"Babies Cost Less at Tesco"

Higgins, Matthew and Smith, Warren (2002). "Babies Cost Less at Tesco". Journal of Marketing Management, 18(9-10) pp. 833–856.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1362/0267257012930439


Through research undertaken in several child adoption agencies, the authors examine the ethical consequences of the use of marketing techniques in the child adoption process within England and Wales. Increasingly child adoption organisations and social work professionals are made accountable via the language of customer service and performance measurements. The use of commercial techniques such as marketing is justified on utilitarian grounds. However, any utilisation of marketing within the child adoption process is forced to ensure that the child is not de-centred. Here, the authors argue, there are tensions between the humanitarian project that is child adoption, and the unease produced by viewing the child as human 'product'. The use of marketing in child adoption raises issues related to the objectification and commodification of the child and prospective adopters. Within child adoption it is assumed that we must engage with the child as 'face' (Bauman 1995). But will these assumptions stand the encroachment of marketing techniques into this very sensitive area?

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