as a promotional strategy (Linn 2004). Advertising, marketing and related activities are now the tasks of multi-billion dollar industries aiming to promote the sale of goods and services produced. Advertising and marketing drive much of the programming created by the media (Aird 2004). Twenty-five years ago, advertising to young children was largely discouraged because it was believed they were incapable of viewing it critically or with a discriminating eye. A comprehensive review of the literature over the past twenty-five years by Roedder-John (1999), however, reveals that by age five, most children are able to discriminate between advertising and programming. A deeper understanding of the persuasive intent of advertisements occurs by about age eight, and it is also 63  at this age that children begin to recognize advertisements are not always truthful. Children‘s conceptual understanding of brands or the more abstract features are not mastered until children reach approximately 12 years of age (Achenreiner and John 2003). Although children have been found to remember television advertisements, their intent is not fully comprehended, even by many 10-year-olds (Oates, Blades, and Gunter 2002). While advertising is not the entire story behind children's consumer expenditures, it plays a critical role in understanding their relationship with consumer culture. Advertising has become a tour de force that the majority of children cannot reckon with—notably, between 1990 and 1998, advertising to children increased twentyfold (Schor 2005). As previously discussed, the lines between commercials and program content are so regularly blurred that corporate advertisers get away with continuous promotion of their products and services. Marketers have used the ―educational‖ angle of advertising as a cover, by framing their sales pitch in terms of learning (Cook 2000). Evidence is growing that strong emotions, such as fear, induced by media viewing are sometimes severe and long-lasting. A survey of more than 2,000 elementary and middle-school children revealed that heavy television viewing was associated with self-reported symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress; watching more than six hours of TV a day put children at greater risk for scoring in the clinical range of trauma symptoms (Singer et al. 1998). Also, heavy exposure to television violence as a child predicted increased physical aggression in adulthood (Huesmann et al. 2003). On the other hand, viewing pro-social programming does in fact enhance children‘s pro-social behaviour such as altruism (Mares and Woodard 2005). It should be noted that while computer and interactive game use is being marketed for children as young as six months of age, the effects of such technology is an unknown. Still, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 61 percent of children under the age of two are exposed to screen media on a typical day (Kirkorian et al. 2008). A recent study found that children in middle childhood who exceeded the recommended two hours per day of screen time (television, computer, video games combined) were one and a half to two times more likely to have attention problems in the classroom (Swing et al. 2010). One of the indirect negative effects of advertising to children is the stimulation of wants leading to frequent demands on parents—what has been coined the ―nag factor‖ (Henry and Borzekowski 2011). Not only do children influence purchases that directly affect them such as groceries, clothing, and games, they also impact purchases of bigger items including cars, 64  holiday destinations, and electronics. Parents give their children‘s preferences serious consideration when making major purchases (Buijzen, Schuurman and Bomhof, 2008). A child‘s familiarity with commercial television, in particular, appears to be a reliable and significant predictor of nagging (Henry and Borzekowski 2011). Aggressive marketing strategies seek to maximize the chance that parents will relent to persistent nagging. This tactic is particularly concerning when applied to babies and toddlers who are only just beginning to form the critical capacity for self-control and regulation of emotion (Aird 2004). Furthermore, the nag factor phenomenon may result in the production of negative effects between parent and child (Henry and Borzekowski 2011). Usurping Play Play, the most important modality of childhood learning is thus colonized by marketing objectives making the imagination the organ of corporate desire. The consumption ethos has become the vortex of children‘s culture. (Kline 1989:311) Play comes naturally to children, as a means of self-expression, to gain a sense of control over their world (Weininger 1979). Children's play is not only about how they create their culture, but also about how they learn. Unfettered play is extremely important—it is one of the prime modalities in which children develop and form a sense of identity (Suransky 1982). When children are flooded with stimuli from television, computers or video games, they have fewer opportunities with which to initiate action or to influence the world they inhabit, and less chance to exercise creativity. The lure for sophisticated electronic technology has made it increasingly difficult to provide children with an environment that fosters creativity or original thinking through play (Olfman 2005). As children are assaulted by a stream of media messages, accompanied by a flood of accessories including toys, books, videos and clothing, the time and space available for their own ideas and images is compromised. Today, comprehensive marketing campaigns, or supersytems, are still in effect—the Harry Potter brand alone has been licensed to products in the 200 to 500 range (Sekeres 2009). The implicit message is that children's creativity is simply not adequate—they are seen to "need" toys to fully experience their environment and develop in an optimal way. Consequently, children learn at an early age that defining self-worth by what you own, and seeking happiness through the acquisition of material goods, are traits toward which to aspire. Such attitudes are antithetical to creativity 65  which is characterized by originality and the capacity for critical thinking. A child‘s sense of self is shaped in numerous ways through creative process or play and, if suppressed, identity formation suffers (Leach 1994). Children everywhere are now largely playing with the same mass-produced goods and as a result, are pressured to abide by the parameters set by mass-mediated discourse or narratives (Kline 1995). Stephen Kline interviewed children between the ages of six and eight to assess whether or not television hinders creative expression. He found that the majority of participants in his study either structured their play to match television characters and scripts, or incorporated elements from television programs into their fantasies. Kline encapsulates the play dilemma for the modern child: ―Although it is difficult to prove that kids are more isolated, consumer-conscious or less creative than they were, say, ten years ago, it is hard to deny evidence of an emergent pattern or ‗orthodoxy‘ of play being promoted through television‖ (327). Advertisements reinforce for children that engaging in play is much more exciting if you have the ‗right‘ toy and accessories, and use them in the ‗right‘ way. Children‘s books are a good example of how the commercialization of childhood has changed the nature of play. Today, only a handful of mega corporations control the publishing industry; however, between 1980 and 1990 virtually hundreds of independently owned publishing houses and bookstores controlled which books would be printed or sold. Consequently, there has been an overall increase in the number of books available each year, but a decrease in the number of unique books that were written without attachment to merchandise (Sekeres 2009). Children‘s books have succumbed to the branding phenomenon and are often physically in the same retail space as the other branded products. These products range from a line of goods that includes several series, graphic novels, television shows, clothing, dolls, blogs, stage adaptations, translations into multiple languages, family-themed travel, and websites. The underlying message is that children‘s play should be highly ritualized and prefabricated as seen fit by marketers. Corporate Control of Children’s Space In North America, few places remain for children that are devoid of corporate influence, even schools. Molnar et al. (2010) discovered that commercial activities are thriving in schools where marketers are able to attach their brand to programs and activities designed to enhance 66  learning. Corporations have also infiltrated schools using stealth marketing and engagement. For example, corporations ―assist‖ in fundraising for school programs and activities by donating their products (typically food). They also provide incentive programs whereby students are rewarded for good behaviour by receiving a ‗reward‘ through a corporate sponsor. On occasion, a percentage of corporate profits may be donated to schools with the understanding that such companies can then promote their product. Corporations also sponsor programs and activities such as one-off school events. Finally, corporations also engage in electronic marketing in which they provide electronic programming and equipment in exchange for advertising rights. Selling Cool The marketing and selling of ―cool‖ has become one of the major marketing campaigns directed at children