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Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity Proposal


Abstract

The concept of social identity in modern society is increasingly becoming important in a global society as people try to identify with specific cultures and practices. Despite the impact technology has on culture, there is still an attempt by people from various parts of the world to uphold the values and beliefs of their ancestors. However, some scholars now argue that advertising in fashion is having a significant impact on social identity. People all over the world, irrespective of their geographic location or socio-cultural values, want to be seen as fashionable. They want their dress code and mannerism to be as modern as possible as a way of identifying with the finest in society.

However, the only way that people can identify what is trendy is through the media. It means that consumers do not dictate what is trendy or not. They rely on what the media deems as trendy to know when and how to redefine their social identity. Social scientists, especially the marketers, have realized this fact and are using it to their advantage. Advertising in fashion is not becoming a major tool that defines social identity. People identify with the best as stated in the media. The study seeks to determine how advertising on fashion impact on social identity. The study will use both primary and secondary data sources to inform the study. The analysis will be done using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Background

Social identity, in modern human history, is very important as people want to be identified with and seen to belong to a certain group. Morey defines social identity as a person’s sense of who he or she is based on his or her group membership (23). Advertising in fashion is taking full advantage of the need for social identity among their audience to influence their purchasing pattern. As Morey notes, the celebrities in our society have become the symbol of what is ideal in a social setting (55). Top footballers such as Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are portrayed as symbols of perfect men. Top actresses such as Angelina Jolie on the other hand are portrayed as perfect women. As such, what they do, wear, or use is considered the best. Advertising agencies in the fashion industry are keen on getting an endorsement from these top celebrities as a way of making their products popular in the market. Subliminal advertising is increasingly defining the way people behave and the social identity groups they want to be associated with the society.

The world is increasingly becoming a global village where events taking place in the United Kingdom can easily affect someone in the United States and vice versa. The traditional practices and beliefs that are used to define the social identity of people at the local level within different communities have been completely eroded due to global interaction, education, and many other changing socio-economic and political factors. Western culture has dominated the global society, especially through music and movies. Teenagers and young adults want to be associated with global superstars such as John Cena, Jay Z, Lady Gaga, and Lady Gaga among other celebrities. In fashion design, these people are brought out as the epitome of beauty and perfection. People get bombarded with advertisements that focus on what these people do and why society should identify with them.

According to Buckingham, in the past advertising would focus on aligning their product proposition with what the society values and considers as right (34). However, this is changing very rapidly as the advertisers learn how they can manipulate their audience. Instead of relying on what society considers as valuable, they are shaping the beliefs and practices of the society. They are making their audience to unlearn what was considered culturally valuable and to embrace a new culture that is popularized by these celebrities who they then use to advertise their products. Buckingham notes that until recently, same-sex marriage was considered abomination even in the United States (12).

It was spoken about in hushed tones and the American army prohibited the act among its officers. However, top celebrities have been used over the recent past to try and convince the society that although some people may still consider the practice an abomination, we should be tolerant enough to respect others’ decisions. Indeed such a massive change of attitude, to the extent that there are churches that conduct weddings for same-sex marriages is a major change that would not have been imaginable about five decades ago. Numerous other social identity changes have been witnessed over the recent past that is directly attributed to the impact that advertising in fashion has had on society. I am interested in this issue because I want to determine if indeed advertising in fashion is responsible for the moral erosion in our modern society. In this paper, the researcher seeks to determine how advertising in fashion impact on social identity.

Annotated Bibliography

Advertising in fashion as a concept is becoming a major area of research among scholars in modern society. Some of these scholars want to determine the impact that these advertisements have on the purchasing pattern of people within society. Others want to determine how these advertisements are shaping the socio-cultural practices, while others want to investigate the changing patterns taken in advertising. The works of these scholars will be critical in determining how to impact upon social identity fashion in modern society. The researcher will conduct a comprehensive annotation of bibliographies relevant to this study.

