On Friday 3rd May, 2013, the University of Sussex hosted a research dissemination event relating to the research of the Leverhulme funded project on ‘Consumer Culture and Children’s Well-being’, led by Dr Helga Dittmar and Professor Robin Banerjee. The event allowed the research team to share their exciting findings with interested professionals, and also identified ways of bridging the gap between academic research and applied areas of practice and policy.
The Children’s Consumer Culture Project has been gathering data for the past three years on the links between children’s engagement with and endorsement of consumer culture and their well-being, with measures incorporating physical health, subjective well-being, depression and body esteem. The conference aimed to share the research beyond the traditional academic community, and although we had numerous high profile academics, such as Tim Kasser, Agnes Nairn, and Greg Maio in attendance, we also had representatives from local schools, educational psychology services, clinical psychologists, and other service providers and policymakers .
The event was opened by an inspiring and vibrant speech from Caroline Lucas MP (Brighton Pavilion), who set the research project in a broader socio-political context. She focused on three key points of policy, relating to: a) advertising aimed at primary school-aged children; b) objectification of women in the media and the need for improved whole-school strategies concerning gender and relationships; and c) environmental impacts of consumption. Her thoughtful address provided the perfect introduction to the event, resonating with many of the issues that emerged as key parts of our discussion over the course of the day.