chapter  6
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Advertising, gender and ‘race’ in constructions of the consumer in the nineteenth century
ByAllison Cavanagh
Pages 14

Advertisements have an unusual status as cultural artefacts and historical documents. They are most often derided by cultural analysts, seen as intrusive ephemera which legitimate and extend the reach of a shoddy commodity culture and its underpinning ideologies. Socialist realism in art required the artist to present positive images of the present, to show an optimistic view of the future, to use a simplified and accessible vocabulary of images, and show images of people worthy of emulation. In the same sense, Michael Schudson argues, advertisements can be understood as capitalist realism', a set of aesthetic conventions link[ed] to the political economy whose values they celebrate and promote' for they too are diffused with optimism, display positive images of the typical' citizen as a role model, and use a range of accessible and easily to comprehend images. At the same time, they were not afraid to appeal to jingoistic sentiments.