Leavitt, Peter, et al. “Frozen in Time: The Impact of Native American Media Representations on Identity and Self-Understanding.” Journal of Social Issue, vol. 71, no. 1, 2015, pp. 39-53.

According to o these scholars, in modern society, the media plays a critical role in helping people determine their social identity. The United States is home to people of very diverse backgrounds. These people are unique in various ways. Native Americans are different from Whites or other groups in society. The minorities in this country have been subjected to discrimination and stereotyping for a long time. The scholars argue that irrespective of one’s social background, media plays a critical role in defining their social identity. The time when children would be taken through traditional education systems where they are taught about their identity by the elders is long gone. They now rely on school and what they learn in their immediate environment to determine their social identity.

As such, media is central to the determination of people’s identity. However, the media has completely ignored Native Americans, especially in movies and songs that are defining popular culture. In the very few instances where Native Americans are given media attention, negative stereotypes play a significant role that it becomes almost impossible for one to identify with such characters. In many cases they are portrayed as villains in popular movies, making it impossible for the Native Americans to develop admiration towards them. The advertisers would always use the stars in these movies when it comes to advertising. As such, the Native Americans are forced to embrace a new culture that is completely different from what was embraced by their forefathers. The scholars are lamenting about the eroding culture among the Native Americans, largely attributed to mass media and advertising in fashion.

Tsai, Sunny, and Rita Linjuan. “Motivations and Antecedents of Consumer Engagement with Brand Pages on Social Networking Sites.” Journal of Interactive Advertisement. vol. 13, no. 2, 2013, pp. 76-87.

Social media has completely transformed advertising in modern society. In the past, passing promotional messages to the consumers was on a one-way mode where advertisers could not get instant feedback from the customers through the same platforms. However, that has completely changed in modern society thanks to the emergence of social media. The social media platforms are making it possible for advertising agencies to engage their consumers in an interactive platform. Social networking sites enable advertisers to engage the companies promoting specific brands. The study looked at both implicit and explicit theories related to consumer behavior and how they are influenced by promotional messages. It looked at para-social interaction, community identification, and perceived source credibility as the main relationship factors that define consumer engagement with brands in social media.

In their article, the scholars contend that although advertisements in fashion are keen on dictating to the audience what they believe is trendy sometimes they reach out directly to the people and engage them when coming up with new trends. They get to ask them what their views are and what they would want to see in the new products. Facebook is one of the social media platforms actively being used by top brands to engage the targeted audiences to not only come up with new products but also new promotional messages. This non-manipulative approach of advertising is not very common in the fashion industry where there is always some kind of a race towards the new and the unique. An item introduced in the market today may not last long before being considered old-fashioned and that requires some degree of manipulating the audience.

Wood, Natalie, and Michael Solomon. Virtual Social Identity and Consumer Behavior. Taylor & Francis, 2015.

The world is rapidly changing thanks to the major changes that have been witnessed in emerging technologies. In this book, the scholars argue that technology is not just making work easy but it is also introducing a new way of life. The emergence of virtual reality is making it possible for people to lead a life that would otherwise be just a pipe dream. Through virtual reality, a person who has never been to the moon can create an image of him in the moon and experience what it would be like to be in the moon. VR technology makes the experience so real that one feels like he or she is actually in the moon while in essence he or she is just seated in a VR studio at home, in school, or along the streets.

Social media is also making it possible for people to sometimes assume identities that are not their own, making it possible to impersonate others or pretend to be someone else. They call this phenomenon of virtual social identity. The scholars argue that virtual social identity may have a significant impact on the behavior of people. The idea that one can do or say anything without his or her identity being revealed creates some sense of fearlessness. The invisibility that is created by the virtual mask makes one believe that one can commit a crime and get away with it. The sense of responsibility may be lost completely making it easy for one to be tempted into criminal activities. The media portrayal of criminals who engage in cybercrime also motivates people to use virtual social identity to harm others.

McDonald Matthew, Stephen Wearing. Social Psychology and Theories of Consumer Culture: A Political Economy Perspective. Taylor & Francis, 2013.

