On the Production of Advertisers and Consumers in the Twentieth Century
(project duration 2010-2017)
The research project studies how advertising culture produced advertisers and consumers, two social figures whose historical geneses are inextricably bound up with one another. It analyzes discourses on advertising and the ways in which they were materialized in apparatuses, artefacts, and practices of self-conduct and the conduct of others. It seeks to contribute to the historicization of the human being, "one of the least theorized categories and a veritable black box of historical analysis" (Jakob Tanner).The study poses a number of questions related to the history of emotions, which are particularly productive when researching how economic actors are subjectivized. It seeks to complicate these questions by integrating approaches and insights from media history, the history of knowledge, and the history of science.
The project focuses on the period between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twenty-first century. It centers on Germany, but takes a transfer-historical perspective. It draws on a wealth of different sources, including advertising journals and books, educational material and curricula, autobiographies, a wide range of multimedia advertising material, and contemporaneous literature from disciplines like economics, psychology, and sociology. The findings are rounded out by comprehensive material from the archives of different German and American companies.