277.3 Marketing and advertisement evaluation practices: The making of the Chilean middle class consumer

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:21 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Dr Tomas ARIZTIA , Sociology, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile
This paper presents the firsts of findings of a two year funded research project on marketing and advertisement knowledges and practices in contemporary Chile. Concretely it explores how marketing and advertisement enact lower middle class consumers in contemporary Chile. It is argued that marketing practices, knowledge’s and devices not only contribute to describe and characterize different “targets” but also play a central role in assembling a particular version of middle class consumers.  In doing so, the papers attempt to deploy a sociology of market professionals and devices as cultural producers. The paper relies on three different theoretical approaches to analyze how these market experts enact middle class consumers. a) Lamont´s works on the production of symbolic boundaries (Lamont and Molnar 2001); b) the literature on social categorization and classification as spaces in which social groups are produced (Boltansky 1982) and, c) a cultural economy approach that understands markets relying on process of qualification (Callon, Méadel et al. 2002).

Against this theoretical backdrop, the paper discuss some of the first empirical outcomes after carried out more than 40 interviews with advertisement and marketing experts and spent several weeks doing ethnographic fieldwork in advertisement agencies. Based on this material, it describes marketing and advertisement expert’s process of evaluation and qualification of middle class clients. In doing so, it analyses how different arrangements of devices, professional practices and knowledge’s helps experts to define a final middle class consumer.