This Little Kiddie Went to Market – 2010

“This Little Kiddy Went to Market”   by Sharon Beder,  University of New South Wales Press, 2009, pp307.   Reviewed by Richard Keller.

 This book review was originally published in Pacific Ecologist (Issue 19 / Winter-Spring 2010), a Wellington published periodical.  The review is more of a summary than a critique.

Sharon Beder concludes her book by observing that children in the English speaking countries are now being guided into an individualistc consumerism just when a social focus in upbringing and education is needed in order to bring about the many types of changes required to meet the implications of climate change, species extinction, water shortages, etc.

“This Little Kiddy Went to Market” takes a wide ranging look at how a for-profit corporate transformation of child rearing and education is taking place.  Each chapter is punctuated with tables, figures and boxes of data illustrating each chapter’s focus, and there are hundreds of references listed in the back.

Young people’s “gatekeepers” (parents, schools, communities) are being bypassed as advertising reaches children through television, internet, supermarkets, toys, etc., promoting feelings of dissatisfaction which apparently only “more stuff” can satisfy.

Schools are under pressure as big corporates call for lower taxes leading to lower budgets for schools.  Then corporate sponsored education think tanks call for “accountability” of individual schools, promoting standardized testing of the kind of “basics”  which business would like to see in employees.

Soon calls for privatisation of schools is suggested as a means to provide competition as is typical in the business world.   Parents would be given a choice of schools.  For-profit businesses emerge (“Kipp schools”, “Charter schools”, “Edison schools”).  “Discovery”, “curiosity” are words seldom heard in many of these schools, replaced by “performance” and “achievement”.

Perhaps the most eye-catching chapter is the one on “wayward” children, those who don’t fit the mold.  They are increasingly being referred to the medical profession, where psychiatry has been increasingly prescribing medication as it evolves in a direction which satisfies the needs of drug companies.

For those readers wishing to get a concise view of the many ways childhood is being captured by corporations this book is highly recommended.


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