In a little Parisian toy shop, of which the city has almost 800, there are toys so beautiful that it takes my breath away. Wow. I am transfixed by the elegance of the designs – more art than toy, almost. It suggests that children play differently in France, and thus grow up generally to be more gentle and refined, perhaps?
These beautiful French toys are to be played with gently, treasured by parents, and perhaps by the children, as well? Certainly they are meant to be passed down to succeeding generations. Even the displays in the toy shops are elegant, artistic even.
How do toys differ from country to country, I would like to know. How do they differ from culture to culture, and how do these toys promulgate cultural mores and distinctions? How does toy culture differ from Germany to France to Italy? How do these countries' cultures differ, if that may be dispassionately ascertained? How do different cultures influence the toys enjoyed within them, and how do those resulting toys influence and sustain the respective cultures, reciprocally?
We here in the US have specialty toy stores that differ considerably from mass-market toy venues, and we may fairly generalize that more affluent consumers purchase disproportionately from these specialty stores. In fact, one could say that the more affluent the consumer, the greater percentage of toys that are purchased from such specialty toy stores, while many consumers from lower socio-economic brackets purchase the preponderance of their toys from mass market and second hand outlets.
How do these toy choices affect the children of these higher and lower economic strata and affect and influence them as adults? Do the toys these children play with perpetuate the key differences that affect those children as adults in each demographic?
Do toys promote the status quo? I wonder.