chapter  4
Pages 25

This chapter will begin to investigate the social, cultural and economic functions of graphic design. It will ask how graphic design relates to society, culture and capitalist economy and it will investigate what roles it plays there. Drucker (1999: 42) suggests that graphic design points to the ‘ideological values and cultural attitudes’ of a society, but it will be argued here that it does more than point or indicate. This chapter will show that graphic design is one of the ways in which those values and attitudes are constructed, reproduced and challenged. It will therefore show that graphic design produces social, cultural and economic relations; to that extent, graphic design is productive of society, culture and economy. Strictly, these matters are closely interconnected; as the following sections will show, it is impossible to deal with any one of them without having to refer to the others. However, it is impossible to write about all of these things all at the same time and some attempt must be made to separate them, in the interests of clarity, while retaining a sense of their interconnectedness. The chapter will deal first with the relation between graphic design, society and culture, explaining the nature of society, the nature of culture and the functions of graphic design with regard to society and culture. It will then deal with the relation between graphic design and economics. This is partly because of the problem already mentioned and partly because economics seems to ‘straddle’ social and cultural issues; consumption, for example, will be shown to be as much a social matter as it is a cultural matter and the anticonsumption movements are as much about global economics as they are about cultures and societies.