Becoming economic subjects: agency, consumption and popular culture in early childhood

Bonnie Saltmarsh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper considers how young children in early childhood education draw on popular texts and consumer goods in their constitution of subjectivities and social relations. The paper draws on poststructuralist theories of subjectivity, agency, consumption and power, to explore how performative practices of consumption figure in the constitution of economically oriented subjectivities. Drawing on data generated in research undertaken in early childhood centres in the culturally diverse outer metropolitan region of Greater Western Sydney, Australia, the paper considers how economic discourse informs children's cultural knowledges, shaping the 'techniques of the self' through their engagement with commercially available images and products. The argument is made that children make strategic use of their knowledge of popular culture and its potential to locate them advantageously in material and symbolic economies, and that the deployment of symbolic and material goods that shapes children's dress, play, and conversation is an important means of rendering oneself intelligible within normative discourses of economic participation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-59
    Number of pages13
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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