Growing up consumer: representations of adult culture in contemporary American children's magazines
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This study examines how contemporary American children's magazines represent the culture of adults organized for kids in two commercial magazines -- Sports Illustrated Kids and National Geographic Kids -- and two noncommercial magazines -- Highlights for Children and Cricket. A content analysis of all written editorial and visuals analyzed 2,029 total stories and accompanying images, then compared data from the commercial and noncommercial titles. Independent tests found no significant differences between means of references to money, buying/shopping, attending school/doing homework, and multitasking between commercial and noncommercial titles; however, references to consuming media, working, exercising, and leisure activity appeared significantly more in the commercial magazines, and references to selling, reading, feeling stress, and other appeared significantly more in the noncommercial titles. Quantitative analysis also found that adult male characters appeared more often than adult female characters, with the exception of Highlights for Children, in which males and females received equal attention. The most common adult role among the magazines was a working professional. A qualitative discourse analysis examined four discourses on consumerism that appeared in the magazines' feature stories (political consumerism, liberal and neoliberal discourse, critical consumption, and pro-consumerism vs. anti-consumerism) and explored how these discourses related to adult depictions and behaviors within the stories as well as the social instruction children received from the magazines' content.
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