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Postmodern Consumption: Architecture, Art, and Consumer Behavior

W. Fred Van Raaij, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands ABSTRACT - We live in a period of transition from modernism to postmodernism. Postmodern elements can be traced in architecture, art, and consumer behavior. Postmodernism is a era without a dominant ideology but with a pluralism of styles. Social and technical changes create four dominant postmodern conditions related to fragmentation of markets and experiences, hyperreality of products and services, value realization later in the consumption cycle, and paradoxical juxtapositions of opposites.
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W. Fred Van Raaij (1993) ,"Postmodern Consumption: Architecture, Art, and Consumer Behavior", in E European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 550-558. European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1993 Pages 550-558

POSTMODERN CONSUMPTION: ARCHITECTURE, ART, AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR W. Fred Van Raaij, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands ABSTRACT We live in a period of transition from modernism to postmodernism. Postmodern elements can be traced in architecture, art, and consumer behavior. Postmodernism is a era without a dominant ideology but with a pluralism of styles. Social and technical changes create four dominant postmodern conditions related to fragmentation of markets and experiences, hyperreality of products and services, value realization later in the consumption cycle, and paradoxical juxtapositions of opposites. 1. INTRODUCTION 'It is the emptiness that fascinates me. People collect altars, statues, paintings, chairs, carpets, and books, and then comes a time of joyful relief and they throw it all out like so much refuse from yesterday's dinner table' Milan Kundera (1984) Western societies are in a process of 'modernization' or better 'postmodernization.' According to sociological theory, three independent trends can be observed: societal differentiation, secularization, and individualization (Naumann and Hufner, 1985). Taken to its extreme, these trends lead to societal fragmentation, loss of identities and social structures. These processes are not characteristic for the modern era, as some sociologists would argue, but for postmodernism. It is extremely difficult to observe trends and trend disruptures of the present period. It is much easier to overlook the past and to discern past trends and fashions. Nevertheless, many signs tell us that we pass from the modern into the postmodern era. The modern era was the period of industrialization, factory workers, ideology, nationalism, and mass culture. It brought us wars and material well-being, and sharp economic distinctions between classes and nations. The postmodern era is the period of information, office workers, differentiated structures, globalism, and fragmented culture. It is also the era of the 'lost fathers'; the end of dominant ideologies. It is a time of incessant choosing. No orthodoxy can be adopted without self-consciousness and irony. All traditions seem to have some validity. Pluralism is both a great problem and a great opportunity. Many persons in the West

Ihab Hassan (1980) became the self-proclaimed spokesman of postmodernism and he tied this label to the ideas of experimentation in the arts. nonconventional research approaches and alternative ways of knowing are labeled postmodern (Sherry. the advent of organised knowledge. and Christianity. The concept of postmodernism was first used by the Spanish author Federico de Onis in 1934 and then by Arnold Toynbee in his A Study of History. and the rise of power of non-western cultures. It is also a period of utopism and the 'grand ideologies. As a 'religious ideology' Christianity kept its important role in Western society. to choose among traditions. and informational revolution. 1984[1979]). such as D'66 in The Netherlands. warlords. For Hassan. the idea of the 'socialist man' and the collectivization of work. During the modern period (circa 1450-1960) industrial production developed. media. We are now on the edge of the third wave with its demassification or fragmentation of production. industrial.' as McLuhan (1964) used to call it. styles. indeterminancy. the ideology of progress and welfare through material goods and the nuclear family as the cornerstone of society is dominant. . the work became more and more concentrated in factories. the decline of individualism. Once a world communication system and forms of cybernetic production have been established. and opportunity to participate in cultural events. education. They criticised the lack of a new style and ideology. Ordinary people had no time. For many consumer researchers. and priests. Eclecticism and pragmatism are the keywords. ideologies. The challenge of the postmodern person and consumer is an 'embarras de richesses' and an 'embarras des choix'. and technology.became liberated from oppressing ideologies and became cosmopolites. Most people worked in agriculture. These distinctions created their political ideologies of liberalism and socialism. He and his contemporaries were negative about this development. Postmodernism encourages pluralism. The modern period is a period of mass production and consumption. products. and services from the past and the present. In the nineteenth century. and even societies. THREE WAVES Alvin Toffler (1980) was one of the first to popularise three waves or periods in the history