Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 5: Qualitative Research in Advertising: Twenty Years in Revolution
Linda M. Scott An impressive body of qualitative research on the topic of advertising has emerged in marketing since the paradigm shift of the 1980s. Here, perhaps more clearly than elsewhere in the literature, we can see that the challenge to practice made in that decade was not just a matter of advocating new methods, but entailed questioning the purposes and interests that research in this ﬁeld would serve. Work on advertising was aﬀected, as were other areas of marketing inquiry, by the shift in epistemology that attended the interpretive turn. In all areas, the notion of consumption as a meaning-based activity (as opposed to a more economistic, disembodied model of purchasing) had implications for research axiology, as well. Of particular import for advertising work, however, was the shift toward understanding the advertisement as a text and, thus, the consumer as a reader. By embracing the textuality of advertising experience, qualitative researchers opened the door to the indeterminacy of reading, to the reality of advertising as a cultural practice, and ultimately to the larger social questions that attend any purposive attempt to encourage consumption in postindustrial society. The result has been a corpus of work too large and varied to be covered in a single chapter. My intention, therefore, is to discuss articles I have selected to represent the largest areas of inquiry. In assessing the scope of the literature to be covered, I have collected works published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Marketing,...
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