Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865-1920

By James D. Norris | Go to book overview
Save to active project

PREFACE

Advertisements, Marshall McLuhan argued, are "the richest and most faithful daily reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities."1 This book, an historical analysis of advertisements, is based in large measure on the premise that McLuhan enunciated and is the result of examining over the past three decades literally thousands of ads. Although I have looked in a rather systematic fashion at advertisements in newspapers, ranging from large urban papers to small-town weekly papers, because of the questions I am interested in answering I have concentrated my efforts on more popular journals and magazines with national circulations. I have been interested in how we developed truly national markets in this country, in how consumers were convinced to buy and consume items made by distant and unknown producers, in how manufacturers used advertising to persuade people to buy products they had never used or seen before, much less purchased. What appeal did manufacturers use to build markets for products, many of which had previously been produced locally or in the home, among customers used to regional differences in consumption? And what did the advertisements, as mirrors of society, reflect about the values of that society?

In the period between 1865 and 1920, as the nation shifted from a ruralfarming economy to an urban-manufacturing one, a major transformation also occurred in the behavior of American consumers. Nowhere is this transformation better illustrated than in the advertisements that appeared in popular magazines. In 1970, in a report to the American Philosophical Society, I argued that advertising played a major role in breaking down much of the localism that permeated the American antebellum economy. I also suggested that "By the 1920's we were a society of abundance in which consumption and spending became increasingly more important than the old virtues."2 Since that time this theme has been vigorously

-xiii-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865-1920
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 206

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?