Advertising and Consumer Citizenship: Gender, Images, and Rights

By Anne M. Cronin | Go to book overview

4

Branding vision

Advertising, time and privilege

In this chapter, I expand my focus on textual analysis with an emphasis on processes of vision and the constitution of 'the seeing European'. As discussed in Chapter 2, Colin Campbell (1997, 1999) has challenged conventional models for understanding consumer acts as 'communicative' acts. Such acts are often considered to communicate messages about identity - goods (mediated by advertising) are considered primarily as signs to be manipulated in a process of self-construction. Campbell suggests that the relation between a subject's intent, action and the meanings in advertising and consumerism should not be approached in a deterministic manner. We should not read 'conscious intent' into acts of consumption in a simplistic way - awareness and intent should not be conflated. Campbell argues that the assumptions about the subject's awareness and intent lead many theories of consumption to consider consumer acts primarily in symbolic terms. Understandings of action are reduced to the symbolism or meaning of the acts rather than the 'doing' of action. In this framework, acts do not so much '“do something” as “say something”, or perhaps, “do something through saying something”' (Campbell 1997:341). Campbell wants to move beyond this communicative framework to consider the action of acting. As I have outlined in previous chapters, theories of performativity can be useful for considering how saying something can be doing something. This 'doing' is not so much about communication - the action of speech actively constitutes the self, rather than expresses the self 's communicative intent. In this chapter I examine the action of viewing advertisements through an adaptation of performativity. Using a framework of visual performativity, I explore the relations between awareness, intent and the action of vision. How does a reflexive form of textual address in advertising frame visual performativity? How are identities constituted and reworked in visual performativity? What forms of privilege are produced and re-produced?

Through the analysis of a sample advertisement, I will illustrate how colonial history and the sexed, racialised discourses of 'the individual' continue to benefit certain groups in contemporary society by affording privileged viewing positions. I argue that vision and time form the subject - they produce the conditions of possibility for vision and re-produce the

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Advertising and Consumer Citizenship: Gender, Images, and Rights
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Individual, the Citizen and the Consumer 10
  • 2 - Advertising Knowledges 37
  • 3 - Advertising, Texts and Textual Strategies 54
  • 4 - Branding Vision 83
  • 5 - Female Visions 105
  • 6 - Visual Epistemologies and New Consumer Rights 133
  • Concluding Remarks 156
  • Notes 163
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 175
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