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Captains Of Consciousness Advertising And The Social Roots Of The Consumer Culture
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Captains Of Consciousness Advertising And The Social Roots Of The Consumer Culture

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Captains of Consciousness offers a historical look at the origins of the advertising industry and consumer society at the turn of the twentieth century. For this new edition Stuart Ewen, one of our foremost interpreters of popular culture, has written a new preface that considers the continuing influence of advertising and commercialism in contemporary life. Not limiting h ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 28th 2001 by Basic Books (first published 1977)
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This book has so many approaches to comprehending the "consumer culture" that it is an education, for me, unto itself.Is it a history book, a social commentary, a philosophical query,a psychological thesis? It is this and much more.This is what excites me - it makes more sense of the universe I am in. It is actually meant to be used academically, but is absolutely readable for the lay person. As part of his journey toward a PhD in the early 70's, Prof Ewen uncovers a missing area in the field of ...more
If I had to pick one book and call it "my college education" this would be the one.
Tom Lichtenberg
'Captains of Consciousness, originally published in the mid-70's but just as relevant today, is an interesting book on the role of advertising in the development of the new world. It's only been a hundred years since the invention of mass production, which eventually required a culture of mass consumption to go along with it. What good is it to produce a billion widgets a day if there is no one to buy them? The result was the creation of the middle class, at least in America and Europe. Globaliz ...more
This sociological study is now a bit of a historical study as well, since it was written in the seventies and is greatly about the 20's-30's, but that in no way makes it less important today. If anything it's more important today since we modern readers were born into the consumer culture and know nothing else. The insight to the pre-industrial world and the illustration of sprouting consumerism creates a vivid picture of a world can never know. It's important to understand these backgrounds to ...more
William Leight
Stuart Ewen is another New Left historian, along with the likes of Gabriel Kolko and David Noble, who made his impact largely by looking up what the surprisingly frank corporate magnates of the late 19th and early 20th century were saying about what they were doing. Asserting that advertising was intended to remold the American people into the kind of consumer that the new mass-production industries needed sounds like a crazy left-wing conspiracy theory, but the quotes that Ewen has found to thi ...more
James Rozoff
This is an important book that needed to be written, I just wish it had been written better. The sentence structure being what it is, it's hard to hold on to the ideas being expressed. Also, a book like this should be jam-packed with damning quotes and yet I find it difficult to find something to share on Facebook or elsewhere. A worthwhile book, but I have to believe that there is something out there that does what this one does, only better.
In this book, Ewen makes the argument that advertising has more power in our collective "consciousness" than we give it credit for. He starts with the industrialization of America, and how that influenced advertising. He speaks of how the image of the woman, the man, and the family was altered in this consciousness by the ubiquity of ads.
Though I don't know if I agree with every point that he made, I appreciate his motivations in writing the book. In summary, he wants us to realize that ads are
Thom Foolery
While ads continually painted a picture in which people could trust no one (not even themselves) in their immediate surroundings, the corporations were presented as an alternative for communities which were pictured as being eroded by mistrust: people fragmented from one another by such privatized problems as "sneaker smell," "paralyzed pores," "vacation knees," "spoon-food face," "office hips," "underarm offense," and "ashtray breath." The immediate world of the "consumer" was in fact presented
May 01, 2007 ben rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: society feeling kind of hollow?
Coming out of a course in liberal democratic ideals, reading this book, and then going to work in a factory for two months drastically reshaped my view of our world and American society. Ewen offers an understanding of the societal changes that took place in capitalist industrialized societies 1910-1940 that will shake the foundations of your relationship to consumerism.
fascinating and informative review of early advertising and consumption in the US...a must-read...
Apr 22, 2008 Vicki rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in consumerism, advertising, and/or corporate propaganda
Recommended to Vicki by: Dr. Marshall
Great history of advertising and the shaping of new "needs" of the modern individual.
Josh Paul
History of media and propaganda.
how the world works - finally revealed!
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