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Chapter 1

CMN3174 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Epiphenomenon, Consumer Capitalism, Arbitrariness

Course Code
Michael Strangelove

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Chapter 1
Representations, Multiculturalism, and Mass Media
Reality is never experienced directly but always through the cultural
categories made available by a society
Representation – primary ideas in cultural studies
Ethnic and gender stereotyping in mass media
Cultural spheres of meaning are central to human social life and continuous
course of confrontation and contention.
1. Ad deconstruction is the analysis of advertising in such a way as to
reinterpret implied meanings as symbolic rituals of postmodern societies.
Critical reflection on media representations deprives the industry of its
undisputed power.
2. Appearance of events and of material and nonmaterial objects.
3. Dominant producers of mainstream culture – a set of white, male, upper-
middle-class to upper-class, heterosexual ideologies.
Marginalized groups in advertising – women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native
Americans and gays and lesbians
4. Systematic methodology for sociology of advertising:
!Dramaturgy of Goffman, human zoology and visual anthropology of
Desmond Morris, deconstruct nonverbal behaviour or body
o!Facial expressions
o!Body posture
o!Intended gestures
o!Unintended gestures
!Marketing analysis – examining the placement and target audience
of the advertisement in relation to the product or service
!Render artistic composition analysis. Art that offers visual
information to a receiver.
In postmodern image-oriented ads, the visual component is the
main method of conveying meaning.
!Deconstruct the ad as a product of status display and consumer
Tell the story to which the ad alludes
!Decode copy – the verbal or written part of the message
Copy includes – headlines, subheads and all verbal or written

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Evoke the implied message of the ad and distinguish it from its
literal meaning
Advertising is one of the most powerful mechanisms through with members
of a society understand their cultural heritage and cultural ideologies of
Ideology refers to images, concepts, and premises that provide the
frameworks through which we represent, interpret, understand, and try to
understand some point of view of social life.
!The transformation of cultural ideologies is a collective process, not
the result of individual consciousness of violation.
!Advertising is a paid, mass-mediated attempt to persuade.
!An advertisement is a specific message that an organization has
placed to persuade an audience.
o!It is a message that has been called to the attention of a
public audience, especially by paid announcement.
!During the early years of consumer research, ethnic consumers
were all but ignored.
!“Average American” – A label not applied to ethnic minorities.
!Now consumer research has indicated that blacks respond
differently to advertising than whites.
!Advertising allows us to track our sociological history, social
movements, political issues, changing interests and tastes and
scenes of social life as they were lived.
!Advertising is a powerful social force that commands the public’s
attention to, and faith in, a particular style of consciousness and
!The culture of consumption has replaced the culture of contrition.
!Advertising afflicts (bothers) the comfortable and comforts the
afflicted (bothered).
!Advertising has become the dominant culture.
!The shift of domination went from family, community, ethnicity and
religion to industrial society and then to consumer society.

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!Branding – The process of differentiation
!Packaging and brand names distinguish similar products
!Branding seeks to nullify or compensate for the fact that products
are otherwise fundamentally interchangeable.
!Advertising is like holding up two identical photographs and
persuading you that they are different, in fact, that one’s better
than the other.
!Brand extension is introducing goods by adding the familiarity of
a proven brand.
!These stories barely advertise but rather focus on claims to provide
brand products at the lower prices.
!They make their profits by buying and selling in large volumes.
!The average adult consumer is bombarded with at least 500
advertising messages daily.
!We spend more money on advertising than on public education.
!The advertising industry almost exclusively underwrites the mass
media in the United States.
!Advertising is the economic lifeblood of the media.
!Companies that purchase advertising space and time affect to
varying degrees the ideological content of all media forms.
!1970s – boom period for advertising when revenues grew faster
than the overall economy.
!Reasons for the steep decline in advertising spending.:
o!Consumers are exposed to so many ads that they are
conditioned to attend selectively to some ads while ignoring
o!Consumers are remembering fewer ads
!Modernism has been characterized by an ideology that promotes
control over nature and society, and illusion of rational order, the
notion that constant change is inevitable and must be positively
embraced, and increasing division and fragmentation.
!Modernism is dialectical, event paradoxical:
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