Working-class Bodies in Advertising

Authored by: Matthew P. McAllister , Litzy Galarza

The Routledge Companion to Media and Class

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138493612
eBook ISBN: 9781351027342
Adobe ISBN:


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In US and Western advertising, class often tends to be “invisibly” coded as middle class, but there is also an enduring tendency to use explicitly marked working class portrayals, a tradition that continues well into modern times. In advertising, the working class can be used to connote a variety of meanings that are celebratory or derogatory as ways to enhance specific meanings of brands: the contrast of the service class to the well-to-do, masculinity, disgusting or degraded bodies, and more specific intersectional meanings when the working class is combined with such identity markers as gender and ethnicity. By examining adverts that use common working class symbols such as the construction worker, this chapter will revenue common tropes of the working class in advertising, engaging with telling examines and exploring the ideological implications of advertising’s appropriation of working class meanings.

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