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The Concept of Hegemony in Media Advertisement - Essay Example

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Concept of Hegemony in media advertisement Introduction  The term hegemony refers to dominance, which is indirect in form. It may be visible in instances where a state leader (hegemon) may impose differently implied forms of power, instead of decreeing direct army force (Hassig, 1994, 23-24). In ancient Greek civilisation, hegemony referred to the dominance of one city-state over another city-state, using political and military dominance…
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Concept of Hegemony in media advertisement Introduction  The term hegemony refers to dominance, which is indirect in form. It may be visible in instances where a state leader (hegemon) may impose differently implied forms of power, instead of decreeing direct army force (Hassig, 1994, 23-24). In ancient Greek civilisation, hegemony referred to the dominance of one city-state over another city-state, using political and military dominance. In the more recent times, 19th century, hegemony implied dominating power of one nation over others (Bullock and Trombley, 1999, 387-388).  The 20th century hegemony was the era of cultural hegemony, where through careful manipulation of social values, there was the perceivable dominance of one social class over another. Presently, we find that advertising and mass communications has started asserting immense dominance (hegemony) over the consumer section and on institutional facets of modern capitalist societies (Fox and Lears, 1983). Various researches conducted on the role of advertisements starting from around the 1970s, have showed that mass communications plays a strong role in manipulating and persuading consumers, without any apparent or visible force. Discussion James Fallows in one of his paper notes that in capitalist societies, like US, the chief objective of the economy is to increase the rate of individual consumption, and in the process elevate the overall living standards. He claims, "Economic development means more. If people have more choice, more leisure, more wealth, more opportunity to pursue happiness, society as a whole will be a success” (Fallows, 1993, 77). Based on this outlook, the advertisements in such societies are created aimed at attracting more consumers into buying their products, while simultaneously persuading their existent consumers to upgrade and buy more expensive products, something which is often referred to as the ‘consumer culture’(Goonasekera, l987). Consumer culture, said to be generated form the new-age brand of lucrative advertising, has led to strong criticism from various social groups. Such groups have claimed that mass media and advertisements have a strong effect and influence on the social culture (‘hegemony’), without being apparent and lead to increased individualism, self-centredness, and antagonism amongst the people living within the society. In such societies where the advertisement have a hegemony effect over the consumers the basic quality of life is ascertained on the acquisition of desired items usage, dispensation and further acquisition of new objects (Inglis, 1972). Consumption and acquisition now forms to be a major power within a society that is based on consumerism, and mass media advertising has been criticised for fuelling a rise in global consumerism (that is influencing other societies, primarily the eastern culture that may not be capitalist in nature, yet are falling for the lure of consumerism) (Hedebro, 1982). In terms of communication, there are three major components: the communicator, the message, and the receiver. In consumer based/capitalist societies, “communication basically [is] a process of transmitting messages at a distance for the purpose of control….persuasion; attitude change; behavior modification; socialization through transmission of information, influence or conditioning" (Carey, 1989, 42). Thus, here we find that the main purpose of communicating through advertising is to transmit product related information to the customer, however in a manner that is lucrative enough to persuade the consumer to buy it. In this context, we will conduct a case study of an advertisement to show how information is conveyed in a manner that attracts a potential buyer. Case study 1: Heineken - Walk in Fridge http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIutgtzwhAc Descriptive component What is the media? This is a TV and an internet based advertisement What is the content? The content shows a wife (hostess) from an apparently well-to-do family showing her friends her new walk-in cupboard, and as her friends exclaim over it, there are exclamations from another room. The wives on trying to locate the source of these exclamations find that their husbands are admiring a walk -in refrigerator bought by the husband (host). Who is the target audience? Primarily young men (and to some extent their wives) with sound financial positions. Analytical component Here the advertisement assumes that the basic quality of life of a young successful couple is naturally determined by their acquisition of expensive and desired items. It also assumes that such consumers would believe in a quality of life where there are constant acquisitions of new objects (here one can assume that a family of such stature would already possess a refrigerator, thus, the new walk-in fridge would be an add-on, or in place of an old model that has been disposed of). Thus, a world of consumerism at its best, is reflected to the viewers, where information is communicated in a manner that is extremely attractive. Another very apparent social message portrayed is gender division, where we find women adoring garments, shoes and jewellery; while men admiring their collection of alcoholic drinks. References Bullock, A., and Trombley, S., (eds.), 1999. The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought. London: Harper Collins Publishers: London. Carey, J., 1989. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Winchester, MA: Unwin Hyman Ltd. Fallows, J., 1993. How the World Works. Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 272, No. 6, December, 60-87. Fox, R., and Lears, T., 1983. The Culture of Consumption. New York: Pantheon. Goonasekera, A., 1987. The Influence of Television on Cultural Values with Special Reference to Third World Countries. Media Asia, 14(1), 7-12. Hassig, R., 1994. Mexico and the Spanish Conquest. New York: Longman Publishing. Hedebro, G., 1982. Communication and Social Change in Developing Nations: A Critical View. Ames: Iowa State University Press. Inglis, F., 1972. The Imagery of Power: A Critique of Advertising. London: Heinemann. Youtube Ad: Heineken - Walk in Fridge http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIutgtzwhAc Read More
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