Schudson, Michael. (1983) Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion


“Many people believe, with Christopher Lasch, that advertising “manufactures a product of its own: the consumer, perpetually unsatisfied, restless, anxious, and bored.  Advertising serves not so much to advertise products as to promote consumption as a way of life” (Schudson, 6).

“The ads say, typically, “buy me and you will overcome the anxieties I have just reminded you about” or “buy me and you will enjoy life” or “buy me and be recognized as a successful person” or “buy me and everything will be easier for you” or “come spend a few dollars and share in this society of freedom, choice, novelty, and abundance” (Schudson, 6).

-Great summary of literature at bottom of page 6.

“A consumer culture is taken to be a culture in which human values have been grotesquely distorted so that commodities become not ends in themselves but overvalued means for acquiring acceptable ends like love and friendship…people sacrifice people to accumulate wealth or [they] sacrifice themselves to the pursiut of goods in order to accumulate people”
(Schudson, 7).

Chapter 1 – How Effective is Advertising?

Advertising is only marginally effective.  Most advertising doesn’t effectively persuade new users to try a new product.  It targets people who are already buying a product category to be loyal to a particular brand in that category.  High users (30%) are responsible for most (70%) of product category sales.  Rises in sales over decades are generally the result of increased household income and therefore increased overall consumer spend.  More money would have been spent by consumers in the past generation if advertising had existed or not.  It is difficult to understand how advertising combines with other forms of marketing to be effective.  Some campaigns are very successful, others are not and no one knows why.

Chapter 4

Anthropological study of how material possessions function in consumer and non-consumer societies.

Chapter 5

Outlines the social forces that created a consumer society in the 19th century


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