Adeology: Advertising As a Battlefield of Ideologies in Transitional China

Xin Zhao, University of Utah
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - China has witnessed dramatic social and ideological changes since the turn of last century. As early as the 1880s when China was forced to open its market to the world, advertising began to play important roles in preparing consumers for an emerging consumer society. Till the 1920s, people in some urban areas such as Shanghai had enjoyed a prosperous consumer culture with an established advertising infrastructure and many global brands competing with each other. Happiness was represented in advertising as not from studying Confucian works as it used to be taught before but from possessing consumer goods. Merchants were removed from the lowest social strata and touted by many. China was moving from a Confucian society to a Consumer society. However, when CCP (Chinese Communist Party) took over China, advertising and consumerism were again severely criticized under communist ideology and replaced by political propaganda from public space until the economic reformation in the late 1970s. With more than twenty years of market socialization, advertising in China has entered its second AGolden Age@, and ad expenditures have reached $11 billion in 2001. Consumerism again is promoted as an important incentive to economy. China has become one of the most promising consumer societies in today’s world. Though advertising has long been acknowledged as an important factor in shaping social and ideological changes, such inquiries have seldom been conducted in a Chinese context. What was the role of advertising in this dramatic ideological transition and how the ideology of consumption was established through advertising in China still remain unclear in our literature. This paper attempts to address these questions by drawing upon theories of semiotic, discursive analysis and representation.
[ to cite ]:
Xin Zhao (2004) ,"Adeology: Advertising As a Battlefield of Ideologies in Transitional China", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, eds. Barbara E. Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 684-684.