Objects of Affection: Producing and Consuming Toys and Childhood in Canada, 1840-1989
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This thesis examines the significance of toy production, distribution, marketing and consumption to Canadian understandings of childhood. Drawing on Patrick J. Ryan’s concept of the discursive landscape of modern childhood and Daniel Thomas Cook’s commercial persona of the child consumer, it explores the effect of toy controversies on a number of social, political and economic issues between the arrival of manufactured toys in Canada in the mid-nineteenth century and the rise of postindustrial capitalism. The toy industry, the social sciences, consumer activists and the Canadian state all played a pivotal role in raising the social significance attached to toy consumption. In the end, debates about toys highlighted popular manifestations of complex political and social issues by placing children and their material culture at the symbolic centre of “adult” conflicts.