Training the Child Consumer: Play, Toys and Learning to Shop in 18th-Century Britain

Serena Dyer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


As consumers-in-training, active engagement with financial and material tasks were key didactic tools for eighteenth-century children. The expanding and tempting world of goods, which rose to ever-increasing prominence in the eighteenth century, brought with it a threat of moral decay, material decadence, and financial ruin. The importance of arming children in order to resist the allure of the commercial world was an issue of great importance to pedagogical writers such as Locke and Edgeworth, and was recognised as an appealing selling point by publishers such as Newbery and the Fullers. The didactic materials produced to promote the training of children to be economically literate, rational consumers were utilised with varying degrees of success. However, the material training of children to understand where things came from and how they were made was prevalent both in pedagogical literature, and in the practice of children making clothing for their dolls. This self-conscious development of children’s knowledge of the material world and consumer goods through unmaking and making aimed to promote restraint, and an understanding of the value of things.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildhood by Design
Subtitle of host publicationToys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700-present
EditorsMegan Brandow-Faller
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781501332043
ISBN (Print)9781501332029
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2019


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