ELE 3757 Consumer Sociology and Cultural Analysis

Norwegian version

ELE 3757 Consumer Sociology and Cultural Analysis

Responsible for the course
Morten William Knudsen, Knut Kolnar

Department of Marketing

According to study plan

ECTS Credits

Language of instruction

The aim of the course is to give the students an understanding of consumer sociology, advertising and the rhetoric of advertising. This partly means an understanding of different sociological models for explaining consumption, and partly an understanding of the wider cultural context. Consumption and advertising deal with certain aspects of communication; the consumer wants to communicate his identity, and advertising communicates the consumer’s assumed values about himself. The course will also discuss political rhetoric in relation to advertising. The question of what we define as advertising or not is important to get a deeper understanding of the concept of advertising as such, especially related to political rhetoric.

The course will also address the issue of how different cultures create specific challenges for the rhetoric of advertising with regard to appeal to potential consumers in different countries with different cultural backgrounds. The course will have a global perspective as well as a national/western perspective where comparative analysis of different rhetorical strategies of advertising will be included. Since male and female consumers have slightly different patterns of consumption, the course will also discuss gender.

All in all, this course will enable the students, through analytical tools, to understand the context of communication, especially with regard to consumer behaviour.

Please note
This course overlaps with the course MRK 3566 Consumer sociology and cultural analyses (7,5 credits). Consequently a combination of these two courses in a bachelor's degree will not be allowed.

Learning outcome
Acquired knowledge
On completion of the course students shall have:

  • Acquired knowledge about the different models within consumer sociology to explain behaviour, its history of ideas, a general sociological way of thinking and different perspectives of consumer behaviour, especially power, gender, identity and ethics.
  • Acquired knowledge of different tools for analyzing culture – especially rhetoric. The knowledge of rhetoric as persuasion, the history of rhetoric, its theoretical basis and application are central in this course.
  • Acquired knowledge of the basics of semiotics (signs), narrative theory and the theory of discourse (the study of language and systems of language)

Acquired skills
On completion of the course students shall be able to:
  • Use the theory of consumer sociology in order to understand, explain and predict consumer behaviour and to decide advertising and communication aimed at specific target groups with specific emphasis on tools for segmentation.
  • Use comparative cultural analysis and tools for understanding culture to analyze advertising and communication within a given cultural context and between different cultural contexts. The student`s ability to use the theory of rhetoric in order to communicate in a better way will be stressed.
  • Use the theory of rhetoric in order to communicate in a better way

The student should be able to reflect upon the ethical challenges of communication and reflect critically upon the culture of consumption at the present time.

Basic course in Marketing Management or Marketing.

Compulsory reading
Kjeldsen, Jens. 2006. Retorikk i vår tid : en innføring i moderne retorisk teori. 2. utg. Spartacus. 396 sider
Schjelderup, Gerhard Emil og Morten W. Knudsen, red. 2007. Forbrukersosiologi : makt, tegn og mening i forbrukersamfunnet. Cappelen akademisk forlag

Recommended reading

Course outline
  • Introduction to consumer sociology – the history of ideas of consumption, the development of consumption as such and an introduction to the theory of sociology
  • Different perspectives of consumption including power, identity, gender and ethics
  • Rhetoric as an apt form of communication with emphasis on persuasion and good ethics
  • Argumentation, genre, style and rhetorical criticism
  • The history of rhetoric and different practical aspects such as oral presentation, body language and written text.
  • Additional perspectives such as semiotics, hermeneutics and narrative theory

Computer-based tools
None required for this course.

Learning process and workload
The course will consist of 40 hours that will combine lectures, group discussions and feedback on material handed in for the course. The group discussions will consist of problem-solving and discussions based upon the central elements of the curriculum. The group discussions will be conducted in class and between classes and will be managed by the lecturer responsible for the course. It is expected that the students participate in an active manner in class and between classes.

During the term the students shall work on two small assignments. The assignments are compulsory and should be handed in according to schedule. There will be class feedback related to the assignments. The assignments must be approved in order for the student to take the examination in the course. The assignments could be solved individually or in groups up to 3 students

Suggested use of hours:

Use of hours
Class participation and group discussions
Preparation for class

    Coursework requirements

    A course paper of one week's duration, solved either individually or in groups of two students.
    Examination code(s)
    ELE 37571 course paper, accounts for 100 % of the grade in the course ELE 3757 Consumer Sociology and Cultural Analysis, 7.5 ECTS credits

    Examination support materials
    Course paper: All support materials are allowed

    Re-sit examination
    A re-sit examination is offered in connection with the next scheduled course.

    Additional information