over the past number of decades (Kilbourne 1999; Linn 2004; Schor 2004). Cool is now revered as a quality every product tries to be and every child needs to have. The selling of cool can lead to the exploitation of psychological vulnerabilities, most visible in the marketing of violence, sex, and drugs (particularly cigarettes and alcohol). Engaging in behaviours that responsible caregivers disapprove of, such as smoking and drinking, is a large part of what cool represents. Additionally, how one looks, in terms of clothing, weight and overall style of dress is tied in with cool. Brands now denote social status, like a caste system, convincing children that cool is the only way to succeed. If a child is not wearing Billibong, or another currently cool brand, then they face peer rejection, a sentence seemingly worse than death for many teens. Violence in the Media The scientific debate over whether media violence increases aggression and violence is essentially over. (Anderson et al. 2003:81) Children‘s culture is rife with violence in entertainment, often portrayed as socially acceptable and in some media, such as video games, is treated as ―fun‖ (Murray 2008). After deregulation in the 1980s, violent content became one of the most lucrative approaches used for marketing to children. The majority of toys and other products advertised were linked to violent television programs. According to Levin and Linn (2004), each successive violent program launched was significantly more violent. For example, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 1980s had an average of 50 violent acts per episode and by the 1990s Mighty Morphin Power 67  Rangers averaged 100 acts of violence per episode (Levin and Linn 2004). The Power Rangers movie, one that was highly violent, grossed over $1 billion. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP:145) issued a policy statement in 2009 in which they acknowledge the effects of media violence, imploring paediatricians and parents to take action: ―The evidence is now clear and convincing: media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression.‖ The AAP quantify the association between viewing media violence and aggression as nearly as strong as the correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer (AAP 2009a). According to the National Television Violence study (Coyne and Whitehead 2008), the highest proportion of violence in television is reported to be in children‘s shows. Indeed, 70 percent of children‘s television shows contain displays of physical aggression, a number significantly higher than those for adult programs (Ostrov, Gentile, and Crick 2006). Children‘s television programs average 30 violent acts per hour (Coyne and Whitehead 2008). By the time a child is 18 years of age, they will have viewed an estimated 200,000 acts of violence on television alone (AAP 2009a). Violence and children‘s programs/movies is often justified, rewarded, accompanied by humour and portrayed by attractive characters, all characteristics that have been shown to induce imitation by viewers (Coyne and Whitehead 2008). Murray (2008) mapped children‘s brain activation patterns while they watched violent video clips and found both violent and nonviolent viewing activated regions implicated in aspects of visual and auditory processing. However, areas of the brain activated only during violent programming included those involved in arousal and attention, detection of a threat, episodic memory and coding and retrieval, and motor programming. Moreover, brain imaging studies suggest that a child‘s brain does not distinguish between real acts of violence and viewing media violence, even if children are able to report the difference (Worth et al. 2008). Additionally, passive viewing of violence induces significant amounts of fear, visible in the brain, not all that different from witnessing the violent act live (Restak 2006). In general, exposure to media violence affects the viewer in the following ways: increased aggression and violent behaviour, including bullying; desensitization and increased acceptance of violence as an appropriate means of solving problems in achieving one‘s goals; increased fear, depression, nightmares and sleep disturbances; normalized use of weaponry (AAP 2009a). Within the context of media, violence is not treated seriously as a human 68  behaviour that causes suffering, loss and sadness for the victim and perpetrator. Rather, entertainment violence is promoted as a medium that elicits visceral ‗thrills‘ (AAP 2009a). Approximately 91 percent of movies on television contain violence according to the National Television Violence study (Worth et al. 2007). Children now have unprecedented access to adult media with the advent of DVDs, movie channels, pay-per-view channels, and even Web-based movie downloads. Furthermore, advertisements for adult films, including those that are extremely violent, are marketed on television during programming that is seen by children (Worth et al. 2008). Regardless, 90 percent of the top-rated PG-13 films have some content that is violent. An estimated 12 percent of 22 million 10 to 14-year-olds saw 40 of the most violent movies in 2003 (AAP 2009a). Many of children‘s favourite movies are produced by Disney and while these films almost always contain a ―moral message,‖ this does not protect them from the harmful effects of the violence they view (Coyne and Whitehead 2008). Furthermore, indirect aggression (gossiping, ignoring, dirty looks, social exclusion of others, generally hurting or manipulating other people‘s feelings) is quite common in animated Disney films with a frequency of 9.23 acts per hour (Coyne and Whitehead 2008). Whether or not children can discriminate between fantasy and reality does not inoculate them against the effects of media violence, an argument that is particularly relevant to movie/television violence (AAP 2009a). Music accounts for more than one-third of adolescents‘ exposure to electronic media; on average, they listen to 2.4 hours of music per day, or more than 16 hours per week (Primack et al. 2008). Adolescents aged 14 to 16 listen to approximately 40 hours of popular music per week and children eight to 10 years old listen one hour per day (AAP 2009b). Lyrics have become more explicit in reference to drugs, sex and violence; of the top ten CDs, there is at least one song with sexual content and 42 percent of all songs have very explicit sexual content (AAP 2009b). The lyrics of some genres such as rock, heavy metal and rap are associated with sexual promiscuity, death, homicide, suicide and substance abuse. Rap in particular includes messages of violence, racism, homophobia, and hatred and violence toward women. Drugs, cigarettes and alcohol use also tend to be glorified in rap music (AAP 2009b). Not surprisingly, watching rap music videos is associated with increased promiscuity, misogyny and use of drugs and alcohol. Frequent watching of music videos has also been related to an increased risk of believing in false stereotypes, perceived importance of appearance (and weight in particular), and increased 69  acceptance of date rape. About 75 percent of 10 to 12-year-olds watch music videos with the content of violence ranging from 11.5 percent to 22.4 percent (AAP 2009b). More than half of the videogames surveyed contain elements of violence yet 90 percent of games are rated as appropriate for children 10 years or older (AAP 2009b). Research reveals that 78 percent of boys report owning M-rated games (those deemed for a mature audience) (AAP 2009a). Additionally, a survey of 1,500 10 to 15 year olds revealed that 38 percent had been exposed to violence scenes while using the Internet (AAP 2009a). The Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment Corporation is one of the top watched sports programs and is particularly popular among children. Over one million children under the age of 12 watch professional wrestling on television. In fact, in 2007, the number one show watched by two to 11 year olds was the WWE show SmackDown (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Fans buy over $44 million of licensed wrestling-themed paraphernalia ranging from clothing to toys to videos. The WWE claims that it is the number one entertainment site for males in the 12 to 17year-old age range (Bernthal and Medway 2005). Brown notes (Berenthal and Medway 2005) that within each episode of televised wrestling, one can observe: 12 uses of weapons, 5 groin kicks, 33 incidents of crotch-grabbing, 21 incidents of simulated sexual activity. Professional wrestling is associated with negative outcomes such as aggression, perpetuating racial stereotyping, desensitizing viewers to violence, and a narrow portrayal of masculinity (e.g. white males are the voice of authority) (Bernthal and Medway 2005). Research reveals an association between heightened wrestling involvement and increased clinical maladjustment, internalizing problems, as well as school difficulties (Bernthal and Medway 2005). Sex in the Media More often than not, children are learning about sex through the media. The group most impacted in this regard are tweens. Music videos, television shows, and movies are rife with implicit and explicit sexual references. Some scholars, notably Kilbourne (1999), Schor (2004), and Linn (2004) hold media directly responsible for the early sexualisation of children. Indeed, approximately 47 percent of high school students reported having had sexual intercourse (Wallman 2008). The US has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among developed