Advertising and Society

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Advertising and Society
Advertising is said to be like glue that holds cultures together. It allows us to share a common experience incorporated by brands, images, logos, and even silly jingles. We define who we are by what we buy and wear because we know that others judge us by what we buy and wear. And advertising influences those judgments. Today because of advertisements conditioning and trendsetting, judgments are made on what clothes people wear, what shampoo and kitchen cleaner they use, not on whom we really are. This leads to a certain degree of social discrimination and emotional insecurity especially in younger population. In advertising, socio-cultural dimensions came in 1920’s. Agencies and publicists no longer sought only to convey objective facts about the products but they also link products with a lifestyle, permeate them with glamour and prestige, and persuade consumers that purchasing an item could be, as historian Alan Brinkley describes it, “a personally fulfilling and enriching experience.”(Alan Brinkley, 1991; 648.)

Historical background:
If we recall the history of advertising the first thing that came into our mind is the old papyrus from Thebes dating back about 3000 years ago. History of English society showed that the spread of information in an organized way began with the development of newspaper. Newspaper started carrying advertisement in mid 1600’s.The industrial revolution in 19th century resulted in great commercial growth and provided a great support to advertising. With the development of the technology after the Second World War many changes took place in advertising. As more and more advanced systems got introduced, they changed the whole scenario of the society. Although these developments in advertising are of great value but on the other hand they also generated huge criticism. The aim of advertising in society is to sell the goods in a particular kind of economy. It is because of advertising which is a major form of modern social communication that one can understand his society in new ways.

In this chapter on advertising and society, the author aimed to examine different critiques and key concepts related to advertising and its impact on society. To support his argument author used different theories and researches that supports or negates advertising’s impact in relation to society. The main approaches that the author discussed in the chapter are pluralistic positions, Neo Marxist positions and cultural critiques. According to author the pluralistic positions focused on the usefulness of consumptions and options available for the consumers and the economy. Neo-Marxist views argued that advertising flatters to deceive. It undermines use value into exchange value. Its representations incorporate the meanings of the dominant ideology. On the other hand cultural approach emphasized on the harmful effects of commodifications. To discuss about the main critiques that he took in order to fulfill his objective the author examined studies by different researchers about these approaches. The first study mentioned was by Sinclair who saw the critiques in terms of an opposition between optimistic and pessimistic views. According to Optimistic view advertising is used as a tool for functioning of economy while pessimistic saw the advertising in relation to economy as a destruction of social and cultural values. To further support his argument two more important perspectives were discussed in the chapter i.e., Capitalist pluralism and political economy Theory. Capitalist pluralism argued that advertising is an optimistic tool for providing information about goods and services where as Political economist regard advertising as working tool under the power of media institution or in other words media monopoly. These perspectives of capitalistic pluralism and political economy were further discussed by Doyle in 2002 who pointed out that there exist a strong...
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