|Abstract. This research was performed to determine if consumer culture is gendered and typed as masculine or feminine, and how consumer goods as agents of socialization define and shape gender expectations. By observing, taking field notes, and performing content analysis of birthday greeting cards for boys and girls at a large international retailer, I came to several conclusions.
One, consumer culture is indeed gendered masculine and feminine. The birthday cards are divided into sections based on gender. Further the layout of the sections, as well as colors, textures, font styles, characters, songs, and phrases on the cards, clearly demonstrate gender typing. Cards dominated by dark, vibrant colors, male superheroes, action characters, sports, and strong, robust phrases are marketed for young males. Cards marketed for young females are dominated by pastel colors, princesses, glitter, cute animals, and dainty phrases. There are few cards that challenged traditional gender beliefs.
Another conclusion from these observations is that greeting card companies are effective socializing groups that help to solidify what is socially acceptable to market towards males and females. These cards also play into schema theory and help children to develop their own schema for each gender based on their surroundings. By giving, receiving, and viewing these gendered cards, ideas of masculinity and femininity are actively developed and reinforced.
Birthday cards provide an easy agent of consumer culture to strengthen gender perception and appropriateness at an early age that carries through adolescence into adulthood.