Advertising As An Institution Essay Research Paper

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Advertising As An Institution Essay, Research Paper How Advertising, as an Institution, Helped Create America’s Consumer Culture It is impossible to escape. It is everywhere, and it is omnipresent. It is so ubiquitous that the human mind tends to become immune to it sometimes. The subject in which I am speaking of is advertising. But how does it, as an institution, affect us as consumers? More specifically, how does it affect our consumer culture? In the following essay, a number of factors will be discussed in detail that reflect how each one contributes to how advertising as an institution affects consumer culture in the United States. I think it is most important to first define each of the two key terms in which I am discussing. The first, which is institution, is

defined as ” a humanly designed method of handling certain problems of existence” (text pg. 12). In particular, advertising as an institution is “primarily designed to provide information on economic goods and services, but which now, under the impact of modern conditions, finds broader, noneconomic applications” (text pg.12). Socially, this institution influences our behavior pertaining to roles, and economically it influences where consumers disperse their wealth. The second term that needs to be defined is consumer culture. According to the class text, culture is defined as “the sharing of names – and this includes the sharing of names of material objects” (52). Consumer, in my own terms which pertain to this essay, is defined as a person who buys material

objects in order to fulfill either social, physical, or personal needs. Combining these two terms plainly means that consumer culture is the result of people buying material objects, for any reason, because of sharing names with other people of the same culture. A great example of this comes from the textbook. If an American meets another American while traveling abroad, they do not converse with each other about The Declaration of Independence. Instead they compare Jif and Peter Pan peanut butter in a playful manner (53). After discussing the definitions of these two terms, I think that it is important to now look at the factors that cause these two terms to be related. First is the idea of Transmission versus Ritual views of Communications. The transmission view of

communication “is seen as the transmission of signals or messages over distance for the purpose of control” (on-line class notes). An example of this, in terms of advertising, is that when we see a television commercial for a GMC Yukon, the commercial is intended to control our opinion about the product, and the intended result is for us to go out and purchase one. The Ritual View of Communication, on the other hand, “is the representation of shared beliefs” (online class notes). In other words, according to this view, the GMC commercial is intended to express to the audience cultural values or gender roles. Overall, it has been stated that the transmission view is much more popular than the ritual view. As a consumer, I agree that the transmission view holds more water

than the ritual view. The transmission view is what advertising is all about: having an impact on consumer culture in a way that results in consumers becoming inclined to buy the advertised product. Advertising as an institution has also had an affect on consumer culture on the world views of Tradition, Authority, and Classical Liberalism. In terms of tradition, “one of advertising’s primal messages is a call for change but would seem both alien and threatening when perceived from a world view of tradition” (text pg. 29). From a consumer culture standpoint in the U.S. in present time, the slogan “Change is Good” is heard and seen repeatedly. Tradition is okay to a certain extent, but in our consumer culture, Americans need change from time to time in order to keep our