Tension between Social Classes in America and Its Effect on Advertisements

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Working class Pages: 3 (1220 words) Published: April 25, 2005
It is believed that there is a tension between social classes in America. Typically, people of lower classes choose to imitate those of higher social status. As a result, advertisers have a tendency to take advantage of this tension in order to profit from people of the lower and middle classes. In "The American Upper Class," G. William Domhoff says that "exhibiting high social status… is a way of exercising power" (Domhoff p.34)," which is something important to all social classes. According to Judi Puritz Cook, author of "Consumer Culture…Sales Discourse," advertisements in print as well as in visual media seem to create "the promise of status mobility through consumption (Cook p.373)." In the article, Puritz explains how television programs on channels such as the Home Shopping Network are examples of how the media exploits the anxiety caused by social standing. It is believed that American people in the lower and middle classes have needs for status mobility. For example, when browsing through a fashion magazine, one can find numerous sections that are dedicated to creating ways to look like the featured model or actress for half the price. The intention of the article, in most cases, is to give others the impression that you are of high social status. In addition, advertisers often use people in the entertainment business to model their products so that the viewer may purchase the product. For example, when mimicking the purchases of hotel heiress, Paris Hilton one may believe, "If I buy this, I'll look cool just like Paris Hilton!" The fact that this method is usually successful is a product of the anxiety felt by lower and middle class families. For those reasons, it is likely that Domhoff's statement that the upper class "creates respect, envy, and deference in others," is true. It seems that many of America's lower and middle class families would like to create those same feelings of respect and envy in others. When flipping through Vogue, a...

Cited: Cook, Judi Puritz. "Consumer Culture
" Mass Communication and Society
3.4 (2000): 373-392.
Domhoff, G. William. "The American Upper Class." Great Divides: readings in social
inequality in the United States 2nd edition (2001): 159-167.
Mantsios, Gregory. "Class in America: myths and realities." Privilege (2003) 33-47.
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