This course is about advertisements and their producers: what happens behind the scenes to create them, how they are deployed, and what they tell us about the social groups constructing and consuming them. By drawing on a wide range of studies and disciplines, the course surveys the history of advertising, focusing primarily though not exclusively on the United States, and investigates the changing strategies that have been used by advertisers from the 19th to the 21st centuries. It does so by approaching advertisements as texts that can be understood through semiotic analysis and the advertising industry as a relatively autonomous social field whose structure and dynamics can be looked at through a sociological lens. The course will provide a cultural approach to the study of advertising and its history as a means to understand advertising and branding as central components in capitalist economies and indicators of cultural attitudes and ideologies. It will also examine how advertising texts and producers represent various social identities: gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion and more. The latter section of the course investigates what kind of impact advertising has in shaping social trends, style and changing consumer practices.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
After completing this course, students will learn to: - Describe how an advertising agency works. - Evaluate and critically interpret advertisements both in terms of their construction and their societal impact. - Analyze and discuss the advertising process through a sociological lens. - Formulate research questions about how advertisements are made. - Develop a method to collect, import into a data set and statistically manipulate primary data for testing hypotheses about the relationship between advertising and society.
This course introduces students to the sociological analysis of advertising. Students will learn how to analyze and interpret advertisements and the role advertising plays in society, culture, and the economy. The course will begin by exploring the historical and social contexts in which advertising has evolved and exists today as a central aspect of capitalist economy and consumer society. This will involve looking at social structures, economic conditions, media institutions, and governmental regulations. The course will then examine the creation of advertising content, by identifying its internal rules and those principles that enable it to be meaningful on one hand, and the various networks of people and organizations that have to collaborate to bring it to life and the motivations that drive those different collaborators on the other. Throughout this section the students will become familiar with and learn to apply a variety of theoretical tools from different disciplines. Finally, the course will examine the ways in which advertising is enlisted in processes of cultural representation and identity construction, by considering the place of advertisements in society, and the place of society in advertisements.
Suggested, but not required prerequisites for this course are Consumer Culture and Research Design. A comfort level with sociological thinking and ease with mass communication research's most influental models will help. A good dose of curiosity and open-mindedness are recommended.
Lectures, group presentations, in-class discussions, written assignements.
Materiale di riferimento
A selection of journal articles and book chapters will be made available to the students who will regularly attend the course. All the readings will be distributed as PDFs through the course Ariel page.
The non-attending students will be tested on the following books: (1.) Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace, by William Leiss, Stephen Kline, Sut Jhally, Jackie Botterill and Kyle Asquith, Routledge, 2018, 4th edition; (2.) Advertising Myths: The Strange Half-Lives of Images and Commodities, by Anne Cronin, Routledge, 2003. Note: all chapters of these books need to be studies for passing the exam.
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
There will be a final paper for this class instead of a final exam. The paper will involve evaluating an advertising campaign from the various perspectives introduced in the course. Details on the final paper will be distributed in class at the beginning of the course. Prior to the due date of the paper, students will have the possibility to present on their final paper projects. This will be an opportunity for the students involved to receive feedback from both the professor and their peers on the direction of the project. Other in-class activities, such as group reading presentations and active participation to in-class discussions, will supplement the evaluation of the attending students by allowing them to add points on their final grades.
For the non-attending students there will be a final exam with open questions covering the two books assigned in this syllabus.