nations according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Center for Disease Control 2010). Today's young women are twice as likely as the Boomer generation to have had multiple sex 70  partners by age 18 (Twenge 2006). Persuasion and enticement for sexual activity among adolescents is problematic on two counts: the risk of sexually transmitted infections and costly, unwanted teenage pregnancies. About 750,000 teenagers become pregnant each year in the US (Kost and Henshaw 2012). Furthermore, the US has the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases of any industrialized nation, with almost half of the nation‘s total STDs occurring in young adults (Hust, Brown, and L'Engle 2008). For example, cases of chlamydia in young women increased by six times from 1987 to 2003 (Twenge 2006). Sex and Television In 2004, a study of almost 2,000 teens found that those who watch television with high sexual content are twice as likely to engage in sexual intercourse compared with those who watch less (Twenge 2006). A Kaiser Family Foundation study revealed that 75 percent of television shows contain sexual content, but only 15 percent mentioned safe sex practices; the same holds roughly true of movies (Twenge 2006). As well, research reveals that watching sexually explicit television may lead to teens having sex two to three years earlier than might otherwise occur (Twenge 2006). Sex and Popular Music Current popular music contains more references to sexual activity than any other entertainment medium. Music connects deeply with adolescents, influencing identity development in profound ways. For instance, adolescents often model themselves in terms of dress, behaviour and identity after music superstars (Primack et al. 2008). Longitudinal data show that individuals exposed to degrading sexual references in popular music are in fact, more likely to engage in sexual intercourse at a young age. By ―degrading sex,‖ Primack et al. (2008) are referring to the following construct: 1) one person (usually male) is sex-crazed; 2) their partner (usually female) is objectified, and 3) sexual value is directly tied to physical appearance. Primack et al. (2008) found that more than one third of popular songs had sexual intercourse in the content; degrading sex was associated with substance use, violence and weapon carrying. Degrading sex is particularly prevalent in rap and R&B/hip-hop, the most popular genres among young people regardless of demographic characteristics. Further research found that exposure to televised music videos was associated with increased acceptance of date rape (Primack et al. 2008). 71  Sexualization of Girls In 2007, the APA (Zurbriggen et al. 2007) set up a task force to file an extensive report on the sexualization of girls in the media and its concomitant effects. Their findings, based on an extensive review of the literature, are briefly summarized. In mainstream media, more often than not, women and girls are depicted in a sexualized manner and are thus, objectified. These representations are present in virtually every medium including television, advertisements, music videos and magazines. To begin with, on television, there are a disproportionate number of males; female characters are more than likely attractive and provocatively dressed. In music videos, women are often portrayed exclusively as a decorative sexual object. They are far more likely to wear revealing clothing compared to men featured in such videos. Even in cartoons and other animated programs, girls are portrayed as domestic, interested in boys, and highly concerned with appearance. Disney's female characters exude a sexuality that was not present in former times. The content of teen magazines encourages young women to think of themselves as sexual objects and depicts rigid norms of physical attractiveness through the consumption of clothes and cosmetics. The media highlight ―deficit" so that girls who fail to pursue their beauty ideals are portrayed as those who lost out, vilified for their rebellion. In top-selling video games, only the female characters were found to be highly sexualized. Approximately 12 percent of all websites are pornographic and when surveyed, 70 percent of teens said they encountered pornography on the Internet. In advertising, the sexualization of women is particularly pronounced. Girls often appear in conjunction with sexualized adult women posing in matching clothing, or seductively. Products for young girls also promote the sexualization of girls. For example, the Bratz dolls come in sexualized clothing and are marketed to girls as young as four years old. Toy manufacturers also produce dolls for 8 to 12-year-old girls that wear black leather miniskirts, feather boas and thigh-high boots. The thong, an article of clothing based on what a stripper might wear, is marketed to tweens along with cosmetics associated with the desire for sexual attractiveness (Zurbriggen et al. 2007). Babies can wear bibs embroidered with ―Supermodel‖ or ―Chick Magnet‖ (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Push-up bras for preteens are now a marketable product as are tanning salons that cater to children (Durham 2008). A 2007 survey revealed that 55 percent of six to nineyear-olds wear lip gloss or lipstick, and 65 percent said they use nail polish (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Cosmetic companies regard this age group as their ―starter market‖ (Twenge 72  and Campbell 2009). Indeed, many third-graders now wear make-up, get professional pedicures and have makeover sessions for their birthdays (Twenge and Campbell 2009). There are many negative outcomes for girls as a result of being sexualized: 60 percent of all rape victims are girls under the age of 18; 75 percent of all child sexual abuse is perpetrated on girls; girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape than the general population (Durham 2008). Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs and Media Exposure Advertisements for beer, alcohol, tobacco and drugs proliferate in venues that attract large numbers of children (Strasburger and Wilson 2002). Advertisements are designed to grab the interest of children by exploiting the same vulnerabilities as those for clothing—―you need this to be and feel cool.‖ Although tobacco can no longer be advertised on television, it is less strictly regulated in the online world; marketers use sites to create one-on-one relationships with children as a means of attracting them to their products (Calvert 2008). Interactive media have an edge over television by being able to ‗read‘ each learner‘s knowledge base and adapt messages accordingly. As well, the surreptitious presentation of messages about products in online forums can access implicit memory (Calvert 2008). For example, one tactic is to entice children to interact with online characters who promote specific brands. Research shows that children and adolescents are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs when they are exposed to advertisements and programming depicting these types of products (Sargent et al. 2001). As with the food industry, or with the producers of media violence, executives in the alcohol and tobacco industry claim there is no causal relationship shown between advertising and underage drinking and smoking. Stereotypes Corporations such as Disney have commodified and created commercial space based on mythological tales that exhort childhood innocence (Giroux 1997). In the so-called apolitical atmosphere of Disneyland, children are exposed to sanitized versions of the issues surrounding identity and culture. Giroux (1997) claims there are numerous cultural themes in Disney‘s animated films that are problematic for children to absorb including female subordination and racial stereotyping, to name two. In general, children‘s television can be faulted for its blatant stereotyping based on class, gender, race and ethnicity (Seiter 1998). Even television for adults 73  reveals programs that are largely centered on a ―man‘s world‖ (Signorielli and Bacue 1999), television that many children will view long before they reach adulthood. The phenomenon of stereotyping is also prevalent in the culture surrounding wrestling; wrestling is unabashedly about the promotion of stereotypes for men and boys with respect to the expression of physical violence and domination of femininity (Gresson III 1997). In addition, Kenway and Bullen (2001) believe that video games aimed at boys also create discrimination based on gender in that many of these masculine-oriented games are misogynistic and homophobic. The mediated world that children are exposed to is a type of hyper-reality in which issues of class, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and gender struggles are largely ignored. For example, in media simulations there is a dominance of images of white boys and blonde girls. The world of television and its cast of characters are thus likely to be driven by the narrow restriction of formulaic writing, rather than going beyond stereotypes. The effect of television on conceptions of gender roles remains deleterious to social equality of the genders. The media is, largely, a purveyor of a unidimensional ideology that exudes a militaristic, patriarchal, class-biased and racist-type imagery (Steinberg and Kincheloe 1997). Undermining Adults The marketing industry has found it more lucrative to solicit children at the exclusion of, and even against, parental influence (Schor 2005). Children‘s consumer culture often involves a subversion of adult values by incorporating the ―carnivalesque,‖ which is characterized by an element of perversion. As Kenway and Bullen (2001) describe, one of the appeals of consumer culture is that it coincides with the taboo-breaking of many youth cultural forms. For example, advertising and television construct school as a dystopia by depicting how children are governed and restrained, rather than guided and nurtured. Children‘s culture is touted to be separate from, and even superior to, that of education. Children are often encouraged to regard adults as the negative ‗Other,‘ as ‗uncool.