Child's play: childhood in the global ethics of consumption
Laura Suski (Vancouver Island University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores how ethical consumption practices of toys produced in the Global South are affected by how we approach childhood as a site of innocence, and how ethical obligations to “our” children may affect moral orientations to distant others.
Paper long abstract:
The rise of fair trade movements and product boycotts underlie the fact that the global connections of production and consumption are sites of ethical practice. Such ethical practices become more important when children are involved as it is often argued that ethical obligations to children involve protection and care. Given the ethical position of children as inherently vulnerable, distant children are often easier targets for the extension of sympathy and care. The proposed paper explores how children function in the daily ethics of consumption, particularly the consumption of toys produced in the Global South. How does the purchase of some toys become unethical? Whose children should be protected? The paper explores the global production and consumption of toys through some specific examples of recalls of toys made in China. Such recalls often make claims to protect children in the Global North against "dangerous" toys produced in the Global South. It will be argued that the consumption practices surrounding children are complex sites of daily ethical practice that are affected by how we approach childhood as a site of innocence and play, and how ethical obligations to community and family may determine moral orientations to distant others. While consumption practices may deeply implicate us in the ethical lives of "our" children, movements to limit or control the consumption of global goods can make our ethical attachments to "distant" children and adults tenuous and selective.
Community, belonging and moral sentiment: is to belong to be a moral person?