The work of these scholars focused on social psychology in modern society and theories of consumer culture. The book looks at some of the major theories and models that define consumer behavior. Other than the explicit Theory of Demand and Supply, the book also explores other implicit psychoanalytic theories of consumers. It is common to find a situation where a customer opts to purchase an item that is expensive not because he or she has used it before, but because of the belief that it offers a better value than the one that is priced cheaply. A rational person would be expected to opt for a cheaper product. However, through media campaigns, perception is often created in the minds of people that when something is expensive, then it offers an added value to its users. The scholars also look at the issue of self-identity in modern consumer culture. In theories of human development, it is believed that adolescents are the most affected by the need for belonging. However, the scholars believe that irrespective of one’s age, there will always be a desire to belong to a given group. The kind of materials exposed to the people in the media influences their perception of what they believe to be ideal. As such, they tend to define their self-identity based on these perceptions. Consumer culture is, therefore, influenced by the beliefs of people. Their purchasing pattern will be based on what they have been made to believe is the right thing in society.

Tamara, Ansons, et al. Handbook of Research on Digital Media and Advertising: User Generated Content Consumption. IGI Global, 2012.

The digital media has completely transformed advertising in the contemporary world. In the past, advertisers used mass media to pass promotional campaigns in the market. However, the emergence of social media has completely transformed promotional strategies. While using mass media, the strategy was to come up with a promotional message that would be convincing to the audience. However, scholars note that the strategy is changing when using social media platforms. The focus is to pass a compelling message that is not only convincing but also capable of eliciting positive debate among the audience. In social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the audiences can and often respond to promotional messages, especially when they feel that what a brand promises is not what it delivers.

The firm must first confirm that its product proposition is aligned with product attributes. As such, those who have used the product can conform to the rest of the population that what they were promised is what was delivered. User-generated content in this context refers to a deliberate attempt by the advertising agencies to ensure that the promotional campaigns is exactly what the audience expects and identifies within the market. The advertisement agencies must, therefore, understand the popular culture as portrayed in the media. However, the scholars warn that not everything portrayed in the media makes up popular culture. That is why digital media makes it easy for firms to conduct research and to understand what consumers consider as valuable. When developing advertising messages, these scholars argue that in mind should be the need to ensure that their values and beliefs are clearly understood.

Buckingham, David. The Material Child: Growing Up in Consumer Culture. Polity, 2011.

In modern society, children are growing up in a highly commercialized world. They are constantly bombarded by constant manipulative advertisements that make them see the world from a completely different perspective compared with the older generation. The scholar argues that it may not be easy to determine whether the modern-day children are either victims of manipulative marketing or willing participants in the materialized world. On one end, it is easy to believe that they are victims of these manipulative advertisements. They are constantly reminded that certain things are good for them. For example, confectionaries are advertised in such admirable ways that these children cannot avoid the temptation to take them. So are other products such as hamburgers and pizzas. Video games are also popularized in media campaigns. However, no one is actively promoting health habits such as regular exercise and lean food. These children grow up valuing things that pose health risks such as obesity, diabetes, and coronary diseases. They have been manipulated so much by the advertisements that they forget the need to lead healthy lives.

The situation is complicated by peer pressure. Given that their peers are also impacted by these advertisements, a social identity is formed that these children would want to belong. It means that even if they had the personal drive to lead a different lifestyle, the pressure from the peers would force them into these practices. On the other end, the author argues that these children tend to become competent participants in consumer culture. They get to learn about the dangers of some types of food, the need to engage in physical activities, and the health benefits of staying healthy. However, they continue to embrace the consumer culture as promoted by the campaigners. It would be expected that as rational people, they would follow what they know would be beneficial to them and their loved ones. Their decision to continue with a given behavioral pattern despite the obvious dangers makes them party to the consumer culture, not victims.

 Trending fashion designs.
Figure 1: Trending fashion designs.

Jobling, Paul. Advertising Menswear: Masculinity and Fashion in the British Media Since 1945. McMillan, 2014.

