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Title: Advertising readerships : psychosocial change in Britain 1950-1995
Author: MacRury, Iain
ISNI:       0000 0000 7982 9153
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis uses the content analysis of a large sample of advertisements to trace a narrative of changing self experience in post-war consumer culture. The thesis challenges the tendency in cultural studies of advertising to see texts solely as a record of advertisers' commercial intentions. It questions the assumption that advertising secures producers' control of the symbolic economy. As a complement to such 'producer narratives' the thesis presents a 'narrative of readerships'. This traces changes and continuities in readers' orientations to objects of consumption in the period. A detailed examination of the theoretical underpinnings of critical approaches to advertising leads to the proposal of an alternative to the models of reception evident in text based studies. This alternative model draws on object relations psychoanalysis. The thesis asserts the value of the close empirical study of advertising texts. This provides evidence to counter both negative and positive generalisations about advertisements as 'creativity 1 or manipulation. The thesis proposes instead that advertising serves a range of commercial, practical, aesthetic and social communicative functions. The thesis questions the validity of analyses of advertising textualities in the 'diagnosis' of pathologies of the self and culture, suggesting that the ascription of such pathologies depends upon an inadequate model of reception. The thesis sets out an account of psychosocial change binding an analysis of disruptions to sociologically conceived trajectories to an account of an increasing prevalence of anxiety in psychosocial experience. Advertising, seen in the light of these disruptions to cultural inheritance is presented as an increasingly important communicative mode because of its contribution to a symbolically rich cultural environment which can facilitate 'identity work'. The thesis presents evidence for a continuing preoccupation amongst consumers with function and practicality. This finding is explored as evidence, not only of a persistent strand of consumer rationality, but as an indicator of an emerging new orientation to materiality in culture. The thesis proposes that totalising narratives, either optimistic or pessimistic, about the cultural experience of consumption are suspect. A more complex and variegated account is more likely to capture the consumer experiences The thesis suggests the necessity for close empirical analysis of changing consumer cultures as a counter to overarching narratives of cultural change
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Post-war consumer culture; Marketing Literature Mass media Performing arts Psychology Sociology Human services