The Unicef report on consumerism in children


Thereport by Unicef, the UN children\’s agency, warns that materialism has come to dominate family life in Britain as parents \”pointlessly\” amass goods for their children to compensate for their long working hours.

While parents said they felt compelled into buying more, the children themselves said spending time with their families made them happier.

Unicef UK said the obsession was one of the underlying causes of the riots and widespread looting which gripped the UK last month, as teenagers targeted shops for the designer clothes and goods.

My word. So, who wrote this report?

The report, authored by Dr Agnes Nairn, an academic and marketing expert, said: “Parents in the UK almost seemed to be locked into a system of consumption which they knew was pointless but they found hard to resist.\”

That would be this Agnes Nairn would it?

Agnes is currently working with organisations who want to operate ethically in the fields of marketing and market research – particularly when working with children. She provides:

  • Consultancy
  • Ethics Awareness Programmes
  • Ethics Training
  • Guidance on implementing marketing and advertising codes and practices

The Agnes Nairn who is of course entirely impartial on the subject of the commercialisation, consumerisation, of childhood and the Agnes Nairn who would have no financial interest at all in an increase in concern about such matters?

That Dr. Agnes Nairn?

Oh, rightie ho then.

6 thoughts on “The Unicef report on consumerism in children”

  1. If you take a look at the report, you’ll also find it’s based on a “scoping study” by the, er, New Economics Foundation and Kate “Spirit Level” Pickett is on the steering committee. So, no political bias there then.

  2. Unimportant Quibbler

    What’s particularly amusing is that it’s the UK professional worry-experts who wrote the report castigating the UK.

    Were their Spanish equivalents hired to write a similar report, based on a scoping study by the Spanish version of nef, I suspect Spain would top the league of countries that have something to worry about, and should therefore give more money to the professional worry-experts…

  3. The thing that pisses me off is the total lack of scepticism. Nobody in the meeja, in the press, nobody, actually says, “what’s the story behind this thing?”. They just go, “It’s the UN, that’s reliable, print it as fact”. What do these “journalists” actually do with their time? It seems all they’re waiting for is, some public figure did something a bit naughty twenty years ago.

    What the hell is the use of this mighty press that we hear is so essential to democracy? What the fuck are they doing all day?

  4. Unimportant Quibbler

    Ian B is correct, I didn’t hear a word of skepticism expressed. Everything was taken at face value as if the source could be treated as neutral. To give the media their due, they do normally twig (and make clear) when a potentially controversial report has been written by a politically-oriented think-tank, although they rarely clarify the leanings of the think tank in question.

    But they seem to have blindspots by anything written by an academic, or when it’s stamped as “official” (e.g. by the UN, EU, OECD or other international organisation) and assume it must be entirely objective, as if the authors cannot possibly have an agenda.

  5. What bothers me most is that this is a qualitative study – the author (and Ipsos MORI who presumably did the leg work) conducted 21 discussion groups based on a “child rights social ecology perspective” plus some depth interviews. Now, I’ve no quibble with qualitative research – I used to be Planning Director at an Ad Agency – but at least I understand that it proves nothing.

    Sociologists such as Ms Nairn (and despite being a Visiting Prof of Marketing at various top business schools, that’s what she is really) regularly prefer qualitative research as it gives depth and context to the prejudices with which they began the research.

    In this case the researcher is actively sneering of scientific enquiry stating:

    “basic science needs public policy even more than public policy needs basic science”

    There’s a little more analysis on my blog 🙂

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