The Moral Project of Childhood: Motherhood, Material Life, and Early Children's Consumer Culture (Paperback)Daniel Thomas Cook (author)
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Examines the Protestant origins of motherhood and the child consumer
Throughout history, the responsibility for children's moral well-being has fallen into the laps of mothers. In The Moral Project of Childhood, the noted childhood studies scholar Daniel Thomas Cook illustrates how mothers in the nineteenth-century United States meticulously managed their children's needs and wants, pleasures and pains, through the material world so as to produce the "child" as a moral project.
Drawing on a century of religiously-oriented child care advice in women's periodicals, he examines how children ultimately came to be understood by mothers-and later, by commercial actors-as consumers. From concerns about taste, to forms of discipline and punishment, to play and toys, Cook delves into the social politics of motherhood, historical anxieties about childhood, and early children's consumer culture.
An engaging read, The Moral Project of Childhood provides a rich cultural history of childhood.
Publisher: New York University Press
Number of pages: 256
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"Cook makes a timely and exciting intervention into questions of value, providing stimulating insights into the tempestuous moral project of childhood. Examining 19th-century Anglo-American 'mother's magazines', he argues persuasively against the treatment of consumption as an intervention into 'pre-capitalist childhood'. By adeptly charting the co-constitutive logic of capital and childhood, and the weighty accountability this entails for mothers and motherhood, he offers a lens through which to view the making and exclusive idealization of middle-class White childhoods which resonate to this day. The book asks not just who is a 'child', but when and how bodies are made into children, urging us to interrogate the way contests over childhood are profoundly implicated in affective, moral, and economic valuations."
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