Communication and Culture | Advertising and Consumer Culture
C315 | ALL | --


MW, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, Location: TBA (#29755)
TuTh, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, BH 134 (#29756)

Fulfills College S&H Requirement

Instructor: TBA

We like to tell ourselves that we purchase consumer goods simply
because they're useful; they fill certain needs in our lives.
Clothes keep us warm and appropriately attired.  Cars transport us
to work or to classes.  Computers allow us to write papers and
conduct research.  But at some level we also realize that we live in
a world in which the consumer goods that we purchase speak volumes
about who we are, what groups we belong to, and what we aspire to
become.  Do you shop for clothes at Abercrombie & Fitch or at Wal-
Mart?  Do you actually drive your SUV over rugged terrain or, like
most of us, use it simply to get around town?  Are you a Windows
person or a Mac person?  The answers to these questions are
meaningful: our choices help us craft a social identity, one that is
recognizable -- shared by people "like us," but not by those who are
different.

The consumption of goods and services plays a crucial role in the
American economy, but consumer culture is more than the sum of the
things that we own.  Whether we're in public or in the privacy of
our homes, strolling across campus or watching television, we're
enveloped by advertising.  It's the world we inhabit today—one where
it seems normal to be addressed as a potential consumer in virtually
every waking moment of our lives, where we happily turn ourselves
into living advertisements by wearing clothes that announce the
brands that we buy.

The goal of this course is to make us more aware of how advertising
operates in society and how we live within consumer culture.  What
are the goals of the advertising industry?  What information, ideas,
and values are communicated in advertising?   What role does
advertising play in television, movies, and magazines?   How do
manufacturers and retailers create "brand-name" products, and why do
we care about these brands?  What do advertisers know about
consumers?  Are we, as consumers, manipulated by advertising or do
we make independent decisions about what to purchase?  Is it
possible to live in the modern world without adopting the values of
consumer culture?  Is it possible to resist the constant messages
that tell us "you are what you buy”?  Should we maintain certain
spaces in society that are free of advertising and commercial
messages?