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Media Theory Revision Guide

All A level theorists covered alongside revision summaries and exam practise exercises.




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Middle class America


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The 1950's Tide advert reflects the growing economic optimism of America during the post war period. US manufacturing emerged unscathed from the European bombing campaigns of the Second World War, while the American economy benefited from the economic uplift that Allied arms sales brought. 

The affluence of America and the widespread availability of luxury goods resulted in a wide-scale embourgeoisement of American society and the realisation that a middle-class lifestyle could be attained by a wide cross-section of society. 

The washing machine illustration in the Tide advert clearly signifies the growing availability of luxury white goods in the US. The central model’s cheerful consumer-driven happiness and her flawless filmstar embrace of Tide further outlines the middle class ideals that could be attained through purchase of an everyday product.

The advert, in this sense, uses symbolic positioning to construct an aspirational window-to-the-future self for the reader - a portrayal of middle class ideals that the reader could easily attain through consumer driven consumption.


A sociological term that describes the growth of the middle class in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Media terminology used

Windows to the future self

An ideal that audiences can achieve if they follow the advice of a media product. Magazine front covers, for example, often invite audiences to pursue career, fashion or health-based ideals.

Symbolic positioning

An advertising narrative that foregrounds the status benefits that a product can produce. Adverts, for example, that suggest a new car might lead others to be envious use symbolic positioning.

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