After completing the reading listed on this week’s checklist–“The Signs of Shopping” by Anne Norton (83) and “The Science of Shopping” by Malcolm Gladwell (88) both in Signs of Life–complete the following:
To begin our course-long analysis of popular culture, we will begin with the world of marketing and advertising. We might be tempted to believe that because we are the ones choosing to buy certain products and services, that we are making autonomous (free) choices. This feeling, conscious or subconscious, might make us feel empowered – as if it is an act of independence and individuality. However, as you may already realize, and as the first two readings explain, those seemingly autonomous acts are often driven by carefully crafted marketing and advertising forces that can be read as semiotic signs of social and political significance.
We will continue to develop our understanding of these forces as well as their significance over the next couple of weeks. For this discussion:
Visit a local store or supermarket, and study the spatial design. Which of the design strategies that Gladwell describes do you observe, and how do they seem to affect the customers’ behavior? How are some of these techniques similar to what Norton discusses in the section of her essay under the heading “Shopping at Home”? Use at least one quotation from each essay to support or illustrate. (250-300 words)
Using specific details (like particular stores, websites, techniques), answer the following question: Do you think surveillance of customers by retailers (brick-and-mortar and/or online) is beneficial or destructive to society as a whole? (250-300 words).