of civilization: the agricultural.' For many philosophers. Communication networks create a 'global village. and the method became mass production under a strict division of work and a strict separation of the capitalist owners and the working class. written in 1938 and published after the war in 1947. postmodernism is 'discontinuity. actually separating the parents from their children by giving their education in the hands of specialists. they create their own necessities and they are irreversible. often not owning the land they work on. The information explosion. Pragmatic political parties with acceptable solutions to societal problems. and employing both parents in the development of the socialist society. Hunting tribes settled down and engaged in agriculture. In the Communist world. styles. architecture. sensitivity to differences and tolerance of the incommensurable (Lyotard. living and free time are promoted. 2. 1991). For Toynbee postmodernism was a new historical cycle with the end of western dominance. The culture was aristocratic. except for the church and local fairs (table 1). capitalism. gain voters' shares. a rejection of logical positivism makes one a postmodern thinker. whereas traditional ideology-based political parties tend to lose voters' interest. involves world communication. The pre-modern period is characterised by its local and agricultural orientation. The ruling class consisted of kings. immanence. and the return of former styles and traditions in an eclectic manner.' In the Western world.

such as in Paris in May 1968 and in other cities. equality. Whereas a modern. stockbrokers. authority. Liberalism is the ideology of the free citizens. These workers are working. the postmodern society. students. law and order. have largely become non-credible. 1987. secretaries. 1984). 1990). warlords. . In his 'Postmodern Condition' he states: 'The object of this study is the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies. priests. accountants. and the destiny of the west. the dominant ideologies of the modern era will be discussed with emphasis on their relevance to postmodernism. all handling information. 1989).. bureaucrats. Materialistic values of the older generation emphasize the possession of material goods.47) In the postmodern world. socialism. a strong defense. writers. industrialised society depends on the mass-production of objects in a factory. in particular the way knowledge is legitimized through the 'grand narratives. managers. The transition from modernism to postmodernism is a gradual one: For some persons and in some domain this shift is more prominent than for other segments and domains. depends on the segmented production of ideas and images in an office. some general characteristics of the postmodern era will be discussed especially in architecture and art. Liberalism is the ideology of the American revolution (1775). programmers. advertising people. IDEOLOGIES In the course of history. this natural rule became to be criticised by ideologies such as liberalism. Freedom. kings. Most workers (60 percent) are engaged in the 'manufacture' of information. technicians. These grand narratives. nation-state. and feminism. P. and the fight against criminality. such as religion. equality. Except for communism and fascism. to exaggerate the contrast. Then. and harmony. experiences.. these ideologies will be briefly discussed (Van Gennep. I have decided to use the word postmodern to describe that condition . Most of them are clerks.' such as liberation of humanity. 1977. fascism. TABLE 1 CHARACTERISITCS OF THE PREMODERN.In 1956 for the first time in the USA the number of white collar workers outnumbered blue collar workers. 3. and other authorities reigned over ordinary people. insurance people. and increased power. Our working hypothesis is that the status of knowledge is altered as societies enter what is known as the postindustrial age. Postmaterialistic values fit well into the postmodern world of pluralism and tolerance. tolerance. The transition from the modern to the postmodern period was and is not without turbulence. progress. and cultures enter what is known as the postmodern age' (Lyotard. The emancipation of the citizens started during the renaissance. bankers. and brotherhood is the credo of the French revolution (1789). the emancipation of the proletariat. I define postmodern as incredulity toward meta-narratives . researchers. This was accepted during the pre-modern and modern eras as a 'natural rule' in society. but rather para-class. Postmaterialistic values of the younger generation are related to freedom of speech. were a sign of a 'cultural shift' from materialistic to postmaterialistic values (Inglehart.. teachers. During the modern era. and by the late seventies America had made the shift to an information society with relatively few people (13 percent) involved in the manufacture of goods. MODERN AND POSTMODERN PERIODS (JENCKS.. communism. We will apply these characteristics to consumption in a later section of this paper. lower nor middle class. anarchism. First. there is a revolutionary growth of jobs to create. the bourgeoisie that gained power from the nobelty and the state. The year 1960 is thus only an indication of the time of this transition. self-expression. Jean-Frantois Lyotard (1984) is mostly concerned with knowledge in this scientific age. transform and disseminate information. During the second part of the sixties student revolts and protest. lawyers. The proletariat of factory workers is almost replaced by the cognitariat of office workers.

