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Hearts, Minds, and Maladies: Toward a Critical Theory of the Commodification of Pharmaceuticals
Unformatted Document Text:  6 aesthetic metamorphosis. As Roland Marchand (1985) explains, advertisements had “become ‘modern’ precisely to the extent to which they transcended or denied their essential economic nature as mass communications and achieved subjective qualities and a ‘personal’ tone” (p. 9). Still, advertising’s purpose in the body politic has been explicit for much of the century. The founder of behavioral psychology and vice-president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency pointed in 1923 to “the need to eradicate the social attitudes which resist consumption by proposing a formula of the satisfaction of needs by commodities – commmoditised sensual gratification” (Mattelart 1990 p. 147). In this exact vain Edward Bernays explained how most Americans have “only six years of schooling.” As such, leaders must act toward “engineering consent” of the consentingly governed. “Today it is impossible to overestimate the importance of engineering consent; it affects almost every aspect of our daily lives” (Bernays, in Carey 1997, p. 82). Walter Lippmann reached similar conclusions regarding the malleability of the masses. “New communication and transportation technologies had created a ‘world that we have to deal with politically [that is] out of reach, out of sight, out of mind’” (Simpson 1994 p. 17). The case of modern drug advertising provides us with a unique communicative point where externally perceived and objective reality coalesces with and harnesses the subjective universe within in more than just a symbolic sense. Indeed, to wield control over the actions of constituitive elements of the body politic and render them functional has been a preoccupation –if not the unrealizable dream -- of the modern social scientist. To confirm that control physiologically may in fact be this dream’s penultimate consummation. Herbert Spencer (1969), for example, understood the biological universe within as a functional template of the modern social world without. In his view,

Authors: Tracy, James.
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aesthetic metamorphosis. As Roland Marchand (1985) explains, advertisements
had “become ‘modern’ precisely to the extent to which they transcended or
denied their essential economic nature as mass communications and achieved
subjective qualities and a ‘personal’ tone” (p. 9).
Still, advertising’s purpose in the body politic has been explicit for much
of the century. The founder of behavioral psychology and vice-president of the J.
Walter Thompson advertising agency pointed in 1923 to “the need to eradicate
the social attitudes which resist consumption by proposing a formula of the
satisfaction of needs by commodities – commmoditised sensual gratification”
(Mattelart 1990 p. 147). In this exact vain Edward Bernays explained how most
Americans have “only six years of schooling.” As such, leaders must act toward
“engineering consent” of the consentingly governed. “Today it is impossible to
overestimate the importance of engineering consent; it affects almost every
aspect of our daily lives” (Bernays, in Carey 1997, p. 82). Walter Lippmann
reached similar conclusions regarding the malleability of the masses. “New
communication and transportation technologies had created a ‘world that we
have to deal with politically [that is] out of reach, out of sight, out of mind’”
(Simpson 1994 p. 17). The case of modern drug advertising provides us with a
unique communicative point where externally perceived and objective reality
coalesces with and harnesses the subjective universe within in more than just a
symbolic sense. Indeed, to wield control over the actions of constituitive
elements of the body politic and render them functional has been a
preoccupation –if not the unrealizable dream -- of the modern social scientist. To
confirm that control physiologically may in fact be this dream’s penultimate
consummation. Herbert Spencer (1969), for example, understood the biological
universe within as a functional template of the modern social world without. In
his view,


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