Communication and Culture | Advertising and Consumer Culture
C315 | 2985 | Mark Deuze

Professor:  Mark Deuze
Office:  Mottier Hall room 108 and Ernie Pyle Hale 141
Office Hours:  directly after class, otherwise please e-mail first.
Phone:  856-1901

Polish social theorist Zygmunt Bauman has argued (in 2000) that
shopping is a daily rite of exorcism: ¡§the shopping compulsion-
turned-into-addiction is an uphill struggle against acute
uncertainty and the annoying, stultifying feeling of insecurity¡¨
(in: Liquid Modernity, p.81). Advertising prays on our insecurities,
uncertainties and anxieties by presenting products as instant
solutions for everyday problems. Advertisements tell us how to look,
how to dress, what to eat, what to wear, where to go and whom to be
in order to be successful, happy and special. And we like it! We
decorate our clothes with brands and logos (referring to products
like shoes, bands, political parties or causes, movies and
moviestars, universities, etc.) to express our individuality while
at the same time signifying what group(s) we belong to. Indeed,
today our products, brands and logos represent certain lifestyle and
identity choices without which we cannot seem to function anymore.
For example: the lead character in the movie Fight Club at one point
argues that his IKEA furniture defines him. Without it, he is

The logo-driven shopping mindset not only influences our behavior as
consumers, it has also transformed us as citizens. We wear ¡¥Rock the
Vote¡¦ t-shirts without registering to vote just because it looks
cool. We watch The Daily Show every night without having the
faintest idea what the politicians who are made fun of represent. We
force presidential candidates to sell themselves as types of
shampoo, because otherwise we could not care less about what they
are saying. We have made cable television news a joke, as we rather
watch sitcoms that are produced solely to sell us as audiences to
advertisers instead of finding out what is happening to the world.

In this course we are going to explore how we got this far, who we
can blame, and what we can do about it. We will read up on the
history of advertising and consumer culture, and we will find out
what is going on now around the world to counter some of the trends
that have emerged out of the 20th century. Yet we will also discover
why shopping and consuming can be so much fun, how advertising
works, and what to do in order to be successful with your
advertising campaign. Ultimately we will investigate what all of
this means for contemporary society in terms of its consumer culture
and democracy.

„o	Course will be conducted as a lecture in combination with in-
class discussions and student presentations, and attendance will be
taken daily.
„o	Books for this course will include Naomi Klein¡¦s ¡§No Logo¡¨
„o	Assignments will include three papers of approximately 6
pages in length as well as an online case study.
„o	Further information about the course can be obtained from
the instructor.