Module Description: This module looks at the rise of promotional culture (public relations, advertising, marketing and branding) and promotional intermediaries and their impact on society. The first part of the module will look at the history of promotional culture and will offer some conflicting theoretical approaches with which to view its development. These include: professional/industrial, economic, political economy, post-Fordist, audience, consumer society, risk society, and postmodern perspectives. The second part will look at specific case areas of promotional culture. These are in: fashion and taste, technological commodities, popular culture (film TV, music), celebrities and public figures, political parties, and financial markets. In each of these areas questions will be asked about the influence of promotional practices on the production, communication and consumption of ideas and products as well as larger discourses, fashions/genres and socio-economic trends.

It is required in this essay topic to base your work on most of the following sources. I will write down 25 sources, but if you decide there is some other, more relevant source for this topic, please go ahead and use it. But most of the given sources have to be used in the essay.


our focuses on ways of reading and analysing promotional texts semiotically, and competing interpretations of how such texts contribute to evolving social relations. Above all, it will discuss accounts of how promotional texts have played in the transition towards a post-industrial, post-Fordist, or postmodrn society. In so doing, promotion has been part of the rise of symbolic value over use value and exchange value; and a means by which the superstructural and cultural elements of society have come to dominate its structural and economic foundations. Several key concepts and transitions will be discussed, as will more recent critical responses.

key readings:

1) A Wernick (1991) Promotional Culture, Sage, London, Chapter one

2) Chapter four of A Davis (2013) Promotional Cultures

This lecture asks does promotional culture have a strong influence on fashion trends,individual and collective ‘tastes’ and ‘identities’ (subjectivities)? The week focuses particularly on the fashion industry. Is fashion imposed from above or does it come more from the activities and preferences of the mass of consumers? The concept of taste is discussed in relation to culture with reference to ‘elite’ and ‘mass’ cultural values. The lecture will then attempt to find a way through these discussions by discussing the work of Bourdieu.

key readings:

3) P Braham (1997) ‘Fashion: Unpacking a Cultural Production’ in P du Gay ed. (1997) Production of Culture/Cultures of Production, Sage, London

4) Chapter five of A Davis (2013) Promotional Cultures

5) A McRobbie (1998) British Fashion Design: Rag Trade or Image Industry, Routledge

6) T Agins (1999) The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Industry

7) Davis, F (1992) Fashion, culture, and identity, Chicago : University of Chicago Press

8) M Lee ed. (2000) The Consumer Society Reader, Blackwell

9) W Leiss, S Kline, S Jhally and J Botterill (2005) Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace, Routledge

10) H Powell ed. (2013) Promotional Culture and Convergence: Markets, Methods, Media, Routledge

11) J Turow and M McAllister eds. (2009) The Advertising and Consumer Culture Reader, Routledge, New York

12) G Sussman ed. (2011) The Propaganda Society: Promotional Politics in Global Context, Peter Lang, New York

Week one both introduces the module and begins with the first topic. This looks at the general, mainly 20th Century history of the marketing, public relations and advertising industries. These histories reveal a number of key functions and dismodules about how these industries have developed as ‘professions’, and how they have played essential parts in the evolution of advanced capitalist democracies. Now it seems contemporary society could not exist without them. The lecture both covers this industry perspective and begins to question it.

key readings:

13) A Davis (June 2013) ‘Living in Promotional Times’ at OpenDemocracy:

14) W Leiss, S Kline, S, J Botterill (2005) Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace. London : Routledge, Chapter One, p3-32

15) Chapters one and two of A Davis (2013) Promotional Cultures A Davis (2005) ‘Placing Promotional Culture’ in Curran, J and Morley, D eds., Media and Cultural Theory, 2nd Edn., Arnold, pp 149-163

16) Chapter two in H Powell ed. (2013) Promotional Culture and Convergence: Markets, Methods, Media, Routledge

17) M Tungate (2005) Fashion Brands: Branding and Style from Armani to Zara

18) Crane, D. (2000) Fashion and its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Identity in Clothing. Chicago,Chicago University Press.

Bourdieu and Related

19) P Bourdieu (1984) Distinction, Routledge

20) P Bourdieu (1993) The Field of Cultural Production, ‘Editor’s Introduction’

21) P Bourdieu, A Darbel and D Schnapper (1990) The Love of Art: European Museums and their Public

22) J Entwhistle and A Rocamora (2006) The Field of Fashion Materialised: A Study of London Fashion Week, in Sociology, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp 735-51

23) A Rocamora (2002) ‘Fields of Fashion: Critical Insights into Bourdieu’s Sociology of Culture’ in Journal of Consumer Culture, Vol. 2, No.3, pp341-62

24) D Hesmondhalgh (2006) ‘Bourdieu, the Media and Cultural Production’ in Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 28, No. 2

25) J Frow (1987) ‘Accounting for Tastes: Some Problems in Bourdieu’s Sociology of Culture’ in Cultural Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1………….

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