disabled. We cannot expect significant changes in the future. Some elements are kept. From Proudhon is the famous statement: 'Property is theft. 'Garden cities. a technical solution is given to social problems. are designed to separate pedestrians from car traffic. Anarchism originated during the French revolution. The laws of supply and demand will create the equilibrium of optimal benefits for both parties. On the contrary. The train does not continue any more. 'Les MisTrables' of Victor Hugo. the stable situation of the 'end of history' has been reached (Fukuyama. Similar developments in literature and music will not be discussed. and accuses the 'masculine' suppression of women and nature. They have a massage to the world. and 'Das Kapital' of Karl Marx described the conditions of the poor working class. anarchism did not materialise in actually functioning governments. and independence for both sexes. tolerance. To some extent. Often. freedom. against the oppression of the capitalists. If these liberal democracies guarantee human rights. constructivism. corruption. is comparable to a political ideology as it promotes equality of power of men and women. In the postmodern era. abolition of slavery. as relevant for marketing and consumer policy. The Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels (1848) gave a theoretical foundation to socialism and communism. designs strategies of liberation for women and others. in order not to make this paper too long. dignity. a satisfactory consumption level and avoid military wars (but allow economic wars). feminism had its second wave in the sixties. It is opposed to hierarchy and institutionalization. aestheticism. the ideological freedom creates a large variety of styles and genres. The realization of socialism and elimination of private property in Eastern Europe brought bureaucracy. Feminism is postmodern in the sense that it emphasises equality. tolerance and equality of men are kept in the postmodern period. a certain equality. stagnation. or even elitism or dogmatism. POSTMODERNISM IN ARCHITECTURE Modernist architectural styles are characterized by their ideology. 4. and an economic 'laissez faire' are the keywords. The liberal notions of freedom. such as the emphasis in the feministic and liberal ideologies on individual and non-sexist responsibilities.Rationalism. the Council Republic of Munich (1919). and to create a park environment around . Except for the Commune of Paris (1871).' Postmodernism inherited some anarchist ideas such as independence and an anti-authoritarian attitude. Let's enjoy civilization as it is. The dominant idea might be minimalism. 1992). Feminism had its roots in Enlightenment. The anarchists advocate 'workers' councils' and 'sovjets' as governing principles. and the Spartacus Revolt (1914-1919). Some authors claim the 'end of history' in postmodern times and state that a dominant liberal-democratic model has become the dominant model in Western societies. these ideologies seem to have become outdated. Most fascist and communist totalitarian states collapsed and a liberal form of capitalism survived. functionalism. during the second part of the nineteenth centery. ven for those who do not follow the socialist ideology. Socialism became the ideology of the working class. constitutional government. The economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo advocated the 'invisible hand' of competition. and retired workers. The end of ideology does not mean the end of styles. Proudhon and Bakoenin were the main anarchist philosophers. I will try to describe the postmodern impact on advertising and consumer behavior. socialism tend to elicit the guilt feeling and responsibility for the poor and the handicapped. First. In Western societies. It stated the necessity of the class struggle and revolution. just as the other ideologies. tolerance. The works of Charles Dickens. Although the abstract principles of liberalism were favorable for society. and an oppressive state power (Stalin).' such as the Bijlmer in South-East Amsterdam. The feminist movement benefitted from the trend to smaller households and individualization. liberalism degenerated into extreme capitalism with the negative consequences for the workers. In the Western democracies it created basic social security for the unemployed. postmodern developments in architecture and art will be discussed. Then.