‘ Many of Hollywood films, such as the Home Alone series, depict the way adults are cast as immoral, irresponsible and above all, easily outwitted by kids. By the same token, these films depict the child as pleasure-seeking and self-indulgent yet, an autonomous rational decision-maker (Kenway and Bullen 2001).  74  Empirical Research on Consumerism, Materialism and Well-being of Children In her seminal study on consumerism, Schor (2004) addressed the question: "How does children's involvement in consumer culture affect their well-being?" Her research results revealed that consumer culture appears to be harmful to the overall well-being of children. The methodology of Schor‘s quantitative survey study requires close examination particularly because of her claim that the results indicated causality and not just correlation. As a first step, she applied regression analysis to satisfy whether or not a correlation existed between the dependent (e.g., depression, anxiety) and independent variables (e.g. use of media). Using this model, she was able to specify all possible causal relationships in advance and then test to see which were best supported by the data using computer estimates. To resolve the question of causality Schor employed ―structural equation modeling‖ to establish with some certainty that the dependent and independent variables were indeed causally related (Schor 2004:166). To begin with, Schor surveyed 300 children between the ages of 10 and 13 in the areas of media use, consumer values, involvement in consumer culture, relationships with parents, and physical well-being. Schor‘s intent was to connect media use, advertising and children‘s involvement in the marketplace and then test to see whether their involvement had any effect on their well-being. Four measures were used as indicators, namely that of anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and psychosomatic symptoms (i.e. headache, stomach-ache, boredom). As well, children were asked to describe their feelings toward their parents to ascertain the quality of the relationship. The results from Schor‘s study were significant; children who are more involved in consumer culture tended to be more depressed, more anxious, have lower self-esteem and suffer from more psychosomatic complaints. Schor believes it is fair to conclude that psychologically healthy children will likely be made worse off to the extent they engage in consumer culture. As well, children with emotional problems can expect improvements to the extent they disengage from the world of digital media. Schor also found that children who spend more time watching television and using other media are more likely to involve themselves in consumer-type behaviours. The latter finding may be a result of the fact that, with its emphasis on materialism, television induces discontent, and causes children to place greater emphasis on brands and products, and to adopt consumer values. Also, in this study, higher levels of consumer involvement resulted in worse relationships with parents. And as children's relations with their parents are compromised, there is an additional negative effect on well-being. Schor describes it 75  as: "Consumer culture packs a double wallop" (170). Finally, of significance, Schor found no differences based on gender despite widely held beliefs that media comparisons are more difficult for girls than boys. Schor‘s findings strongly suggest a causal relationship between consumerism and negative physical and psychological health. Specifically, high consumer involvement may be a significant cause of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and psychosomatic complaints. The reverse was not true for her sample—being depressed or anxious or having low self-esteem did not cause higher levels of consumer involvement. As to why Schor‘s results revealed such outcomes, two possibilities can be considered. First, it may be that high consumer involvement is accompanied by strong feeling of dissatisfaction, unfulfilled longing and a keen sense of social comparison. These types of mental states lead to, or are often accompanied by, depression and anxiety. Second, it may be that consumer involvement detracts from other positive or beneficial activities and behaviours which could alleviate negative mental processing. While demonstrating a powerful connection between consumer culture and well-being in children, Schor‘s 2004 study also raises a number of questions. For instance, the sample size was relatively small considering the generalizations made about the wider culture: Can the study be replicated? As well, the results may have varied if the study had been longitudinal, looking at the long-term effects of consumer culture with the same cohort over time: Do children grow out of anxiety, depression and negative parental attitudes the older they get given their consumer involvement remains relatively high? Finally, there may have been other factors contributing to symptoms of depression and anxiety for children in the study, those working synergistically with high levels of consumer involvement. Finally, the complexity of children‘s mental health makes it difficult to assign linear causality. Roeser et al. (1998) found that emotional distress (e.g., internalized sadness or shame, guilt, and anxiety) is associated with diminished academic functioning. Symptoms of depression such as sadness, hopelessness and loneliness have also been associated with lower achievement on standardized tests, lower teacher-rated grades, challenge avoidance in the classroom and poorer peer relations (Roeser et al. 1998). Furthermore, there are reverberating effects from academic problems that can emerge in late adolescence, including drug use and abuse, delinquency, teenage pregnancy and failure to complete high school (Roeser et al. 1998). 76  It is helpful to look at research on materialism and well-being to gain further understanding as to the impact of consumer culture, considering how closely linked consumerism is with materialism. Materialism can be defined as: "The importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions. At the highest levels of materialism, such possessions assume a central place in a person's life and are believed to provide the greatest source of satisfaction" (Belk, 1985:265). Over the past two decades, a number of psychologists have demonstrated that individuals who strongly upheld values such as wealth, possessions, image and status reported lower subjective well-being. Specifically, Kasser and Ryan (1993; 1996; 2001) found repeatedly, using quantitative survey analysis, that when extrinsic, materialistic values were rated as high in comparison to other pursuits such as self-acceptance, affiliation and community feeling, lower quality of life was reported. Kasser and Ryan‘s 1993 study showed that when financial success is central to young adult‘s goals, low well-being, high distress and difficulties adjusting to life are evident. These same adults also appear to be lower in social productivity and general functioning, and higher in conduct disorders. In their 1996 study, Kasser and Ryan found that when extrinsic goals concerning the attainment of rewards were relatively central to an adult‘s personality, lower well-being and greater distress were found. These same adults also demonstrated less self-actualization, vitality, and more depression, narcissism and physical symptoms, when compared with subjects who valued intrinsic goals. In 2001, Kasser and Ryan found that individuals who are extrinsically-oriented (e.g., drawn to wealth, appearance, fame) use drugs, cigarettes and alcohol more frequently than those who are more intrinsically-oriented. They speculated that people who are more extrinsicallyoriented would experience ongoing stress from their less satisfying goal pursuits, lower selfesteem and feelings of insecurity (with a tendency to self-medicate). In the Kasser and Ryan (2001) study, college students were asked to rate how much they felt they had attained extrinsic materialistic goals (money, fame and image) and intrinsic non-materialistic goals (personal growth, close relationships and community contribution). They found that almost equivalent well-being was reported by those who had attained both extrinsic and intrinsic goals, and only intrinsic goals. Those who attained only extrinsic goals were low in well-being. Results also suggested that high frequency of television watching was especially related to endorsing extrinsic goals possibly because television frequently/often models this type of orientation (Kasser and Ryan 2001). 