Advertising is often used to illustrate popular and academic debates about cultural and economic life. This book reviews cultural and sociological approaches to advertising and, using historical evidence, demonstrates that a rethink of the analysis of advertising is long overdue. Liz McFall surveys dominant and problematic tendencies within the current discourse. This book offers a thorough review of the literature and also introduces fresh empirical evidence. Advertising: A Cultural Economy uses a historical study of advertising to regain a sense of how it has been patterned, not by the `epoch', but by the interaction of institutional, organisational and technological forces.

Introduction: The Quaint Device of Advertising

Introduction: The Quaint Device of Advertising

Introduction: The quaint device of advertising

[T]he time of men does not have the form of an evolution but precisely that of a history. (Foucault, 1981:8)

An article in a 1652 issue of the Mercurius Mastix laments the appearance in the press of yet another variation on the already extensive gamut of trade announcements purporting to be ‘epistles’, ‘petitions’, ‘iterations’, or ‘news from abroad’.1 This new variation is referred to only as a ‘quaint device in their trading’, but it is clear that the object in question, though not yet known by that term, was an early form of advertisement. It took some time before the general term ‘advertisement’ was settled upon, with alternatives like ‘puffs’, ‘bubbles’, even ‘impertinences’, in circulation ...

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