In this book, the scholar specifically focuses on the impact that advertising had on menswear soon after the Second World War to the modern society. The book makes an important to refer to the concept of ‘peacock male’ that emerged in the 1950s. In this era in British society, a new culture emerged where men paid special attention to what they wore. The culture then was promoted by the media, emphasized on the need for men to be like peacocks, always attractive and keen on their attire. The United Kingdom was recovering from the devastating war and companies were experiencing a boom. However, these companies needed to address a specific problem in the fashion industry.

Women were more focused on fashion than men were, and this meant that firms specializing in menswear registered low sales. To address this problem, they came up with and aggressively promoted the culture of peacock men. This culture was seen as the only way of introducing a new social identity among men. To be a peacock man, one had to dress up in a given manner. Using celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, the advertisers were able to inculcate the culture among British men, thereby promoting sales in menswear. In the 1960s as globalization took shape, international celebrities such as John Wayne were used to promote popular culture in British society. To this day, advertising menswear still uses top celebrities to promote sales. The figure below shows popular images during peacock men culture

Men’s fashion wear.
Figure 2: Men’s fashion wear.

Methodology

In this proposal development stage, it is important to define the methodology that the researcher will use when conducting the actual research. The methodology helps in defining steps that will be followed to collect and analyze data to respond to the set hypotheses. The researcher intends to use both primary and secondary sources of data to answer research questions. Secondary data will be obtained from books, journal articles, and reliable online sources. Primary data will be collected from a sample of respondents. The researcher intends to interview experts in these areas of knowledge when collecting the needed data.

Research Questions

In this proposal, it is necessary to come up with questions that must be answered to help achieve research objectives. The following are the primary questions that will form the basis of our research questionnaire to be used during the interviews:

  1. What is the relationship between fashion and social identity in modern society?
  2. How is fashioned shaped by advertisements in modern society?
  3. How has advertising in fashion impacted upon social identity?
  4. Why would people allow themselves to be influenced in decision making by fashion advertisements?
  5. What can be done to align emerging fashion with cultural values and identities?

The researcher will use both primary and secondary sources of data to respond to the above questions.

Research Hypotheses

The research hypotheses try to respond to the research questions using preliminary data during the research. The following are the research hypotheses that the researcher will test during primary data analysis.

  • H1. A close relationship exists between fashion and social identity in modern society.
  • H2. Fashion can only take shape in society when promoted through advertisements.
  • H3. Advertising in fashion has introduced a new social identity in society.
  • H4. The decisions that people make are often informed by the knowledge gathered in media platforms.
  • H5. Advertisers need to embrace cultural values and practices when promoting their products.

These hypotheses will be tested during the primary data analysis stage after collecting data from the field.

Research Approach and Methodology

It is critical to define the research approach at this stage to help define the kind of data that should be collected from the field. This study will take the form of a survey. It means that the researcher will go identify the appropriate respondents through a simple sampling method and then engage them in an interview to find a response to the above questions. A face-to-face interview will be appropriate in this study. It will allow the researcher to engage the respondents in discussions that will address any unclear issues in the study. After collecting the needed data, the researcher will use a mixed methodology of analyzing the data. The quantitative research method will help in quantifying the magnitude of the impact advertising in fashion has had upon social identity. The method will enable the researcher to present the data in graphical form. Qualitative analysis will help in explaining the phenomena involved in advertising in the fashion and social identity development. The two methods will facilitate comprehensive data analysis.

Research Design

When planning to conduct a research project, it is important to come up with a comprehensive action plan that identifies the individual activities that should be conducted to achieve the desired outcome. The plan should schedule the activities and identify the milestones in the project. The following table 1 shows an action plan for the scheduled activities in this project.