77  In his book The High Price of Materialism, Kasser (2002) describes a study by Williams et al. (2000) which found that high school students who smoked were more oriented toward materialistic values than toward values such as self-acceptance, affiliation and community feeling. Williams et al. also found that materialistic teens were more likely to engage in risk behaviours including smoking cigarettes or marijuana, chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual intercourse (Kasser 2002). Cohen and Cohen (1996) found that adolescents who hold others in high esteem because of their possessions were at increased risk for personality disorders. Indeed, highly valuing being rich was associated with virtually every Axis I and Axis II psychological diagnosis analyzed in their research. Sheldon and Kasser (1995) reported that young adults with a strong materialistic orientation described fewer experiences of positive emotions. In fact, a materialistic orientation in this study was associated with pursuing one‘s goals because of feelings of internal guilt and external pressure, rather than for reasons of enjoyment or wholehearted identification. Sheldon and Kasser (1995) also tracked the progress of university students‘ self-identified goals at the beginning and end of the study, and daily over a threemonth period. Students rated the extent to which they believed success with these goals would help them attain materialistic outcomes, as opposed to other outcomes. They found that making progress towards materialistic goals did not improve participants‘ well-being at either the daily or monthly level. It is significant and important to note that the negative association between materialism and well-being has been replicated in samples of different ages and cultures from around the world including: Britain, Denmark, Germany, India, Romania, Russia, South Korea and Australia; German adults and business students in Singapore; and adults in China, Turkey, Australia, Canada and Singapore (Kasser 2002). The studies on materialism and well-being reveal that beyond providing for basic needs, increased wealth does little to enhancing people‘s level of happiness. Interestingly, Kasser (2005) found, when looking at frugality and generosity in children ages 10 to 18, that females are more generous than males, and that males were more materialistic than females. As well, older children are less frugal and less generous than younger children. Kasser (2005) also reported that those low in frugality reported lower self-esteem, more use of cigarettes and increased incidences of fighting with others. Moreover, those low in generosity reported being less happy, having lower self-esteem, drinking more alcohol and 78  getting into more fights and trouble at school. In this same study, consistent with previous findings, those high in materialistic values reported less happiness, more anxiety and lower selfesteem (Kasser 2005). Clearly, successfully pursuing materialistic goals fails to increase one‘s happiness; at most, one might experience a temporary improvement of mood, but it is likely to be brief and superficial. One of the reasons that materialistic values of wealth, status and image fail to deliver contentment is that they work against interpersonal relationships and meaningful connections to others—two of the hallmarks of psychological health and quality of life (Kasser 2002). Pursuits of materialistic values are generally associated with deep-rooted feelings of insecurity, trying to prove one‘s competence, and a diminution of personal freedom (Kasser 2002). Personal freedom may feel compromised due to the tendency to feel pressured, or compelled to obtain rewards and praise, so characteristic of the pursuit of high-materialism (Kasser 2002). Twenge et al. (2010) looked at whether MMPI2 scores had changed between the 1930s and the present among high school and college students to determine what, if any, generational changes in mental health had occurred. Specifically, Twenge et al. (2010) hypothesized that cultural change over the last few decades may be a contributing factor for the dramatic rise in symptoms on the MMPI, indicating increased psychopathology in young people. Large changes over relatively short periods of time cannot be attributed to genetics and are therefore, likely to be linked to environment. The data suggest that the rise in mental health disorders amongst young people coincides with greater emphasis on extrinsic goals such as material wealth and less emphasis on intrinsic goals such as valuing community (Twenge et al. 2010). Buijzen and Valkenburg (2003) conducted a quantitative study to re-investigate whether and how television advertising is related to materialism, parent-child conflict, and unhappiness. They found that children who watched television commercials on a regular basis held stronger materialistic values than their counterparts (those who watched commercials infrequently). Since television is replete with advertisements designed to promote and encourage consumption, it is no surprise that it shows up as positively correlated with materialism. The authors, employing a quantitative analysis, also found that advertising exposure leads to an increased  2  Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is a survey used to identify mental health symptoms.  79  number of purchase requests, thus contributing to parent-child conflict. This relation was stronger for younger children and for boys. While Buijzen and Valkenburg did not find a direct relation between advertising and disappointment, or between advertising and less life dissatisfaction, they did find an indirect one. The results showed that advertising exposure led to an increased number of purchase requests, which were associated with increased levels of disappointment (Buijzen and Valkenburg 2003). Russell and Tyler employed a combination of methodologies in their 2005 study focusing on the relationship between young girls lived experience of consumer culture and gender role acquisition. They engaged the participants by having them collate material on the relationship between childhood, femininity and consumer culture. Russell and Tyler also used ethnography in the form of participant observation and focus groups. It was therefore, predominantly a qualitative analysis in which the participants‘ opinions and views were central to understanding the issues at hand. The authors found that shopping occupied a pivotal role. They found that girls pursue their ideal of femininity largely through their role as consumers. The results of the Russell and Tyler study indicated that girls recognize that they are being targeted for commercial interests. They also concluded that cultural emphasis on the individual means that children have to assert and maintain an identity while participating in consumer cultures, thus embracing two parallel processes, namely, identification and differentiation. In a qualitative study of British teenagers aged 16- to 19-years-old, involving participant observation, Miles (1996) found that individuals were constructing their individuality according to sub-cultural parameters that were already well established, rather than forging into ‗unknown‘ or risky territory as a means of defining the self. Specifically, these young consumers were using commodities (shoes) to represent ‗who one is‘ in relation to the everyday ‗street‘ culture, but in a relatively safe way—conforming while appearing to express individuality. Although the teenagers knew that they were adopting a trend that was popular amongst their peers, they justified this by convincing themselves that they were still, in fact, different from the crowd. Based on his data, Miles believes that consumption performs the role of solidifying an individual‘s identity. He arrived at this conclusion by noting that peer relations in particular, are mediated through consumption as a means of reasserting ―stable‖ identity formation. In other words, there is a need to believe we are distinctive individuals, despite conforming to standards established by others. 80  Currrie (1999) conducted a qualitative study to determine how female teenagers used teenzines (magazines aimed at a female teenage audience) and what the magazines meant to them in terms of culture. The girls in this study indicated that they were enamoured with teenzines because they represented a site where their concerns, ideas and needs were addressed; teenzines are in fact, one of the few popular texts available to adolescents that highlight the positive values of teens. Ironically, the discourse of teenzines, and cultural context in which they are produced, is one in which women are oppressed. Teenzines normalize dominant cultural values and behaviours that shape how femininity should be projected and conceived. Nonetheless, Currie believes that teenzines offer a text that validates the importance of female adolescents‘ struggle and holds significance for girls as a result. Identity in Relation to Consumer Culture The topic of identity is vast, complex and beyond the scope of this dissertation. That having been said, some theories that specifically address the modern dilemma of identity formation will be briefly covered because they provide a context within which to understand the impact of consumer culture. Indeed, the realm of consumption provides an important source for children‘s identity construction. Theories and Definitions In the world of modernity and globalization, social scientists (Bauman 2000; Giddens 1991) believe that identity, which has always been vital to the understanding of the self, has become problematic. The fast-paced global network in which many of us live is such that identities have had to become extremely adaptive to social change (Bendle 2002). Today‘s individual seems to be in a continuous developmental crisis, engaged in an identity process that lasts a lifetime. Regardless, identity is considered to be fundamental to personal well-being