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Exploring a ‘soft’ mode of governance: how advertising relates women to ‘modest’ power

Curcic, Nevena (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis explores advertising as a ‘soft’ mode of governance understood in terms of a form of power which avoids instruments of coercion, involving instead certain practices of freedom and forms of pleasure. The main concern of the thesis is to analyse the mechanisms through which techniques of such ‘modest’ power interact with techniques of representation in order to define forms of femininity and shape self-fashioning practices of female consumers. The study is based on a comprehensive survey of a sample of television advertisements broadcast in Britain on three television channels with national coverage in May 2001 as well as on the analysis of a selected body of advertising trade literature. It draws on theoretical and methodological approaches from social anthropology and various strands of cultural studies. The thesis reveals that the way advertising attempts to influence consumers is in line with some aspects of neo-liberal style of governance. It argues that such a mode of governance seeks to regulate women’s ethical sensibilities by outlining the space of desire, power and pleasure, by stimulating the will for self-improvement and by providing advice about how women should think of and shape themselves.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Wright, Susan
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Department of Cultural Studies and Sociology
Keywords:Governance, power, advertising, representation, female identities
Subjects:HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:392
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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