The objects of affection : semiotics and consumer culture.

By: Berger, Arthur Asa.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Semiotics and popular culture.Publisher: New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010Description: xiii, 198 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.ISBN: 9780230103733.Subject(s): Communication | Object (Aesthetics) | Language and culture | Culture-Semiotic models | Material culture | Consumer behavior | Semiotics-Psychological aspects | Semiotics-Social aspectsDDC classification: 302.2BER
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

In this book, pre-eminent semiotician Arthur Asa Berger decodes the meanings of common objects of consumption and their perceived 'sacredness' in consumerist cultures. Using semiotic theory, consumer culture is dissected in new and fascinating ways.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments (p. xi)
  • Part I Semiotic Theory
  • 1 The Science of Signs (p. 3)
  • The Semiotic Theories of Saussure and Peirce: An Overview (p. 5)
  • Some Contemporary Semiotic Theorists (p. 11)
  • Symbols (p. 14)
  • Denotation and Connotation (p. 15)
  • Metaphor and Metonymy (p. 16)
  • Language and Speech (p. 20)
  • Codes (p. 23)
  • Acura: An Example of Applied Semiotic Analysis (p. 27)
  • No Sign as a Sign (p. 28)
  • Signs within Signs (p. 29)
  • Signs That Lie (p. 29)
  • 2 Consumer Cultures (p. 33)
  • Defining Consumer Cultures (p. 34)
  • The Sacred Origin of Consumer Cultures (p. 36)
  • Psychological Imperatives in Consumer Cultures (p. 40)
  • Marxist Theory and Consumer Cultures (p. 42)
  • Jean Baudrillard on Advertising and Consumer Cultures (p. 46)
  • 3 Marketing Theory and Semiotics (p. 55)
  • Ernest Dichter and Motivation Research (p. 56)
  • Mary Douglas and Grid-Group Theory (p. 58)
  • New Strategist Publications (p. 61)
  • Claritas Explains That ôBirds of a Feather Flock Togetherö (p. 62)
  • Complications for Marketers (p. 68)
  • Semiotics and Marketing Theory (p. 69)
  • Part II Semiotic Applications
  • 4 Brands and Identity: We Are Our Brands (p. 75)
  • Fashion and Identity (p. 76)
  • Semiotics and Brands (p. 78)
  • Style Choices and Identity (p. 81)
  • Hats (p. 81)
  • Hair (p. 84)
  • Folklore, Myths, and Hair (p. 85)
  • A Semiotic Approach to Hairstyles in the Eighties (p. 86)
  • Blondeness: The Importance of Hair Color (p. 87)
  • Designer Eyeglasses and Sunglasses (p. 88)
  • Teeth (p. 90)
  • Wristwatches (p. 92)
  • Facial Hair in Men (p. 95)
  • Fragrances (p. 97)
  • Brand Narcissism and L'Oréal Fragrances (p. 98)
  • Neckties (p. 101)
  • Shoes (p. 104)
  • Handbags and Messenger Bags (p. 107)
  • Brand Extensions and Lifestyle Signifiers (p. 110)
  • Style and the Postmodern Problematic (p. 112)
  • 5 The Objects of Our Affection (p. 115)
  • Coffee (p. 117)
  • The Toaster (p. 122)
  • Swaddling Cloths (p. 126)
  • The ôEvangelicalö Hamburger (p. 129)
  • French-Fried Potatoes (p. 131)
  • Fountain Pens and Ink (p. 134)
  • Bikinis (p. 136)
  • Vodka (p. 138)
  • Beer (p. 141)
  • Veils (p. 143)
  • Cornflakes (p. 145)
  • White Bread (p. 148)
  • Bagels (p. 151)
  • Myst (p. 153)
  • Furniture (p. 156)
  • Teddy Bears (p. 158)
  • Soap Powders and Detergents (p. 160)
  • Vacuum Cleaners (p. 162)
  • Computers (p. 164)
  • 6 Learning Games and Activities (p. 169)
  • Time Capsule (p. 169)
  • Visit America Brochure (p. 170)
  • Your Brands and What They Reveal (p. 171)
  • Socioeconomic Classes and Brands (p. 172)
  • Automobiles and Personality (p. 173)
  • Spending Spree (p. 173)
  • Insights and Interesting Ideas (p. 174)
  • 7 Coda (p. 175)
  • The Origins of the Objects of Our Affection (p. 175)
  • The Complexity of Objects (p. 177)
  • People Watching and Artifact Analysis (p. 178)
  • The MP3 Shuffle and the Pastiche (p. 180)
  • The Semiotic Perspective and Being ôFar Outö (p. 181)
  • Brands and the Self (p. 182)
  • Semiotics: It's Still With Me (p. 183)
  • Bibliography (p. 185)
  • Index (p. 191)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

This seductively simple yet erudite introduction to semiotics examines the psychological, religious, and cultural roots of consumer culture and the objects individuals buy and brand themselves with. Berger (emer., San Francisco State Univ.) includes a chapter on some of the major semiotic thinkers, and then uses applied semiotics in investigating brands, identity, and consumer culture. The author steps away from critical engagement in chapter 5, "The Objects of Our Affection" (coffee, bikinis, teddy bears, vacuum cleaners, and so on), which is more an anthology of excerpts with signposts for which the reader may or may not be prepared. Though in the coda the author is careful to point out that objects can only be partially interpreted but not fully read, so the observations presented do not attempt to account for affection, or passion, or--in some cases--for the fact that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. However, the novice to semiotics and the art of sign interpretation will find rich food for thought and intellectual engagement. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates. K. Tancheva Cornell University