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Growing old in contemporary media and consumption culture

Grant number: 13/20154-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): February 03, 2014
Effective date (End): August 02, 2014
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Communications - Theory of Communication
Principal Investigator:Gisela Grangeiro da Silva Castro
Grantee:Gisela Grangeiro da Silva Castro
Host Investigator: Mike Featherstone
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing (ESPM). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of London, England  


This research project centers on media representations of old age in advertising campaigns in both Brazilian and British television. This bi-national comparative study investigates how media, consumption and old age interact in Brazil and in the UK. The advertising industry in both of these contexts is well acclaimed internationally. This project aims to verify similarities and differences in the ways advertising campaigns represent old age in both the Old World and the New World. The research will be held at the Sociology Department at Goldsmith's College, University of London, supervised by Dr. Mike Featherstone. Professor Featherstone is the internationally acclaimed author of Consumer Culture and Postmodernism (Sage), and co-autor (together with Andrew Wernick) of Images of Aging: cultural representations of later life (Routledge). This expertise makes him the perfect choice to supervise this study. The relevance of this research project is evident due to the fact that populations are aging all over the world. Both consumption and old age are now in the center of social debate, even in traditionally young countries such as Brazil. The study of the social construction of the ways of being and making sense of the different stages of our life span is especially meaningful when it focuses the baby boomer generation, whose members are now in their seventies. This is a generation that in a way gave rise to a model of youth that is considered emblematic even today. The transformation of the so called third age in a market segment sets the economy in motion and renders new configurations in the cartographies of consumption. In its logics of production, advertising mobilizes well established stereotypes and also contributes to build new social representations of the elders in social imaginary. Different models of youth, adulthood, old age are found today. This is precisely the symbolic richness in which advertising finds elements to build its discourse. Representations in each campaign follow specific media strategies this research project will map. The Post Graduate Program on Communications and Consumption Practices at the Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing (ESPM) finds its characteristic research axis in the many interfaces communication-consumption. This project is perfectly in tune with this theme scope. Despite the stimulating diversity of Communications research in Brazil, the aging process has not yet received due attention. While several Brazilian scholars are dedicated to a variety of topics related to childhood and youth, later stages of life remain virtually uncharted. This research project on media, consumption and aging challenges the "conspiracy of silence" denounced by Simone de Beauvoir decades ago. It is our intention to contribute to fill this disturbing gap in our area of knowledge. (AU)

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