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Week 3 Advertising and Society History Consumer Culture

Overview of the growth of consumerism in the 20th Century

Ian Kivelin Davis

on 19 March 2018

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Transcript of Week 3 Advertising and Society History Consumer Culture

History of U.S.
Consumer Culture

Overview of key features
3 Important contributors:
Late 19th century mass Production and surplus: glut of goods requires creation of markets
2. Continuous consumption
1. Production
Economy comes to rely on consumer demand (Keynesian economics)
"systemic Self-perpetuation"
3. Objects take on significance beyond original purpose; all things commodified
economic value is assigned to something not previously considered in economic terms;
What are examples of commodification?
Symbolism of consumption
in Postwar u.s. economy
Kitchen debate: competition between national economic systems expressed through consumer conveniences and comforts
Nixon and Khrushchev, 1959
Problem: Consumption and debt
U.S. Consumer society in full force by 1950
reconversion of industry: cars to tanks to cars
cold war competition became measured by comforts of citizens
*where is saving?
Roots of consumer culture in urbanization:
conspicuous consumption used to demonstrate social position: identity markers
production, continuous consumption, commodification
intimate conversation
raising children
life forms
national defense
Best household conveniences indicated better system economic system
free market consumption vs. central planning economics
What did the Kitchen Debate mean for the cold war?
military industrial complex
war innovations diffuse as consumer goods: plastics, radar, communication devices, home sanitation
"fruits of war": a better tomorrow
American Corporate vision of the future
War Advertising Council
WAC members sold war bonds and their products at once
WAC helped manage household behavior for the war effort
transportation improvements for distribution: markets become anonymous
branding and advertising follow production capacity: Quaker Oats.
socializing among strangers vs. familiarity of agrarian life
consumption becomes symbol system for social communication
obsoletism; fashion; new styles;
saving and thrift undermine economic health of system

self perpetuating machine
interACTIVE DATA: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-debt-statistics-1276.php
The shift from logical
to emotional appeal
What is the logical appeal
in these modern ads?
Mobility: "Get the most out of life"
Ford: "A motorcar for the great multitude"
1919: Social Envy
role of consumption in Cold War (1950s-60s)
the role of the business class
FDR's New Deal as solution to economic problems
Key Terms:
Consumer Culture: an interconnected system of commercially produced images, texts and objects that groups use - through he construction of overlapping and conflicting practices, identities, and meanings - to make collective sense of their environments and to orient their lives
Industrialization: a term that captures the shift from a predominantly agrarian economy (small farmers) to a more industrial economy (mass manufacturing).
Planned Obsolescence: the practice of building an end into a good or service. Goods have built into their design incentives to discard and replace them.
Key terms:
: the conversion of commercial production facilities into wartime manufacturing industries and loss of male workforce.
Ex. Ford assembly lines produce tanks
: the return to peace-time consumer production, the reentry of soldiers into the workforce and introduction of new consumer products
Overproduction became a problem.
consumers had to be created for excess of production
How to sell goods consumers did not order?
commodification refers to the expansion of market trade to previously non-market areas, and to the treatment of things as if they were a tradable commodity
"Mass consumption in postwar American would not be a personal indulgence, but rather a civic responsibility . . ." (Cohen 113).
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