Toy Analysis

Assignment: Essay

In order to develop one’s own sociological imagination and gain insight into the social world, C. Wright Mills proposed that people needed to be able to view their own society from the perspective of an outsider. He suggested that our personal/cultural bias often fogged our interpretation of the world and left people misinformed as to the connectedness of personal troubles to the structural conditions of society.

For this assignment students will visit a local toy store (or online) and analyze specific toys using their sociological imaginations. Students will need to think critically about the powerful messages that marketers are trying to deliver. You will start by looking and photographing toys that you believe would be useful for the assignment, consider concepts such as gender, sexuality, race, class, family roles, and other sociological related ideas. Please include photos in your post.

Questions to consider for the analysis:

What group is this toy being marketed to? Are different marketing strategies used for different groups? (Gender, race, class, etc.) Might these strategies be offensive to certain populations? Does the toy reinforce or violate norms? What is the basis for the differences? Also consider the placement of the toy in the store, colors, sizes, textures, and other aesthetics.

What other ideas are being represented? (Love, marriage, sex, hetero-normality, family, social roles, youth, beauty, violence, dominance, status, etc.) How do they relate to terms in your book and ideas discussed in class? Feel to do some additional research as well. (Use the Chapter on Socialization, Gender, and Race for reference.)

How do these toys relate to the roles children will play as they age through the life course? How might these messages dictate the social positions people will take? How do they relate to ideas of social structure, socialization, and inequality?

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