Daniel Thomas Cook, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Childhood Studies 
Department of Childhood Studies 
Rutgers University-Camden
329 Cooper Street – Room 116
Camden, NJ 08102

(856) 225-2816

Dr. Cook’s work focuses on moral configurations of childhood and the child vis-à-vis commercial and economic cultural fields. In particular, he explores the various ways in which tensions between “the child” and “the market” play themselves out in various sites of children’s consumer culture, such as advertising, food, rituals, clothing and media.

He is the author of The Moral Project of Childhood: Motherhood, Material Life and Early Children’s Consumer Culture (2020, NYU Press) and The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer (2004, Duke University Press). The  SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies, a four-volume, 1.1 million word reference work was published in 2020 under Cook’s editorship. A field-defining and field-coalescing work, the Encyclopedia is composed of just under 600 entries on a wide range of topics written by seasoned and emerging scholars and practitioners. Along with Spyros Spyrou (European University, Cyprus) and Rachel Rosen (University College London), Cook co-edited Reimagining childhood Studies (2019, Bloomsbury Press), in which contributors rethink the parameters of key arenas of the field in an effort to chart new directions. Cook also is co-editor of Children and Armed Conflict (2011, Palgrave), along with John Wall and is sole editor of Symbolic Childhood (2002, Peter Lang) and The Lived Experiences of Public Consumption (2008, Palgrave).  He is also the founding Chair of the Section on the Sociology of Consumers and Consumption of the American Sociological Association and serves on numerous editorial boards of journal and scientific committees of international scholarly organizations.

Ongoing research includes work on photography, memory and childhood, a study of how children’s market research professionals (e.g., marketers, market researchers, digital developers) and others in the “kids’ space” conceptualize their practices in relation to deployed notions of childhood and the current troubling of notions of childhood innocence.


Ph.D. in Sociology (1998) – University of Chicago

M.A. in Communication (1988) – University of Pennsylvannia

B.A. in Individual Plans of Study (1983) – University of Illinois

Research Interests: 
Youth and Childhood; Consumption and Media; Qualitative Methods; Cultural Sociology; Urban Sociology

Courses Taught: at Rutgers-Camden:
Graduate:  Proseminar in Childhood Studies, Interpretive Research Methods, Seminar in Play and Play Theory
Undergraduate:  Introduction to Childhood Studies, Children in Consumer Culture, Senior Seminar in Childhood Studies

View full CV HERE



        The Moral Project of Childhood: Motherhood, Material Life, and Early Children’s Consumer Culture, New York:          New York University Press, 2020

The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Edited Works:

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies. Sage; London, 2020

        (with Spyros Spyrou and Rachel Rosen) Reimagining Childhood Studies. London:Bloomsbury, 2019

(with J. Michael Ryan). The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2015.

(with John Wall) Children and Armed Conflict: Cross-Disciplinary Investigations. Houndmills: Macmillan-Palgrave, 2011.

Lived Experiences of Public Consumption. Houndmills: Macmillan-Palgrave, 2008.

Symbolic Childhood. New York: Peter Lang, 2002. 


2016 “Disrupting Play: A Cautionary tale.”  Editorial.  Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research.  Vol. 23, No. 1.  3-6.

2014 “Moral Order and Moral Ordering in Public Advice about American Children’s Rooms, 1876-1909.” Stranae: recherches sur les livres et lest objects culturels de l’enfance.

2012 “Children and Consumer Culture.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Childhood Studies. Ed. Heather Montgomery. New York: Oxford University Press.
Chapters in Books

2014 “Whose Play? Children, Play and Consumption.” Sage Handbook on Play and Learning in Early Childhood. Liz Brooker, Mindy Blaise and Suzy Edwards (eds.). London: Chapter 23.

2013 La notion de ‘culture’ dans la culture de la consommation des enfants” (“The notion of ‘culture’ in children’s consumer culture”). Pp. 21-122 in L’Enfant et sees cultures: Approaches internationals, Sylvie October and Régine Sirota (eds). Paris: Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication.

2013 “Children and Consumption: History and Historiography.” The Routledge History of Childhood in the Western World, Paul Fass (ed.). London and New York: Routledge.  283-295. 


Co-editor, Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 2008-present.

Guest Editor, Special Issue on “Producing Motherhoods In/Through Consumption,”  Journal of Consumer Culture, 12(2) July 2013.

Founding Editorial Board Member, Oxford Bibliographies Online: Childhood Studies. Oxford University Press. 

Keynote Presentations

2017 “Play, agency and creativity and other complicities in childhood studies.”  Keynote Presentation for the “Conceptualizing Childhood and Youth” conference, Brock University, St Catherine’s, Ontario Canada, October.

2015 “The Annoying Persistence and Insistence of the Child Consumer.” Keynote Presentation for the “Theory and Method in Child and Youth Research,” 3rd International Conference of the International Children and Youth Research Network, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus (June).

2014 “Disrupting Play.” Invited Plenary Panel. Fun with Dick and Jane conference, Department of Women’s Studies, Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana (December).

2013 “Moral Order and Moral Ordering in Public Advice about American Children’s Rooms, 1876-1909.” The Child’s Room as a Cultural Microcosm International Conference, Musée National de l’Éducation, Rouen, France (April).

2012 “The Moral Project of the Child Consumer.” Keynote Address, Child and Teen Consumption, UILM, Milan, Italy (December).

Media Appearances

Video interview about his book, “The Moral Project of Childhood” for the Society for the History of Children and Youth, 2022. 

Quoted in “How to Talk to Your Kids About All That Stuff They Want” by Carey Wallace, December 14, 2015, Time magazine

Quoted in “How Parents Could Be Sending The Wrong Message With Elf On The Shelf” by Rebecca Adams, December 17, 2014, Huffington Post.

Quoted in “Here’s how much you can expect to spend on gifts, and some expert advice on avoiding after-sale remorse” by Lois Collins, November 27, 2014, Deseret News.

Quoted in “Kids Like Being Kids, Study Finds, Perhaps Thanks to Parenting” by Emily Alpert, July 21, 2013. Los Angeles Times.

View full CV HERE