© 2018

Childhood and Markets

Infants, Parents and the Business of Child Caring


Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Lydia Martens
    Pages 1-22
  3. Lydia Martens
    Pages 57-81
  4. Lydia Martens
    Pages 83-111
  5. Lydia Martens
    Pages 113-134
  6. Lydia Martens
    Pages 245-263
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 265-277

About this book


This book explores how young children and new families are located in the consumer world of affluent societies. The author assesses the way in which the value of infants and monetary value in markets are realized together, and examines how the meanings of childhood are enacted in the practices, narratives and materialities of contemporary markets. These meanings formulate what is important in the care of young children, creating moralities that impact not only on new parents, but also circumscribe the possibilities for monetary value creation. Three main understandings of early childhood - those of love, protection and purification - and their interrelationships are covered, and illustrated with examples including food, feeding tools, nappies, travel systems and toys. The book concludes by re-examining the relationship between adulthood and the cultural value of young children, and by discussing the implications of the ways markets address young children, also examines the realities of older children in consumer culture.

Childhood and Markets will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, childhood studies, anthropology, cultural studies, media studies, business studies and marketing.


money adulthood childhood baby shows consumption consumers advertising motherhood parenting family

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Keele UniversityNewcastleUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Lydia Martens is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Keele University, UK. 

Bibliographic information


“This is a timely and pioneering contribution to the sociology of consumption, where the topic of children, especially younger children, has been under-researched. Martens’ compelling conclusions about the practice and business of child caring, and its moralities, build upon a combination of thorough empirical investigation and theoretical nuance.” (Bente Halkier, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

“Childhood and Markets makes a timely and very welcome addition to two fields of scholarship - childhood studies and consumer culture. In dialogue with key studies from both fields, Martens offers an exemplary analysis of how the young child is brought into being in contemporary culture. Through a unique exploration of the ‘business’ of childcaring, this text extends our understanding of the emotional significance of children; what a child is and how children should be cared for within the highly commodified world of products and services that surround modern parenthood.” (Mary Jane Kehily, The Open University, UK)

“This timely volume on a much overlooked topic, the business of child caring, is most welcome! Crafting her arguments in an engaging yet scholarly style, Martens makes a strong contribution to our understanding at the intersection of children, childhood and consumer culture. In doing so, she illuminates the knowledge practices that reproduce specific ideological discourses around childhood, practices that render the young child silent, whilst at the same time enabling lucrative new markets to thrive.” (Pauline Maclaran, Royal Holloway University, UK)