and merits discussion, particularly in relation to how children fare in consumer-driven societies. Identity can be defined simply as the subjective concept of oneself as a human being (Vignoles et al. 2006). Burke and Stets (2009) offer a more comprehensive definition, one that includes both the role of the psyche and that of the collective: An identity is the set of meanings that define who one is when one is an occupant of a particular role in society, a member of a particular group, or claims particular characteristics that identify him or her as a unique person. (3) 81  They also stipulate that people possess multiple identities because they occupy multiple roles, are members of multiple groups, and are comprised of multiple personal characteristics (Burke and Stets 2009). The self is said to originate in the mind and is that which characterizes an individual's consciousness of his or her own being or identity; each of the smaller "selves" operate under the umbrella of the larger identity structure (Burke and Stets 2009). Identity can be said to be ―all inclusive,‖ by virtue of the fact that it encompasses individual, relational and social levels of self-representation. A person's identity is not to be found in behaviours, nor in feedback from others, but in the capacity to "keep a particular narrative going;" thus, the self is reflexively understood by an individual in terms of his or her biography (Giddens 1991:54). The traits from which such biographies are constructed vary both socially and culturally. Feelings about one‘s identity can vary in extremes from robust to fragile depending upon the ―story‖ that is dominant (Giddens 1991). Again, identity is located at the level of subjective psychological experience, rather than an objective "essence." Identity therefore, sustains a sense of self that is alive, and within the scope of reflexive control, rather than as that of an object (Giddens 1991). Identity can be understood as developing through a complex interplay of cognitive, affective and social interactive processes all of which occur within a particular cultural context that must also be considered. There are ongoing pressures toward certain identity states, and away from others, all of which guide the fluid process of identity construction. Consciously or otherwise, individuals strive to maximize satisfaction and minimize dissatisfaction when making decisions that lead to the continued construction of their identity (Giddens 1991). In addition to having both cognitive and emotional processes, identities encompass functioning at both conscious and unconscious levels (Burke and Stets 2009). Thus, the concept of identity has several facets including individual, inner and psychic dimensions, as well as, external, collective, social and cultural influences that are dependent upon context for understanding (Fornäs 1995). Consumer capitalism, with its efforts to standardize consumption and to shape desires through advertising, plays a basic role in forming superficial identities, even narcissism. Giddens (1991) notes that ―the idea of generating an educated and discerning public has long since come to the pervasiveness of consumerism, which is a society dominated by appearances" (172). Furthermore, consumption addresses the alienated qualities of modern social life and claims to be the most viable solution, promising the very things narcissistic identity-types desire, namely, attractiveness, beauty and personal popularity through the acquisition of the 82  ‗right‘ kinds of goods and services. Citizens of consumer cultures live as though their reflection is ubiquitous, ever searching for the appearance of an unblemished, socially-valued self. The task of building identity in consumer capitalism is fraught with obstacles; an identity has to be created and more or less continually reordered against the backdrop of shifting experiences in the fragmenting tendencies of modern institutions and patterns of consumption. Moreover, the sustaining of the narrative that accompanies identity in its chameleon-like formations directly affects and to some degree constructs the body as well as the self. Bauman (2000) proposes that the modern identity is fraught with the difficulties that come with addiction, namely, an insatiable desire to shop. In a consumer society, the universal dependency on shopping is the sine qua non of freedom—the freedom to be different, to ‗have identity‘ (Bauman 2000). Bauman (2000) imagines the modern individual as one who is guided by seduction, rather than normative regulation, running after pleasurable sensations, but at the same time trying to find an escape from "the agony called insecurity" (81). The modern identity strives to be sure of itself, confident and trusting by chasing after objects deemed to be desirable and claiming a promise of certainty; each attempt is followed by another in an endless cycle— clinging to things solid and tangible, yet chronically unfulfilling. Thus, identities seem fixed and solid only when observed from the outside. Beneath the surface lies a fragile, vulnerable self, torn asunder by an ever-raging desire to appear whole and solid. In essence, consumer culture is about the continual reinvention of the self as Bauman describes: Given the intrinsic volatility and unfixity of all or most identities, it is the ability to ‗shop around‘ in the supermarket of identities, the degree of genuine or putative consumer freedom to select one's identity and to hold to it as long as desired, that becomes the royal road to the fulfillment of identity fantasies. Having that ability, one is free to make and unmake identities at will. Or so it seems. (83) Bauman also theorizes that the identity which is most desired in modernity can be seen on the ‗screen,‘ that which strips the ‗lived‘ life of its charm. It is the lived life which comes to be seen as unreal, hence, the desire to meld with fantasy (Bauman 2000). The capacity to shop, to pick and eventually, shed one's identity, to regard it as a commodity, has come, ironically, to signify freedom. The balance within consumer culture has tilted from bodies producing commodities (an externalization of labour) to commodities producing bodies (an internalization of consumption) 83  (Williams and Bendelow 1998). For example, the popularity and normalisation of plastic surgeries reflect the commodified nature of the body and indicates the extreme lengths to which individuals strive to achieve the cultural mandates of beauty. Cleaning, adorning and exercising the body are now intimately tied to corporate profit. Bodies, in other words, have become objects to be bought and sold in keeping with the latest corporeal fads and fashions (Williams and Bendelow 1998). Erich Fromm (1947), social psychologist of the Frankfurt School, describes modern man‘s commodification as self-esteem beyond his or her control—meeting market standard brings ‗success,‘ failure to do so invokes a sense of worthlessness. No longer is one‘s own value constituted by the human qualities one possesses, but by a competitive market in constant flux. This explains the frenetic drive to strive for success and fear of setback which could then lead to feelings of inferiority or loss of self-worth. Individuals feel empty because they lack a secure, reliable internal structure known as ―the self‖. This is why according to Levine (2006) many adolescents are unable to initiate internal exploration, a necessary precursor to a well-developed sense of self. Fromm (1947) also suggests that identity becomes shaky in modern capitalism because ―man encounters his own powers as commodities alienated from him‖; both his powers (capacities) and what they create are no longer a part of one‘s identity, but are there for others to judge and use (72). Identity formation is thus determined by what the market dictates. The individual is forced to rely on the judgments and opinions of others to the degree that genuine feelings of identity are lost. Fromm (1947) writes that: The difference between people is reduced to a merely quantitative difference of being more or less successful, attractive, hence valuable. This process is not different from what happens to commodities on the market...