Monday, 17 November 2014

OUGD401 Consumerism, Gender Roles, Society and Politics


We have been given some more topics that we could write our essay and create a body of work about. One of the topics is Gender representation. The question is 'To what extent does advertising construct our ideas of gender?' In the seminar, we discussed the past depictions of women. A quote from Berger 1972 is 'men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at'. I think this quote doesn't really apply these days as Feminism is talked about so much more and women respect themselves more. I think the quote is a bit stupid, as women didn't have a choice in the past as they were literally expected to find a man and then tend to all his needs. Women don't get dressed up to impress men these days, they do it because they want to.

If I was going to look into this topic, I would look into the campaign by Guerilla Girls, who make really bold, striking posters and advertisements stating facts about the lack of equality for women. Advertisements played a crucial part in the selling of certain products, such as cigarettes, for which they would use women in their posters, although aim the posters at men. I think this whole topic would be really interesting to look at, as advertisements have definitely used women to sell their products, although they have also changed the mindset of men, and basically made some feel like they deserve the woman.

Even women's magazines these days are still aimed at trying to make yourself more presentable for a man, not for yourself. I could look into the artist Barbara Kruger who created the print 'Your Body Is A Battlefield'


The question based on consumerism is 'What is the relationship between branding and The Consumer Self?' We have been given the name Karl Marx (1818-1883), who, after researching, I found out created the theory of Marxism, which forms the foundation of communsim. The summary we looked at went over certain areas of history, such as 1876 with the "stanley" range cooker, which I have already analysed a couple of weeks ago.

We also found out how commodity culture perpetuates false needs. The ways that companies manage to do this is with aesthetic innovation, planned obsolescence and novelty. Advertising basically conceals the background history of the products it is trying to sell. In other words, the context in which a product is produced is kept hidden, for example Nike uses sweat shops where they pay their workers minimum amounts, however sell the product for extausionate amounts and pocket the profit. Another way is that products are given human associations, such as products themselves can be perceived as sexy, romantic, cool and fun.

If I chose to base my essay on consumerism, I will look at Frankfurt School (set up in 1923) and also Herbert Marcuse who wrote "One Dimensional Man" in 1964. I can also look into Adbusters.

Both the consumerism and gender roles could definitely link into one another, which I might find useful when choosing a question as these are both the topics I am most interested in, however I am unsure if I would want to look into gender roles as it makes me really angry.


The question based on social and political change is 'Discuss the role that Graphic Design has played in Political and/or social change in a specific perious in history.' This question could be really interesting as I could look into propaganda posters, which I looked at when I took history and found really interesting.

I could also look into change within graphic design, such as the trends like modernism, bauhaus and postmodernism. I think it'd be really interesting to look into the 60s and 70s and into the really expressive art and advertising that were created, that were heavily influenced by drugs and the music industry.

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