Most postmodern architects have their education and roots in modernism. such as Le Corbusier. breakfast. are part of our daily consumption. Modernist style fits very well in the collectivization and urbanization approaches. No family life was planned.' straightforwardness. p. It has always been the task of architecture to fit new buildings into old structures and thus relating the present with the past. the Central Union of Consumer Cooperations at Moscow. the Nationale Nederlanden and Unilever headquarters close to the Rotterdam Central Railway Station. shower. or one ideology. irony. Impressive masonry hanged on a steel skeleton. Postmodernism is both the continuation and the transcendence of modernism. The Soviet architect Nikolaj Kuzmin.' 'logical consistency. But this is collaged to a traditional background. Stirling is saying through a hybrid language and uneasy confrontations that we live in a complex world where we cannot deny the past and conventional beauty.' Modernist steel canopies a la De Stijl tell the public where to walk in. such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and its follower the General Library at Rotterdam. built in 1936.' and 'simplicity. Modernist architects and designers. and men. The built environment facilitates or inhibits well-being and behavioral expressions. Charles Jencks (1987. Double coding means establishing links of the present with the past. and abstraction. industrial detailing. were popular in the communist countries and were imitated by Soviet architects. and hybrid language are the key words. parody. Le Corbusier's largest building is the Tsentrosojuz building.. windows. women and children should be housed separately. There is not the simple harmony of one style. reducing the differences between the city and the countryside. as if the buildings says 'Beautiful like the Acropolis or Pantheon. Kuzmin even planned how many minutes were needed for exercise. The International Style of concrete. such as De Stijl or Bauhaus. The communist paradise was obviously very similar to jail. Private rooms were not planned either. lost innocence. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown integrated Franklin's house at Philadelphia with other buildings and 'ghosted' this house in a stainless steel construction on Franklin Square. such as Le Corbusier. dictates their followers in their design and restricts their freedom of designs. At ten in the evening. usually other architects'. circulation. The apartment building of architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser in Vienna may be mentioned. A disadvantage of most modern architecture is that it does not communicate these values with its users and the public in general. Modernists and classicists would be surprised. holds the values of 'truth to materials. It is a very varied and complicated building with unexpected corners. A specific style. Double coding. We partly adapt our behavior to the built environment. An excellent example is James Stirling's addition to the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. They emphasize structure. for instance. Modernist architects. e. The architecture of buildings we live and work in. neither the present and current technological and social reality. glass and steel is the dominating style of the late modernism. six people of the same sex living in communities slept in sleeping rooms and met in recreation rooms. lights would be turned off and at six in the morning. until recently employed in Ceaucescu's Romania. Pure aestheticism is a 'l'art pour l'art' in architecture. . open space. and Mies van der Rohe. Raymond Loewy. There is no sudden disrupture. but based on concrete technology and deceit. 14) defines postmodernism as: 'Double coding: the combination of modern techniques with something else (usually traditional building) in order for architecture to communicate with the public and a concerned minority. people awake to have their communal breakfast and to go to their factory or office work. This is still a popular style.' Late modernist buildings. Modernist architects were the 'executives' of the socialist ideology. had explicit ideas about the 'new man. of new techniques with old patterns. if not offended. one language.g.immense apartment buildings. Stirling wants to communicate different values to different publics. It is a rather alienating for those who live and work in these buildings. and see-throughs. People who work there are enthousiastic. etc. communicate the ultimate functionalism of truth to materials and construction. Postmodernism started in architecture. of the elite with the popular. The head office of NMB bank in Amsterdam is a good example.' The population should be divided into age categories.