[The] difference between people is reduced to a common element, their price on the market. Their individuality, that which is peculiar and unique in them, is valueless and, in fact, a ballast. (73–74) In consumer cultures, equality no longer represents the individual‘s capacity for the development of his or her true nature, but paradoxically, represents the eradication of individuality. Ultimately, when the self is neglected, the relationships between people take on a superficial quality, only sharing the part of them that is saleable; the relationship is strictly valued primarily for its utility as a commodity (Fromm 1947). Thus, affluent cultures, those that embrace materialism, value performance over learning and external motivation over internal  84  motivation by overemphasizing competition and devaluing integrity, cooperation and altruism (Levine 2006). One of the greatest challenges to identity formation within modernity is the pace with which the self has to be shaped, altered and sustained in relation to rapidly changing circumstances of social life, both on a local and global scale. Indeed, the period of consumer capitalism is characterized by rapid social, economic and cultural change, a key feature of daily life, particularly in the West (Rattansi and Phoenix 2005). Additionally, as society becomes more differentiated in terms of groups, organizations and roles available to individuals, persons who take on more of these identities become more complex themselves. The pre-modern self where there was more sharing of cultural meaning and expectations across a relatively small number of identities, was generally, simpler than the postmodern self: not only are there more identities available to the modern individual, but they have less in common with one another (Burke and Stets 2009). While children generally have fewer identities available to them than adults, modernity still presents numerous challenges particularly as media encourages a quick exit from childhood and rapid adoption of roles more ‗suitable‘ to that of adults. Corporations have commodified the ideal adult persona for which to strive, thus actively shaping children‘s identities. Children‟s Identity in Modernity: the Double-Edged Sword of Technology It is widely believed that the pressure on the young to establish an identity is now greater than any previous time in history (Ganetz 1995). The ―new‖ media including video games, MP3 players, iPods, ‗smart‘ phones and computers provide endless opportunities to reinvent the self. Additionally, millions of teens now create and manage their social worlds through instant messaging (Stern 2007). On average, children are spending five to six hours per day on weekdays in front of a screen and up to seven and a half hours per day on weekends (Active Healthy Kids Canada 2008). It should be noted that the recommended leisure-related screen time guidelines of Canadian and US Paediatric Associations is limited to two hours per day (Active Healthy Kids Canada 2008). Since identity is a process of constant negotiation, online communities allow participants to alter the self in the hopes of gaining social status. For many children, technology becomes the means with which to express one‘s ―true‖ identity, a place free from adult intervention (Ermann 85  2004; Stern 2007). The Web sites children create function as a form of identity expression, selfdisclosure and communication. In 2000, a study reported that girls between the ages of 12 and 17 were considered to be the fastest growing group of Internet users; girls are more likely to use email and instant messaging, while boys are more likely to download games and music (Mazzarella 2005). The use of Facebook, for example, seamlessly allows for the reinvention of the self. The screen seemingly offers a benign place to write about oneself, to formulate who you are, as you wish to be seen; it is not uncommon for individuals to ‗practice‘ on the internet, expressing emotions and ideas that would be difficult to do in the ‗real‘ world. The latter can lead to a false sense of security, and a desire to share our intimate selves with virtual strangers. Shirley Turkle (2010), a technology specialist who undertook a study on the use of technology over 15 years, discovered that anxiety is part of the new connectivity. She noted that while technology is clearly a useful tool, it also puts children in a position of constant surveillance. Being accepted into a virtual clique is risky—whatever gets posted online can haunt someone for a lifetime. Hence, the title of Turkle‘s 2010 book, Alone Together, suggesting that today‘s young people often feel deprived of attention and security despite having hundreds of cyberfriends. Communication, mediated by technology, has become so inextricably linked to identity that the fear of disconnection is a common anxiety; to feel safe is to be connected. At the same time, online friendships can be demanding and stressful. We like it that the Web ‗knows‘ us, but have given up our privacy in return. In a life of texting and messaging, children can accept or, just as easily, dismiss each other on demand. Narcissism and Personality Disorders Psychologists Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell (2009) assert that US culture is suffering from a narcissism epidemic affecting both narcissistic and less self-centered people, including children. They note that the rise in narcissism appears to be accelerating—the increase between 2000 and 2006 was especially sharp. Nearly one out of ten Americans in their twenties has experienced some of the characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder compared with only 3.2 percent of those over 65 years old (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Young children (middle schoolers) have skyrocketed in self-esteem, up markedly from a similar cohort of the 1980s. Narcissism is the ―darker side of the focus on the self‖ and should not be confused with positive self-esteem which encourages an acceptance of the self, and reward of genuine effort 86  (Twenge 2006:70). Narcissism is rooted in the belief that you are special and more important than other people, entitling you to privileges that are not necessarily deserved. According to Twenge and Campbell (2009), the central feature of narcissism is a very positive and inflated view of the self. The outcome of such cognition is a fundamentally imbalanced self with a grandiose, inflated self-image, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of deep connection to others. While narcissists work to keep up their positive self-views and emotions, those around them suffer. Indeed, narcissism is a significant risk factor for aggressive behaviours, as well as for cheating, particularly when rejection is perceived (Twenge and Campbell 2009). The increase in narcissism is reflective of a massive shift in culture toward a greater focus on self-indulgence and a superficial admiration of self. Consumer culture, with its intense focus on children and adolescents, fuels narcissism by encouraging engagement with materialism and superficial lifestyles. Adjusted for inflation, children in the 2000s spent 50 percent more than their parents did at the same age, and many of these kids failed to earn their own money. American advertising appeals to our desire to be unique and different—yet another feature of narcissism. The emphasis on uniqueness is rampant in advertising as evidenced by the sale of customized T-shirts, M&M‘s, fortune cookies, playing cards and calendars (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Even the desire for a unique education has taken off; one of the many reasons behind the movement toward homeschooling according to Twenge and Campbell (2009). Perhaps the most popular cultural message is to repeatedly tell children how special they are. The results are reflected in current statistics: In 2006, 51 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds said that ―becoming famous‖ was an important goal of their generation—nearly five times that of ―becoming spiritual‖ (Twenge and Campbell 2009). As well, a 2006 poll in Britain revealed that children‘s most popular answer to naming the ―very best thing in the world‖ was ―being a celebrity,‖ ―good looks,‖ and ―being rich‖ (Twenge and Campbell 2009). The media plays into the narcissism epidemic with a variety of television shows including one on MTV called My Super Sweet 16 which features rich teens planning their extravagant sixteenth birthday parties. Even younger children are inundated with narcissistic media messages like one PBS show that proclaims, ―You‘re Special Just for Being You!‖ The internet is a place where presenting yourself as better, cooler and more attractive thrives. Narcissists also thrive on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook where self-promotion is the norm; with YouTube, individuals can have their own ‗show.‘ Unlike traditional media that focuses on other‘s lives and 87  experiences, social networks foster an obsession with ‗me‘ by making children the stars of their own stories (Bakan 2011). A 2008 survey found that one out of four teen girls sent a nude or nearly nude picture of herself via the internet or cell phone (Twenge and Campbell 2009). Branding This generation of young consumers has been singled out as the most brand conscious ever by virtue of the depth and breadth of their brand knowledge and preferences. (Achenreiner and John 2003:205) Over the last decade, there has been an exponential increase in the use of brands directed at children. Branding is the process by which corporations use products to create and communicate specific concepts for the purpose of marketing. The overall aim of branding is to associate cultural content with a brand. It would appear that all available space, every desire and thought, will reflect the meaning and values of some brand (Morris 2001). Corporations are relying on the value of the image of their product, rather than its utility as a marketing tool. There is some evidence to suggest that children are incorporating the associations belonging to brands into their self-concepts, a process referred to as ―self-brand connections‖ (Chaplin and John 2005:119). The intimate entangling of brand and identity is nowhere more evident than in the experience of childhood over the last 20 years. Brand promotion is comprehensive, so much so, that the division between entertainment and advertising, and day-to-day functioning is seamless. As Langer (2004:263) describes it: ―The colonization of children‘s lives by the entertainment product cycle has woven Disney, Hasbro, Mattel and McDonald‘s into the fabric of everyday life for urban children across the globe.