Care and Belonging

Jessica Downie Professor Troy McGinnis Reading Journal Entry #1 October 4, 2012 “Care and Belonging in the Market” by Allison J. Pugh Allison J. Pugh took the words right out of my mouth when writing her article on parents spending too much money on material items for their children. Commodity consumption for children has exploded to $670 billion spent annually on or by children in the United states in 2004 and there is a good chance its only getting higher.
She branches off in the article going into several different topics on how the adults and children are effected by their desire to want to belong in society and how it affects the relationship between the parents and the children. It also focuses on the corporate marketers and how they tend to sell a fantasy to the children, reeling them into having a desire to have the product. This being done by the marketers, it also allows the parents to have the desire for their children, resulting in buying the product.
As I was reading this article, it made me think of my childhood growing up and how I related so close to this topic. For me, I didn’t have a lot growing up so I found myself struggling with wanting all the same things my friends had that my parents couldn’t always afford. My parents both worked full time jobs to provide for me and my two older brothers. Allison J. Pugh states in the article that low-income parents often planned ahead and save up to be able to buy their children what they ask for and I saw my parents do this for me and my brothers for Christmas and our birthdays.

My parents taught me at a young age to stay humble and that material things don’t define me as a person. I carry this lesson with my everyday life now. I see my father now buying my two younger half sisters any and everything they could ever want. I see him trying to make up for the things he couldn’t give me while growing up. It also points out that your parents don’t buy you things for the joy of themselves; they simply do it because they have a fear f not wanting their kid to feel left out or feel as if they don’t belong. My five and nine year old sister has been through 2 iPads, iPod touches, cell phones and numerous amounts of toys, each. I find them being spoiled at such a young age is going to lead them to grow up not understanding the meaning of what a privilege it is to have nice things. Naturally everyone has a desire to fit in and be accepted by society, that wont ever change. As you get older, you are more aware of your status in society.
You come to understand how society works, the interaction between people and the meanings of symbols in your day-to-day life. I do believe if more kids are exposed to valuable lessons growing up and not just get things handed to them, the chances of them taking these things for granted is less and maybe they wont feel the need to have the newest pair of Air Jordan’s or the latest iPhone just because everyone else does. I asked myself a few questions as I read through the article.
One being, how was I effected by what my parents bought me growing up? Why does society look down on others if they don’t have the best of the best? Will this ever change? I started to pay attention to children and their parents when I was at the store, work and when I was at the mall the other day. I feel as if parents these days almost buy their kids love by giving into what they want even if its something ridiculous. Parents give in way too easily and the kids catch on to what they can and cant get away with.
This also being a problem when trying to persuade your parents that you absolutely need the new Nintendo DS or else your life is over. She spent time with families who were low-income families and richer families. She noticed that “affluent parents practiced a form a form of “symbolic deprivation” pointing to particularly meaningful goods or experiences that their child didn’t not have as evidence of their own moral restraint and worthiness as parents. ” I had to break that down to really understand what she meant by that.
I think she means the affluent parents buy their children material things because they can and they want to stay higher up on the ladder in society. As for most low-income parents, they implemented a form of “symbolic indulgence”. Making sure that those particular goods or experiences have the most significant symbolic value for the children’s social world. They did the best they could with the resources they had and sometimes putting those items more important than anything else at that time.
Id be lying if I was to say that I think this explosion of parents spending ridiculous amounts of money to shape their child’s social status is going to change anytime soon. I don’t think it will ever change. Its practically an unwritten rule in society. Parents will continue to do anything they can to make the kids be accepted by society and make them feel as comfortable as they grow older and make their way into the real world.

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