The folllowing sample essay on Consumer Culture Essay discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Hence the controversy over whether consumption is a sphere of manipulation or freedom. How is magazine publishing part of “Consumer Culture” Magazine publishing is both a cultural activities and a business. Magazine are vehicles of new idea and sources of entertainment. But the task of bring them into existence and of purveying them to their readers is a commercial one requiring all the resources and skills of the manager and entrepreneur.
In this essay I will analyze the teen girls magazines to demonstrate how is magazine publishing part of “consumer culture”.
– Magazine is a culture of consumption When a reader is consuming a magazine, she is consuming the culture values, ideas, aspirations and identities provided by it. Girls’ magazines, such as: “Bliss”, “J-17”, “Sugar”, “Cosmo girl”, “Elle girl”, are filled with fashion, beauty, styles, music, celebrities, boys and advice.
Some of them also campaign on issues and provide a platform for the teen generation to shout from. Since they are popular mainstream magazines that are available in most newsagents, and therefore arguably represent to the readers what constitutes the modern teenage girl.
Through reading a magazine aimed at her demographic group, an adolescent girl will gain an insight into the world of the girls and will be taught what are the cultural expectations made of them as girls, she will therefore come to learn that society expects her to be more concerned with her appearance, her relations with other people, and her ability to win approval from boys than with her own ideas or expectations for herself, so magazines are central to society as they create a culture, a culture of femininity, they defines and shapes the girls’ world, we can see that it becomes a familiar friend for girls- it advises her, and provides entertainment, amusement and escapism for her and speaks to her in a language she understands.
These magazines therefore symbolize a lifestyle, a life of luxury and pleasure.
They are not only just a teen magazine, but they also represent a brand name in the teen market. They build up new trends, ideas, lifestyle and attitude, they are the new primary producers in out so called knowledge economy. For example: Sugar magazine was a dazzling success, it launched its own brand extension – its own line of clothing a couple of years ago.
– Magazine is the culture of market society Magazine publishing is aware of the demands of the market, their competition and advertisers. Consumers represent a diverse set of groups, each possessing a distinct lifestyle and a consumption pattern. Therefore, there are different types of magazines in the market targeted for different groups of people, and the articles in these magazines are primarily written with their audience in mind. For example: some teen magazines, like: “Mizz”, “Shout” are geared toward pre-teens and early teenagers, aged 10 -14.
The content of these magazines is mainly about beauty and celebrities. But other teen magazines, like: “Bliss”, “Sugar”, “J-17”, “Cosmo girl”, “Seventeen”, “19”, etc. are aimed at 15 – 19 years old, or at least who think they are as mature as a 15 – 19 year old. Beside the regular content in every teen girls magazine, these magazines are also laced with much sexual dimorphism, or the definition of particular attitudes, actions, and objects as feminine or masculine. – Magazine is, in principal, universal and impersonal Though the Association for Teachers and Lecturers voted to campaign for age restrictions to be placed on teen magazines at their annual conference in April, the UK Government say no to age restrictions on teen magazines.
And since there is no age restriction on teen magazines, they can easily be purchased by everyone in nearly every newsagent, most shops and supermarkets. Thus, it is a kind of mass consumption. The more widespread the teen magazines become, the bigger audience they can penetrate and the more people they can bring new ideas to. With more people sharing the values, ideas, aspirations, and identities provided by these teen magazines, they are able to set the norms for the culture.
For example: these magazines reflect images of thinness and beauty, and link them to other symbols of happiness, love and success for girls. And the same message is repeated over and over again in the magazines. The repeated exposure to thin bodies and perfect faces eventually sticks and becomes the ideal image of the majority of young girls. – Magazine identifies freedom with private choice and private life There are varieties of teen girls’ magazines in the market, from very “girly bubbly” Bliss, J-17, Sugar to more “elegant” Teen Vogue, Elle girl, etc.
Both local and imported foreign magazines are also available in newsagents, bookshops, convenient stores, supermarkets, hotel lobby shops, and malls. Since most of us are living in a free world, the free market permits individuals to make choices for themselves, and prohibits them from forcing those choices onto others. Therefore, people from almost everywhere around the world can choose to consume these teen girls magazines according to their preferences. – Consumer needs are in principle unlimited and insatiable Since there are many different teen girls magazines available in the market, readers are spoiled for choices.
