Allison Pugh, University of Virginia, for Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children and Consumer Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press (2009).
Pugh's book is based on a multi-year ethnography in schools and homes covering a range of socio-economic contexts. She finds that children's desires for goods are driven as much by a desire to "belong" as susceptibility to advertising or a desire for status. She finds that parents similarly prioritize buying these goods for children, even when finances are strained, because they emphasize with their children's fear of standing out as different from their peers. We had many strong nominations this year, but the committee felt that Pugh stood out as hitting all the criteria we used in our evaluations. Her book was theoretically grounded, well executed, and an easy read. It made a direct contribution to the sub-discipline of children and childhood. And, it had clear policy relevance, and made us think in new ways about consumerism.
Section on Children and Youth