‖ Children have been bombarded by brands defined by name products with intrusive and clever advertising strategies such that branding has become a way of life. Through licensing and merchandising, everything from television shows to toys and other products generate sales, keeping corporate brands and logos in the minds and psyches of children. Corporations invest grandly in design strategies to acquire the right logos, constantly reinventing their image in the most eye-catching way. Journalist and consumer critic Naomi Klein (2000) exposed how corporations are more about brands than products—a strategy of imprinting on the very identity of those who desperately seek brand ‗status.‘ Klein writes that, ―the product always takes a back seat to the real product, the brand, and the selling of the brand [can] only be described as spiritual...Branding, in its truest and most advanced incarnations, is about corporate transcendence‖ (21). Children are an especially desirable brand 88  audience because they represent potential for lifetime loyalty. Unlike adults, who are relatively fixed in their brand preferences, children and teens are viewed as exquisitely pliable. Children as young as three can be avid consumers and devoted media watchers; by age five many begin to show interest in brands and can recognize them in stores (Achenreiner and John 2003; Kline 2005). More specifically, conceptual brand meanings, the non-observable abstract features of a product, begin to be considered by children around the age of eight (Achenreiner and John 2003). Ross and Harradine (2004) found that early brand awareness and recognition is a guarantee of brand loyalty later in life. It has been established that by age 12, children are able to think about brands on a conceptual level and begin to incorporate these meanings into many types of brand-related judgments (Achenreiner and John 2003). However, it is unrealistic to assume that they also have the sophistication required to critically reflect on the true meaning and impact of brands. Product placement now pervades throughout many types of media from television to video games, and aims to harness children's desires with branded images they cannot resist. Quart (2003) coined the term "body branding," or "branding of the flesh" because of the explosion in cosmetic surgery on teens 18 and under (124). Almost 306,000 of the 7.4 million plastic surgeries performed in the US in 2000 were alterations of teens and children (Quart 2003). According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, teen surgeries doubled between 2002 and 2010 (Kelly 2010). And between 2002 and 2003, breast implants for 18-year-olds and younger nearly tripled (Zurbriggen et al. 2007). Television shows have made plastic surgery appear to be a cool thing; MTV‘s I Want a Famous Face features young people who get plastic surgery to resemble their favourite celebrity (Twenge and Campbell 2009). While boys typically are considered to be less at risk when it comes to appearance obsession, eight percent of twelfth grade boys in the US admitted to using steroids (Twenge 2006). The quest to transform the self physically, emotionally and psychologically is one of the outcomes of branding. Hence, identity formation is closely aligned with branded images, especially those that infiltrate deep into the psyche of children. More specifically, brands can perform two main roles for a consumers' identity: an emotional role by providing a means of identification, and a social role through shorthand communication about which we are (Dittmar and Howard 2004). According to Elliott and Wattansuawan (1998), brands are used by the consumer both for the construction and maintenance of identity. 89  Children also experience branding through contemporary consumer culture‗s obsession with celebrity (Boden 2006). Children are ―encouraged‖ by marketers to adopt any aspect of the celebrity‘s persona that can be sold for profit. The post-teen Britney Spears craze several years ago is a good example of how powerful these images become. The mechanism of identifying with a celebrity directly impacts a child‘s social identity, or that aspect of the self that manoeuvres socially. Boden (2006), using a qualitative study paradigm, observed that children‘s investments in sports stars and pop stars as commercial cultural icons appeared to directly shape identity. And since the celebrity is almost always an adult, the ‗style of life‘ (cultivation of a particular look) that children come to crave leads them closer to a world for which they are not ready. Research on the effects of branding Elliot and Leonard (2004) examined the effect of brand-name shoes amongst poor children aged eight to twelve. This study is important because it is one of the few qualitative studies that explored children‘s attitudes towards fashion brands and their symbolic meaning. The results indicated that children appear to identify with and desire the positive characteristics associated with brand-names. The majority of children in the study said that they would refrain from talking to someone who was not wearing the ―right‖ shoes, and that they would be embarrassed to be seen with such a person. Elliot and Leonard (2004) coined the term "brand community" to characterize the fact that all of the children who participated in the study were united by a desire to own Nike shoes, in particular. McCracken (1988) states that fashion brands are part of a system of meanings that are transferred from within the culture to members of that culture. Within the Elliot and Leonard study, this type of transfer was evident; the childparticipants attributed the shoes themselves with traits such as ―cool‖ and ―popular.‖ Elliot and Leonard concluded that sports branding seemed to offer children a fairly easy and obvious way of fitting in with their peers, as well as, providing a good barometer of status. One of the conclusions underscored by the researchers is that brands invoke ―strong attachments‖ and that the children ―appeared to be part of a ‗symbolic‘ brand community‖ (357). Hence, brands exert a powerful influence in that ―children want to own the branded trainers that their peers do in order to enable them to have equal status in the eyes of their friends‖ (357). Oddly enough, Elliot and Leonard (2004) concluded that ―successful brand-building strategies‖ may be having 90  ―unintended and undesirable consequences on various aspects of children‘s attitudes and behaviour.‖ The researchers then summarized by warning that marketers are ―playing into the hands of no logo anti-consumerists‖ (359) (with specific mention of Naomi Klein)—a rather misplaced conclusion considering the negative effects of branded-type advertising that became apparent in their own study. In a somewhat related study to that of Elliot and Leonard‘s (2004), boys were found to admit that the opinions they had of their peers was based on their brand clothing (Frost 2005). A 1999 study by Frost (Frost 2005) revealed that girls identified ‗cool‘ on the basis of attractive individuals in the ―right‖ clothes and ‗sad‘ for those who were not so privileged. Using a qualitative design, Pilcher (2011) found in her study of children aged five to twelve that the consumption of clothing, including branded clothing, appears to be an important way in which they construct their identities and perceive their relationships with peers. What all of these studies have in common is that young children have a fairly advanced recognition and application of the symbolic value of clothing, including branded clothing. Hence, children seem to have a somewhat sophisticated knowledge of clothing consumption both in terms of fashion retailers and the symbolic value of brands. Branded children are a lucrative commodity—one that is now in global demand. Perhaps the most disturbing piece of the branding phenomenon is the extent to which it is voluntary, and embraced with enthusiasm, a highly desirable affiliation. As Gitlin (2001:70) observes: ―Children today gladly turn themselves into walking billboards.‖ Materialism in Relation to Identity: Relevant Empirical Research In consumer cultures, materialism is a significant factor and dominates as one of the central ideologies. Defining the self by one's possessions can contribute to feelings of wellbeing, as well as, those of emptiness and vulnerability (Belk, 2000). Specifically, three key beliefs are present in a materialistic identity construct: material possessions are a central life goal; material possessions are the main route to identity success and happiness; material possessions are a yardstick for evaluating oneself and others (Dittmar, 2004). Dittmar found, throughout her studies, that personal attributes were associated with individuals based on what they own and how they dress. In one of her studies, adults were shown a video of a person and asked for their first impressions. Their judgments of qualities such as friendliness and 91  assertiveness differed depending on whether the person was wearing expensive articles of clothing or not (Dittmar 2004). In general, materialism appears to play an important role in social perception; a person‘s socio-economic location influences his or her views about the world, particularly with respect to economic status and measures (Dittmar and Pepper 1994). Highly materialistic adolescents show a stronger tendency to judge the personal qualities of others in terms of the number and quality of material goods possessed (Dittmar and Pepper 1994). Dittmar (2004) proposed that people often buy consumer goods because of their psychological benefits, rather than their economic and utilitarian value. As well, material goods can signify group affiliations and social standing, including sex-role identification, socioeconomic status or belonging to a subculture; and to some extent their