Thus, readers may easily shift from one magazine to another magazine. In order to maintain the sales and to increase the demand, advertising, marketing and promotion are widely used among these teen magazines. For examples: Bliss, Sugar, J-17 magazines have all put advertisements on some other teenage pop magazines, offered subscription discounts and free gifts to their readers. With more advertisements and promotion sales, these magazines can increase their competitive power and attract their potential readers.
– Magazine is the privileged medium for negotiating identity and status within a post-traditional society If you break down a typical teen magazine, you will notice that is almost fifty percent advertisements. Advertisements seen in those teen magazines, and the imagery such advertising campaigns put forward can also be seen in influence a young person constructing their identity. Through the visual codes of these advertisements, they work to signify a particular set of cultural values and meanings. This can be anything from the latest labeled trainers to buy to which mobile phone is the smallest and therefore most popular to which beauty treatment to use. The list is endless.
Sometimes these advertisements evince the excesses of materialism. A great many young girls would look as these advertisements as a source of inspiration as to what to have and would think that they were inadequate to some extent if they could not have those “cool” images or products, therefore advertising screams the values of popular culture today, and every young girl reading teen magazines wants to look like the images portrayed throughout the magazine.
For example: the present Love Kylie lingerie advertisement or the Maybelline make-up advertisements found in Bliss and other teen magazine, these advertisements promise to transform the girls’ appearances into something that they have always dreamed of. Girls look up to the images they see day after day, and the familiar thin, flawless figure becomes a role model. These advertisements are designed to encourage girls to use make up and to diet, and advertisers make this image acceptable.
– Magazine represents the increasing importance of culture in the modern exercises of power A decade ago teen magazines focused on just makeup tips and fashion. However, in 1988, the launch of “Sassy”, (it had a new, different, “cool”, and straight forward approach. It took a more modern tone in fashion and issues. The main issue being, you guessed it, sex. ) has been attributed as the cause for this sexier content. The trend has continued with the recent introductions of “Bliss”, “Sugar”, “Cosmo girl” and “Teen Vogue”, etc. Teen magazines nowadays are filled with images of sex and sexuality as well as information about sexual health.
Now you can open up any teen magazine and notice the sexual influences. They not only appear in the articles, whose subjects can range from what sex is like, unwed pregnancy, abortion, or how to be sexy, but also in the advertisements placed throughout the magazines. Since teenagers are curious about sex and these magazines seem to be the only way for them to obtain information about it. Therefore, many teen magazines have increased the amount of space focused on sexual-related issues in order to follow what thei magazines in recent years, it marks a new moment in the construction of female sexual identities.
Conclusion According to Slater, “consumer culture is a culture of consumption”, “consumer culture is a culture of a market society”, “consumer culture is, in principle, universal and impersonal”, “consumer culture identifies freedom with private choice and private life”, “consumer needs are in principle unlimited and insatiable”, “consumer culture is the privileged medium for negotiating identity and status within a post-traditional society” and “consume culture represents the increasing importance of culture in the modern exercise of power”. From the above analysis, magazine publishing can fit into Slater’s descriptions of consumer culture.Therefore, magazine publishing is part of consumer culture.
References Readings: 1. Featherstone, M. Consumer Culture and Postmodernism (Sage, 1991) 2. Martyn J. Lee. Consumer Culture Reborn (Routledge, 1993) 3. Slater, D. Consumer Culture and Modernity (Polity, 1997) 4. McCracken, E. Decoding Women’s Magazines (Macmillan, 1993) 5. Grant John The New Marketing Manifesto (Texere, 1999) 6. Bourdieu, Pierre The Field of Cultural Production (Polity, 1993)
7. Bocock, R. Consumption (Routledge, 1993) Websites: 1. Researching consumer culture – http://homepages. gold. ac. uk/slater/consumer/ 2. Article about teen magazine from ABC7Chicago. com – http://abclocal. go. com/wls/news/connectwithkids/082904_cwk_magazines. html 3. Cause of advertising – http://www. cwrl. utexas. edu/~onderdonk/306fall02/teen/causesofadvertising. html 4. Periodicals Publishers Association – http://www. ppa. co. uk/cgi-bin/go. pl/legal/article. html? uid=1355&topic_uid=82 5. Sociology of Consumption – http://uk. geocities. com/balihar_sanghera/contheories. html.