m98mc week 2 advertising and consumer culture
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M98MC Week 2 Advertising and Consumer Culture. The 1980s and Beyond John Keenan [email protected] Campaign Details. In groups. Theory check-up. Read Understains Words in Ads Freedom Captains of Consciousness Decoding Advertisements Watch

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theory check up
Theory check-up


  • Understains
  • Words in Ads
  • Freedom
  • Captains of Consciousness
  • Decoding Advertisements


Century of the Self and Ways of Seeing

next week
Next week
  • Group work at 2.30pm
  • Lecture starts at 3pm
  • Individual tutorials throughout the second part of the session next week
  • 19th Century
  • 1950s – birth of consumer culture
  • 1980s – consumer culture takes over
  • Lifestyles
  • Hedonism
  • Commodification
  • Postmodernism 1 – the break-up of the sign


The Nineteenth Century



Uprooted mass


Richard Hoggart

“an all-pervading culture”

Read: The Uses of Literature


You’ve never had it so good (Harold MacMillan, UK prime-minister)

Goldthorpe et al, 1968-9

The Affluent Worker


The 1980s

  • Key ideas
  • Culture
  • Thatcherism (UK) Reagan (US)
  • Lifestyles
  • Hedonism
  • Display
  • Individualism
  • extravagance


Gold Blend


Lifestyles in Advertising

Read: David Gauntlett



‘modern hedonism is characterized by a longing to experience in reality those pleasures created or enjoyed in the imagination, a longing which results in the ceaseless consumption of novelty’

Lury, 1997: 73

Read: Lead us into temptation



‘People now work...not just to stay alive, but in order to be able to afford to buy consumer products. The goods which are advertised serve as goals and rewards for working... consumption has taken off into an almost ethereal, or hyper-real, symbolic level so that it is the idea of purchasing as much as the act of purchasing which operates as a motivation for many in doing paid work’

Bocock, 1995: 50

Why else would you work?


Postmodernism 1 – sign not goods consumption

‘the game of sign consumption is an integral part of the ‘society of the spectacle’

Lury, 1997: 69


‘all needs are socially created’

Lury, 1997: 68

‘the logic of production is no longer paramount; instead the logic of signification is all-important’

Lury, 1997: 69


Postmodern Consumption 2 - knowing

‘The audience is increasingly made up of a media-literate generation, its members, rather than seeking the truth, in turn self-consciously mimic the media – they adopt the persona of fictional characters as a way of expressing themselves, they discuss their personal lives as analogies with the story-lines of soap-operas, and talk in catch-phrases of celebrities and the slogans of advertising campaigns. They know when they’ve been Tango-ed’

Lury, 1997: 70

‘it makes no sense to criticize people for being insufficiently materialistic; instead, we should submit to the magic of advertising as a playful code’

Lury, 1997: 71


Postmodern Consumption 3 – fluid signified

‘Objects are no longer related to in terms of their practical utility, but instead have become empty signifiers of an increasing number of constantly changing meanings. There is an overproduction of signs and a loss of referents’

Lury, 1997: 71


Postmodern Consumption 4 – the consumed individual

‘Rather than people using objects to express differences between themselves... people have become merely the vehicles for expressing the differences between objects’

Lury, 1997: 71


Postmodern Consumption 5 - hyperreality

‘the final triumph of capitalism...meaning is a sham...reality flickers like a television screen’

Lury, 1997: 71