Literature Review of Jane Pavitt’s, The Camberwell Collection of applied arts, Camberwell College of Arts, The London Institute (1997)
By Nadia Ramnarine
Literature Review for Chapter 3 – Promoting Play: A Consistent Message for 100 Years, from They Came to Play: 100 Years of the Toy Industry Association by Christopher Byrne.
By Ellie Honeyman
In 1916, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) was founded, its intentions being to provide educational and industry resources for its toy manufacturing members, the number of which now exceeds 800. In the midst of World War I, local economies suffered, and toy companies on the brink of collapse began to market their products with an emphasis on their education and pedagogical value of play. However, given the urgency of profit generation, little scientific research was taking place to support the claims toy producers were making. In response, the TIA was formed to ensure that toy producers were stimulating profits, whilst maintaining their academic and ethical integrity.
The text at hand recalls the history of the TIA, as well as its implications for toy producers and the wider economy. Most interestingly, Byrne investigates the extent to which toy producers brand their products as educational, seeking the attention of mothers, the most frequent consumer of toys. Whilst childhood was once a stage of life to be rushed through quickly so children could join the labour market, promotion of play from toy manufacturers emphasised the vital nature of play for a child’s development, an idea that appealed to caring mothers. Throughout the early 20th century, many toys were advertised in ‘women’s columns’ of magazines, retailers were trained to recall the educational value of their products, and later TV adverts emphasised the importance of toys until playtime and education were accepted as inextricably linked components of childhood.
The necessary introduction of an external entity to the toy industry raises questions in regard to the true intentions of toy producers. If no scientific research is taking place internally in regard to the educational benefits of play, yet companies are happy to make these claims, we can question the extent to which companies truly care about the ethical intentions they claim to have. We can also question what type of education toys of this nature provide for children. Whether play itself is in fact vital to development is irrelevant when we consider the consumerist norms this system introduces to children. From an early age, this system assures children that in order to learn/be educated, one must consume. The objects and artworks within the Playtime.Commodity exhibition investigate these questions further, challenging the extent to which toy companies care for educating children, or whether their ethical aims have been corrupted by the prospect of profit maximisation.
Byrne, Christopher, and Byrne, Christopher. They Came to Play: 100 Years of the Toy Industry Association. United States, Toph Welch Graphic Design.
By Tianyi Zhu
Literature Review for Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto by Legacy Russell
By Qi Qi
Although many consider the Web has a neutral context, curator and writer Legacy Russell has argued that the online, digital space, and the offline world are deeply intertwined – that the online realm is as real as the AFK (away from keyboard) reality.
In Glitch Feminism, Russell uses the digital glitch as a metaphor to propose a productive refusal to the existing dualistic norms and data surveillance in capitalist society. By embracing the ‘glitch’, Russell envisions a feminist, queer, and anti-racist cyberspace where definitions of embodiment can be expanded and the existing binary, heteropatriarchal norms can be re-constructed.
Russell exposes the neoliberal and capitalist thinking associated with the binary of gender, which enables a person to be marketed based on embodiment. She continues to question the surveillance of capitalist society, and the danger of such scrutiny towards the non-normative or non-conforming individuals. As such, neoliberal and capitalistic values have gradually expanded into the virtual space, the lines between reality and the Web are not defined but rather dissolving. Hence, digital and online cultures are never neutral but rather political.
To challenge the restrictions of embodiment, which in this case is the physical ‘identity’ one has in the offline world, is to dismiss the dualistic binary gender social constructs imposed upon bodies. Despite the fact that excessive consumption and surveillance have been broached within the online space, Russell suggests that the complexity of Internet technology and its malfunction allow other ways of being and ‘worlding’ beyond the status quo: one can choose the body/embodiment, rearranging in the spaces of the so-called in-between – a queer futurity and subversion of heteropatriarchal norms. Russell sees the potential of the Internet to liberate one from physical restrictions and to act beyond physical, social, and technological limits.
Russell’s understanding of the great potential between digital technology, intersectionality, and data capitalism inspires curators of the exhibition Playtime.Commodity to consider how curating online can challenge the various social constructs of the contemporary capitalist society.
Russell, L., 2020. Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto. London: Verso.
Russell, L., 2022.#GLITCHFEMINISM – Legacy Russell.[online] www.legacyrussell.com/GLITCHFEMINISM> [Accessed 15 June 2022].
A short review of Jean Baudrillard’s the Consumer Society
By Yilin Wang
Baudrillard’s book “Consumer Society” is a great contribution to contemporary sociology, in which he analyzed the phenomenon of the consumption of goods in contemporary Western society, especially the American society.
Consumption as the new tribal myth, consumption has become the fashion of today’s society, it is destroying the foundation of mankind. His unique insight reveals how large technocratic organizations create new social hierarchies that replace old class distinctions. It is easy to see from the book that his theory was also influenced by other scholars, such as Baudrillard’s mentor Lefebvre’s theory of “bureaucratic society controlled by consumption”. He believed that with the development of capitalism, the ideology of production and the meaning of creative behavior had become the ideology of consumption. Bulgares argues that we live in a “society of plenty”; De Boer, who had a great influence on Baudrillard, believed from a deeper level that consumption created a “society of wireless accumulation of landscape”. Risman, baudrillard’s contemporary theorist, believed that capitalism was undergoing a revolution of “transition from the age of production to the age of consumption”. These theorists from different perspectives on the same social form of discourse baudrillard had a profound impact.
First, understand the problems in consumer society
In the book, Baudrillard points out that the core problems in consumer society are as follows: 1. To explain the code control of consumer relations through the implied meaning chain between consumer goods. 2. Explain the compulsion drive without motive in consumption phenomenon through the deep situational control of advertisement on the desire of others. 3. On the basis of mass media’s interpretation of a large number of symbols in the real society and denial of reality, the consumption relationship has shifted from material to human (that is, the use value has been replaced by the symbolic value), and the production society has been replaced by the consumer society.
The Association between Gender Stereotype and Gender-Specific Toy
By Yuejun Li
Literature Review of Barbie: The Bitch Can Buy Anything, Shirley R. Steinberg
By Xihui Wen