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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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20

Advertising and Consumer Culture

A Historical Review

Inger L. Stole

ABSTRACT

This chapter argues that the proliferation of advertising has been key to the creation and expansion of a modern consumer society. It explores literature on the growth of advertising with an emphasis on developments in the early part of the twentieth century. Using an institutional approach, it discusses the impact of advertising on discourses surrounding the emerging culture of consumption. Throughout the twentieth century, advertising and the consumer society it commanded were challenged, testing the political powers of marketing forces and their supporting institutions in both the cultural and political arenas. Commercial forces won most of these battles but were unable to eliminate a general uneasiness with commercialization.

Introduction

Since the late nineteenth century, consumer culture has become a defining element of what the United States embodies. Central to this development has been the rise of national advertising. Since the end of the Civil War, advertising has morphed from relative obscurity into a $280 billion industry leaving few of our social, political, cultural, and even educational institutions unaffected.1

During the past few decades, advertising and consumer issues have attracted an increased amount of scholarly interest, giving impetus to an interdisciplinary and rapidly expanding field of academic study. The task of capturing the complete history is complex, demanding a wide ...

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