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Osgoode Hall Law Journal

Authors

Iain Ramsay

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This essay is a critique of current legal and public policy discourse concerning the power of advertising to affect consumer tastes and preferences. Two models are critiqued: advertising as information and advertising as preference manipulation. These models are then contrasted with approaches drawn from cultural studies which, drawing on interpretive, rather than empirical, knowledge, suggest an alternative understanding of the role of advertising in a society dominated by "institutions of normalization" rather than by law. As a reflective critique, the essay does not conclude with any blueprint for reform but argues for greater study of the contradictory strands in consumer culture and of the extent to which consumption practices may become sites for social transformation.

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