"Captains of Consciousness: Advertising
and the Social Roots of Consumer Culture"
Stuart Ewen, Mc-Graw-Hill,
The Creation of the "Consumer Culture"
- Demands of an expanding industrial
system in the early days of the 20th Century
- The technology of communication
- The need to reshape the mentality
of the heterogeneous cultural segments of U.S. society
- Working class resistance
- "...advertising was to develop
as a tool of social order whose self-espoused purpose was the 'nullification'
of the 'customs of ages; [to]...break down the barriers of individual habits.'
It defined itself as 'at once the destroyer and creator in the process of
the ever-evolving new..."
- "The development of an ideology
of consumption responded both to the issue of social control and the need
for goods distribution."
- "Shorter hours and higher wages
were seen as a first step in a broader offensive against the notions of thrift
and an attempt to habituate a national population to the exigencies of mass
productions...Now priorities demanded that the worker spend his wages and
leisure time on the consumer market."
- "While agreeing that 'human nature
is more difficult to control than material culture.' ad men spoke in specific
terms of 'human instincts' which if properly understood could induce people
'to buy a given product if it was scientifically presented. If advertising
copy could appeal to the right instincts, the urge to buy would surely be
- "...'advertising helps keep the
masses dissatisfied with their mode of life, discontented with ugly things
around them. Satisfied customers are not as profitable as discontented ones.'"
This is not a "conspiracy" theory,
but an analysis of the "natural" development of a mode of thinking- dominant
ideology- which represented the interests of the new, emerging dominant class
of industrialists. The advertising industry saw itself as providing a necessary
and vital integrative function that would propel America into the 20th Century.
to the Lecture
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008 9:27 AM