Drawing on interviews with children’s market researchers, brand managers and other market actors in North America, the UK and Europe, this study analyzes and positions children’s market professionals as knowledge brokers and moral interlocutors who transact between and among clients, colleagues and, at times, parents. The transactions – as understood by practitioners – extend beyond simply seeking to elicit ‘preferences’ for this or that product or experience and suggesting ‘market solutions’ to the immediate business problem at hand. Rather, the cultural labor exerted here resembles a continual sorting process in pursuit of the distinction between the child as a dependent economic actor from the child as a moral being worthy of recognition and commercial deference. They thereby strive to enable the continuity – i.e. erase the boundary – between markets and culture by enacting sympathy, sentiment and even intimacy in the conceptualization and execution of research. Investigating how these market professionals understand, construct and act upon children as economic actors, while situated amidst public, moral discourses to the contrary, opens possibilities to examine how value arises in the cultural practice of making social persons and how social personhood in some ways modulates and informs market exigencies.
Daniel Thomas Cook (2019), Children’s market researchers as moral brokers. Journal of Cultural Economy. Volume 12, 2019 – Issue 1. p. 70-82. https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2018.1514316