Activity/Time April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 Aug 2017 Sep 2017 Oct 2017
Proposal Development X
Approval of Proposal X
Sampling and Informing X
Review of Literatures X
Primary Data Collection X
Analysis of Primary Data X
Compilation and Presentation X

The graphical presentation of the activities as shown above identifies the individual activities that must be accomplished and their timeline to ensure that overall success is achieved in this study. The first activity is proposal development. The researcher is currently developing a proposal that will guide the process of conducting the research. It is scheduled to be completed within April. The next step will be the approval of the proposal by the lecturer. The lecturer may want to adjust the proposal in any way or will be convinced that the proposal is adequate to initiate the research project. The researcher expects the process of approving this proposal to take one month given that there are proposals for other students that also need approval. When approved, the researcher will move to the next step of sampling the respondents are directly requesting them to be part of the study. This must be done as early as possible to ensure that we have the participants needed for this research.

The researcher will then go to the next phase of reviewing existing literature on this topic. The process of collecting all the needed secondary data sources and reviewing them is expected to take one month. The researcher will then go to the field to conduct the primary research. As mentioned before, it will involve a face-to-face interview with the respondents. After collecting the needed data, the researcher will conduct analysis using qualitative and quantitative methods. The last task will be to compile and present the report. As shown in the above plan, it is expected that the whole process will be completed by the end of October 2017. It is assumed that the researcher will not encounter any major disruptive obstacles that may halt the entire process.

Works Cited

Buckingham, David. The Material Child: Growing Up in Consumer Culture. Polity, 2011.

Jobling, Paul. Advertising Menswear: Masculinity and Fashion in the British Media Since 1945. McMillan, 2014.

Kuada, John. Research Methodology: A Project Guide for University Students. Samfundslitteratur, 2012.

Leavitt, Peter, et al. “Frozen in Time: The Impact of Native American Media Representations on Identity and Self-Understanding.” Journal of Social Issue, vol. 71, no. 1, 2015, pp. 39-53.

McDonald Matthew, Stephen Wearing. Social Psychology and Theories of Consumer Culture: A Political Economy Perspective. Taylor & Francis, 2013.

Morey, Anne. Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the Twilight Series. Routledge, 2016.

Moss, Mark. The Media and the Models of Masculinity. Lexington Books, 2011.

Tamara, Ansons, et al. Handbook of Research on Digital Media and Advertising: User Generated Content Consumption. IGI Global, 2012.

Tsai, Sunny and Rita Linjuan. “Motivations and Antecedents of Consumer Engagement with Brand Pages on Social Networking Sites.” Journal of Interactive Advertisement. vol. 13, no. 2, 2013, pp. 76-87.

Wood, Natalie, and Michael Solomon. Virtual Social Identity and Consumer Behavior. Taylor & Francis, 2015.

Appendix

Questionnaire

Background information

  1. What is your age (Tick as appropriate)?
    1. 18-24
    2. 25-32
    3. 33-41
    4. 42-55
    5. Above 55
  2. What is your level of education (Tick as appropriate?)
    1. High school graduate
    2. College graduate
    3. Undergraduate
    4. Holder of master’s degree
    5. Holder of doctorate degree
    6. Other (Explain)
  3. What is your area of professional qualification (Tick as appropriate)?
    1. Marketer
    2. Psychologist
    3. Other (Explain)
  4. How long have you been working in your area of specialization
    1. Less than 2 years
    2. 2-5 years
    3. 6-10 years
    4. 11-15 years
    5. Over 15 years

How advertising in fashion impact upon social identity

  • What is the relationship between fashion and social identity in the modern society?
  • How is fashioned shaped by advertisement in the modern society?
  • How has advertising in fashion impacted upon social identity?
  • Why would people allow themselves to be influenced in decision making by fashion advertisements?
  • What can be done to align the emerging fashion with cultural values and identities?
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IvyPanda. (2020, November 9). Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/fashion-advertising-impact-on-social-identity/

Work Cited

"Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity." IvyPanda, 9 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/fashion-advertising-impact-on-social-identity/.

1. IvyPanda. "Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity." November 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/fashion-advertising-impact-on-social-identity/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity." November 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/fashion-advertising-impact-on-social-identity/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity." November 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/fashion-advertising-impact-on-social-identity/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Fashion Advertising Impact on Social Identity'. 9 November.

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