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From Naturalisation to Sacralisation: Changing Paradigms for Analysing Visual Advertising
Unformatted Document Text:  15 15 a simulated reality and to the process of perception and he draws upon physiological evidence about the perception process to discuss this. Thus, he argues advertising often refers to the way we look. He argues, for example, that women with dilated pupils indicate a state of sexual pleasure and that advertisements imitate this to produce effects in the reader. Part 7: Frames :Redefining Naturalisation Media analysis has swung like a pendulum of theories of domination to theories of resistance. However most recently, the pendulum has swung back again towards an understanding of media as being a system of naturalising its own power. What current theories can help us understand this history and provide an understanding of contemporary advertising? One of the most interesting tendencies in current British media theory is Nick Couldry’s (2000) work which examines the role of belief in media. He has developed a theory of media power where he claims that Durkheim’s distinction of sacred/profane has been increasingly replaced in popular belief systems by a distinction of media world/ordinary world. Although he does not discuss advertising directly, he concludes that media have power through a type of symbolic geography, an organisation of space where we constantly define our ordinary lives in relation to semi-sacred media worlds. His work takes an ethnographic approach and studies how people talk about media. Couldry(2000:26) again uses the all pervasive metaphor of the frame but now it constitutes the definition of where media is consumed. “the media frame involves a complex and quite definite division between two types of place, :a dispersed mass of sites where media consumption takes place, and a much more limited number of sites where the media are produced” Couldry studies the boundaries of these two worlds, where non-media people from the ordinary world have contact with media people and the media world. He goes on to argue that this process is fundamental to the naturalisation of inequality and to the use of symbolic power. “Media power is reproduced because it has come to seem natural.” Couldry:26. Although Couldry uses a large number of religious concepts, speaking of media pilgrims, media rituals, witnessing, sacred and so on he does not extend his analysis of belief to a concept of media sacralisation or to an understanding of the mechanisms of making believe in the media age. He in fact goes back to the terms used by Roland Barthes and Judith Williamson of naturalisation. His work, like most which gives primacy to the political has not been applied to advertising. It may well be in considering his notion of how media has come to be seen as the equivalent of the sacred that we can elaborate a theory which allows us to synthesise earlier work. on the relationship between religious belief and advertising. Certain scholars have already pointed out the strong links between advertising and religion. Featherstone(1991) has argued that the sacred situates itself outside religion and in consumer culture. Marchand (1985: 282) explains how 1920’s advertising used religious iconography such as halos and ethereal light. Jhally (1989) argues that advertising has similarities with a tribal fetishism and magic. Fowles also argues that advertising proselytises for belief in capitalism but that this is constantly resisted by consumers and audiences

Authors: Doyle, Waddick.
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a simulated reality and to the process of perception and he draws upon physiological evidence
about the perception process to discuss this. Thus, he argues advertising often refers to the
way we look. He argues, for example, that women with dilated pupils indicate a state of
sexual pleasure and that advertisements imitate this to produce effects in the reader.
Part 7: Frames :Redefining Naturalisation

Media analysis has swung like a pendulum of theories of domination to theories of resistance.
However most recently, the pendulum has swung back again towards an understanding of
media as being a system of naturalising its own power. What current theories can help us
understand this history and provide an understanding of contemporary advertising? One of the
most interesting tendencies in current British media theory is Nick Couldry’s (2000) work
which examines the role of belief in media. He has developed a theory of media power where
he claims that Durkheim’s distinction of sacred/profane has been increasingly replaced in
popular belief systems by a distinction of media world/ordinary world. Although he does not
discuss advertising directly, he concludes that media have power through a type of symbolic
geography, an organisation of space where we constantly define our ordinary lives in relation
to semi-sacred media worlds.

His work takes an ethnographic approach and studies how people talk about media.
Couldry(2000:26) again uses the all pervasive metaphor of the frame but now it constitutes
the definition of where media is consumed.

the media frame involves a complex and quite definite division between two types of place, :a
dispersed mass of sites where media consumption takes place, and a much more limited
number of sites where the media are produced
Couldry studies the boundaries of these two worlds, where non-media people from the
ordinary world have contact with media people and the media world. He goes on to argue
that this process is fundamental to the naturalisation of inequality and to the use of symbolic
power. “Media power is reproduced because it has come to seem natural.” Couldry:26.
Although Couldry uses a large number of religious concepts, speaking of media pilgrims,
media rituals, witnessing, sacred and so on he does not extend his analysis of belief to a
concept of media sacralisation or to an understanding of the mechanisms of making believe in
the media age. He in fact goes back to the terms used by Roland Barthes and Judith
Williamson of naturalisation.

His work, like most which gives primacy to the political has not been applied to advertising.
It may well be in considering his notion of how media has come to be seen as the equivalent
of the sacred that we can elaborate a theory which allows us to synthesise earlier work. on the
relationship between religious belief and advertising.
Certain scholars have already pointed out the strong links between advertising and religion.
Featherstone(1991) has argued that the sacred situates itself outside religion and in consumer
culture. Marchand (1985: 282) explains how 1920’s advertising used religious iconography
such as halos and ethereal light. Jhally (1989) argues that advertising has similarities with a
tribal fetishism and magic. Fowles also argues that advertising proselytises for belief in
capitalism but that this is constantly resisted by consumers and audiences


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