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Taming consumer culture: A contractarian ethic for advertising

Dissertation
Author: Kathy Jamison
Abstract:
This work proposes three principles and one imperative as the philosophical foundations for an ethic in advertising based on the social contract of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) and the contemporary work of John Rawls (1971). The central claim is that advertising is a social institution of import situated within the broader concept of consumer culture, and as such, its social and cultural influence cannot be ignored. The following chapters provide a descriptive analysis of the classical theorists of the social contract; Rawls' principles of justice as fairness ; contemporary theorists and applications; and the historical backdrop of the social contract and consumer culture in early America. Two examples of advertising as a practice of consumer culture are presented in a chapter on media and the dispersion of food myths to the public and a chapter on childhood obesity and the advertising of junk foods. These chapters support the call for an ethic based on the principles of contractarianism by exerting three principles: (1) acknowledge advertising as a social institution that generates textual meanings of significance, influence and impact on society; (2) in light of the first principle, create advertising campaigns in terms of its impact and consequence; and (3) make beneficence a constant priority. Additionally, a separate imperative is presented to emphasize the necessity for a rethinking of terms regarding the consumer versus the individual .

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Full document contains 189 pages
Abstract: This work proposes three principles and one imperative as the philosophical foundations for an ethic in advertising based on the social contract of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) and the contemporary work of John Rawls (1971). The central claim is that advertising is a social institution of import situated within the broader concept of consumer culture, and as such, its social and cultural influence cannot be ignored. The following chapters provide a descriptive analysis of the classical theorists of the social contract; Rawls' principles of justice as fairness ; contemporary theorists and applications; and the historical backdrop of the social contract and consumer culture in early America. Two examples of advertising as a practice of consumer culture are presented in a chapter on media and the dispersion of food myths to the public and a chapter on childhood obesity and the advertising of junk foods. These chapters support the call for an ethic based on the principles of contractarianism by exerting three principles: (1) acknowledge advertising as a social institution that generates textual meanings of significance, influence and impact on society; (2) in light of the first principle, create advertising campaigns in terms of its impact and consequence; and (3) make beneficence a constant priority. Additionally, a separate imperative is presented to emphasize the necessity for a rethinking of terms regarding the consumer versus the individual .