VOL: 2,  NO: 1/2,  113-129, 2005-1/2


Selling modernity through advertising: Technological progress and its reflections on the early 20th Century American advertising




Mustafa Kemal University Faculty of Fine Arts, TURKEY


Received: February 2005                       Final Acceptance: December 2005


This paper contextualizes the relationship between advertising and technology by categorizing the different dimensions of the relationship and by examining the parallels between their histories during the early 20th century America. Investigating the relevant social, cultural, and political conditions surrounding advertising practice with a historical framework will help reveal technological change and its sociocultural implications.


The histories of advertising and technology, examined together, show that their development has mutually reinforced each other. While advertising has helped the advance of technology within the capitalist system by creating markets for the mass produced products, increasing sales, and helping technology become mainstream, technology has assisted in advertising’s achievement of unlimited cultural authority through technical means and possibilities. The side effects of the relationship between advertising and technology have been social and cultural: the establishment of the values of a capitalist system despite its negative aspects, in addition to the establishment of social roles.  


In examining the contextual dimensions of advertising and technology, this paper uses examples, specifically, from the early twentieth century America where the development of advertising and technology gained momentum with the advance of modernity and industrialism. These examples also help in the discussion of the relationship between advertising and the various politics of technology.



Keywords: Advertising; modernity; advertising history; history of technology; technological change; relationship between advertising and technology


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