Consumer Culture and the Media : Magazines in the Public Eye [by Mehita Iqani]

Jafari, Aliakbar (2014) Consumer Culture and the Media : Magazines in the Public Eye [by Mehita Iqani]. [Review]

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    Abstract

    Understanding the role of media in the (re)construction of consumer culture is an established topic within the literatures of marketing and consumer behaviour research. Traditionally, research in this domain has sought to explain how media images (e.g., online and offline advertising, movies and print media) disseminate a plethora of meanings, signs and symbols amongst people and how such visual means contribute to people’s sense of identity and lifestyles choices (see Appadurai, 1990; Arnould & Thompson, 2005; Featherstone, 1982, 2006; Slater, 1997). Mehita Iqani’s ‘Consumer Culture and the Media: Magazines in the Public Eye’ contributes to this eminent scholarship. In a refreshing manner, the author de-familiarises the reader with magazine covers in news-stands, a context that has been probably too familiar (to most of us) to be scrutinised in sufficient depth. Adopting a multimodal ethnographic approach (participatory observations and semiotic analysis of magazine covers), Iqani calls for a cultural critique of self in a society dominated by the ideology of consumer culture. She invites us to change our mindset about our surroundings in our everyday life situations in which we are surrounded not only by ‘the operations of the global trade system’ but also ‘symbolically, in terms of the images and messages that saturate everyday life and culture’ (p. 2). As the author contends, such culture in the commercial imagery of our society fills every aspect of public space, to an extent that it leaves nothing available for visual enjoyment.