The child star is an iconic figure in Western society representing a growing cultural trend which idolises, castigates and fetishises the image of the perfect, incent and beautiful child. In this book, Jane O'Conr explores the paradoxical status of the child star who is both adored and reviled in contemporary society. Drawing on current debates about the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood and fears about children 'growing up too soon', she identifies hostile media attention around child stars as indicative of broader social concerns about the 'correct' role and place of children in relation to rmative ideals of childhood. Through reference to extensive empirical examples of the way child stars such as Shirley Temple, Macaulay Culkin, Charlotte Church and Jackie Coogan have been constructed in the media, this book illustrates both the powerlessness and the power held by this tiny band of children, and demonstrates their significance as representatives of the public face of childhood throughout the twentieth century and beyond.
Dr. Jane O'Connor is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Wolverhampton University. She has a BSc in Applied Psychology and Sociology, a Masters degree in Sociology of Contemporary Culture and a PhD in Childhood Studies from Brunel University. She writes extensively in the area of Sociology of Childhood and is presently involved in a major research project investigating cultural differences in children's conceptions of cleverness.