Wireless transactions: The rhetorical appeals of consumer electronics marketing
AuthorMoeller, Ryan M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation critiques the techniques used to market and distribute consumer electronics products in the United States. Using the wireless networking industry as a case study, I argue that the consumer electronics industry is at the cutting edge of the commercial, consumer nature of U.S. culture and that it operates according to the ideological moorings of what the Frankfurt School called "the culture industry." These moorings include the obscuring of contradiction and the politics of production behind a unified product image, the erasure of individual consumer choice in favor of efficient means of product distribution to an infinite consumer base, an exaggerated presentation of cultural values in product packaging that teach consumers what they should believe and how they should act, and a carefully constructed use of statistical data and quantified consumer behavior to maintain a mass, homogenized culture that opposes characterizations of diversity or heterogeneity that do not expand the consumer base or the target demographic. The rhetorical appeals of consumer electronics marketers depend upon recycled consumer values to create desire through a universal product image, through carefully designed product information, and through highly developed language. The dominant appeals in wireless networking products are to mobility, security, and entertainment. I explicate these appeals using a methodology derived from social-epistemic rhetoric, a rhetoric that examines sites of conflict and contradiction as the arbiters of culture. I explore the contradictions in what I call choicing, or the prediction and manipulation of consumer choice through the marketing, distribution, and use of mass-produced goods. These contradictions include several consumer tactics that confront choicing strategies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College