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OUGD501: Context of Practice 2 (Lecture) - Consumerism

Consumerism: Persuasion, Society, Brand, Culture - Richard Miles 

W-F/17 - National Cash Register Building New York, World's fair 1939

  • Analyse the rise of SU Consumerism,
  • Discuss the links between consumerism and our conscious desires,
  • Sigmund Freud,
  • Edmund Bernays,
  • Consumerism as social control.
  • Century of Self - Adam Curtis  - 2002
  • No Logo (Brands Globalisation Resistance) - Naomi Klein - 1999

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
  • New theory of human nature,
  • Psychoanalysis,
  • Hidden primitive sexual forces and animal instincts which need controlling,
  • The interpretation of dream (1899)
  • The Unconscious (1915)
  • The Ego and the ID (1923)
  • Beyond the pleasure (1920)
  • Civilisation & it's discontents (1930
  • He analysed peoples dreams, talking about suppressed, dangerous animal instincts, people aren't rational beings, we're instinctual and desire based - irrational. 
  • Society stops us acting out on our fantasises.
  • Freud's Model of Personality Structure
  • Most of our actions are driven by what is beneath, the continuousness, the mind. In the 'ID'  - Pleasure principle - wish fulfilment. 
  • Fundamental tension between civilisation and the individual 
  • Human instincts incompatible with the well being of community
  • The pleasure principle. 
  • We all have the strong desire for violence or to have sex, but we can't act out on the desires - society imposes systems and laws to keep these at bay, in a harmonious world. Because of which, humanity will always be unhappy, those desires, must be released in some way. There are many ways repressed desires manifest themselves. 
  • If we are aloud to act out on these desires, in a socially acceptable way, one our desire has been satisfied, we are kind of docile and happy, not irrational, content. 
  • Fundentally, civilastional will make us discontent. 
WWI 1914-18
  • We should expect this from people, it shouldn't be a surprise the world is destroying itself, it's human instinct.
  • A morbid desire on a grand scale, 
  • Edward Bernays (1891 - 1995)
  • Press agent
  • Employed by public information during WW1,
  • Post war set up 'the council on Public relations'
  • Birth of PR (public relations)
  • Based on the idea of Freud (his uncle)
  • Crystallising Public opinion (1923)
  • Propaganda (1928) 
Torches of Freedom,
  • Any business can succeed if you relate the product to one of the repressed animal instincts, or any of the repressed unconscious instincts, you can make someone desire that product, through an unnecessary need. 
  • 1929 Easter Day Parade,
  • It was taboo for women to smoke, Bernays was employed by a tobacco company to get women to smoke. He payed a bunch of debutons to parade in New York, and at an organised moment, they all lit up cigarettes, and it was photographed, when it was photographed he fed a story that these women were a group of suffragettes, and this was a political protest about women in society, the cigarettes were dubbed torches of freedom, against the male repression of society.
  • Cigarettes had become a symbol of status, and app leaded as sexy. 
  • Attaching something meanness to a desire, for status, sex appeal and gratification  - a symbol of power.
  • Product Placement,
  • Celebrity endorsements,
  • The use of pseudo-scientific reports,
  • This are bought because the illusion that those things will satisfy something subconsciously in some way,
  • America was investing in more factories and more technology, the need to mass produce things massively improved.
  • Henry Ford (1863 - 1947)
  • Transposed Taylorsim to car factories of Detroit,
  • Mass production, 
  • Moving assembly line,
  • Standart production models build as they move through the factory
  • Requires large investment, by increased productivity so much that reactively high wages can be paid, allowing the workers to by the product they produce. 
  • 1910 - 20,000 produces, $850
  • 1916 - 600,000
  • The emergence and the importance of brands. 
Aunt Jemima's Pancake Flour,
  • Originally became a product for pancake mix, 
  • However, house wives believed this robbed them of their jobs, 
  • so, they reduced it just flour, you need to add an egg to make the pancakes,
  • so house wives took this a believed they were cooking, 
  • Aiding that desire that there were actually cooking, providing. 
  • Adverts and marketing strategies begin to rely on psychological needs,
  • Oldsmobile - aimed at men, showing power, you were in control. Of your car, your women, where you're going, 
  • the idea of a car being penis extension. 
  • Consciousness starts to shift from a society that needs to a society that desires. Wanting a car because you want to be powerful, rather than needing to travel.False needs, based on desire.

Marketing Hidden Needs
  • Selling emotional security
  • The Hidden Persuaders - Vance Packard,
  • Selling reassurance of worth,
  • Selling ego-gratification, 
  • Selling creative outlets
  • Selling love objects,
  • Selling a sense of power
  • Selling a sense of roots,
  • Selling immortality,
  • 'Blow in her face, and she will follow you anywhere' - cigarette ad (Tipalet).
  • A new elite is needed to manage the bewildered herd,
  • Manufacturing consent,
  • People were sold on they could satisfy their desires on useless things, 
  • This on the back of a world war, so this is basically like anairky, 
  • If all the bewildered herd is satisfied, they society will work, 
Russian Revolution 1917,
  • They had a social revolution, 
  • A people's revolution, 
  • overthrew the rich and replaced it will a communist society, 
  • Putting PR into government policy,
  • October 24th, 1919 - Black Tuesday,
  • One of the biggest crashes in the stock market in the 20th century,
  • Which started the great depression, 
Roosevelt and the 'New Deal' (1933 - 36),
  • On the back of a promise to introduce welfare, society security
  • Creating jobs, and industry,
  • Rather than a scheme of big business doing what they want for society, 
  • this was about wealth creation, which was really unpopular for big businesses, 
  • World's Fair of 1940, in New York,
  • The Futurama,
  • Futuristic inventions which could be america's, 
  • new modes of travel, a depiction of what the world could be like. 
  • 'Democracity',
  • This would could be yours, at a cost, 
  • You are not what you own,
  • Consumerism is an ideological project,
  • We believe that through consumption our desires can be met
  • The Consumer self
  • The legacy of Bernays/PR can be felt in all aspects of C21st society, 
  • The conflicts between alternative models of social organisations continue to this day, 
  • To what extent are our lives free under the western consumerist system?

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