Advertising Readerships: Psychosocial Change in Britain 1950 -1995

PhD Thesis

MacRury, lain 2000. Advertising Readerships: Psychosocial Change in Britain 1950 -1995. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Law and Social Sciences
AuthorsMacRury, lain
TypePhD Thesis

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

KeywordsPsychosocial experience; Changing consumer cultures; Advertisements
Publication dates
PrintMay 2000
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Sep 2013
Additional information

This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.

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