but a painted Campbell soup tin or Coca Cola bottles became works of art. A lamb. Postmodern art is characterized by its layers of meanings. The modern painter Pablo Picasso became history. especially of the pillars and chimneys. Sandro Chia. They live in the U. Transavantgardism. originating in Italy. The Italian postmodernist painters Carlo Maria Mariani. conservatism and progressiveness. photo realism. designers. Postmodern art shows an unrestrained use of colour. although there is a dominating classicism. a artistic supermarket. allegorical and political realism. avant-garde vs cheap rubbish' (Honnef. Attitudes range from irony to sarcasm. but history as well. postmodernists emphasize semantics. Postmodern artists are not only painters. Mythology. It is enigmatic and poses questions to the audience. palm tree and a Toscan landscape are reminiscant of a classical culture. Survivors of war crawl through the desert to an oasis. 'Lack of respect toward any convention' may be the best way of describing the attitude of transavantgarde artists. Avantgardism still maintained these values to some extent. architects. allegory. and sculptors. The international media and the art market exerted a pressure to produce new labels and schools. 'La Transavanguardia. and a carelessness towards orthodox artistic conformity. While late-modernists emphasized the aesthetic dimension. future vs past. hyperrealism. Since 1960. There is no single postmodern style in architecture. claimed that they were lending respectability to the images they borrowed from mass culture through an artistic revision (Honnef. Their 'Italianness' is between quotation marks. and from nature.. Elements of 'higher art' are freely intermingled with lesser forms of art. However. symbolism. . subject matter. Postmodernism started as a set of plural departures from modernism. transavantgardism or neo-expressionism. The windows have different sizes and do not show a regular pattern. The masonry varies showing different patterns. e. Playfulness exists with cynism.All appartments are different from the outside (and certainly from the inside too). Trees grow on the roofs. from religion. found elements of mass culture suitable means to express their emotions. 1988). and Mimmo Paladino are both Italian and international.S. Pop artists in the sixties. the latter is no longer given a privileged position over the former. rationalism vs the irrational. and narrative are characteristic of postmodern art. and neo-expressionism. inspiring admiration like Rembrandt but no opposition any more. new image painting. Ron Kitaj's 'If not. Ceramic tiles are used for decoration. survivors of civilization are engaged in quizzical acts. Jencks (1980) distinguishes six basic traditions in postmodern architecture. There is more concern for content. The consequences of broken promises and fragmented culture are the content of this gripping drama. The surface may be classicistic. photographers. The linear style of the painter Mondriaan is still admired. There remains a distinction between art and mass culture.g. modernism vs realism. a collage or pastiche. the ancient Greeks. 1964) and shows an ironic cosmopolitism. shapes and styles. But the Auschwitz Birkenau 'gate of death' can be seen in the upper-left corner.' 'die neue Wilde' (the New Savages). is influenced by the 'global village' (McLuhan. POSTMODERNISM IN ART Many of the points made for architecture. Transavantgarde art adds up to a multimedia-display. and the old dichotomies and categories no longer function in the same old reliable way. mass culture and serious culture. Postmodern art. It gives the impression of a stylistic hotchpotch. left vs right. not' is an example. 5. but painters and performers. According to Andreas Huyssen contemporary art is currently in the midst of a transition: 'Postmodern art of the eighties is marked by tension between tradition and innovation. such as Andy Warhol. progress vs reaction. 1988). It can be enjoyed by different publics for different reasons. and meaning. forms. a number of departures from modernism are named: pop art. Traditional art used images from the past. a wealth of imagination. and borrow freely from Mediterranean traditions to create secondary meanings. could be made for art as well. abstraction vs representation. Essential are the pluralism in philosophy and style and a dialectical or critical relation to pre-existing ideology.

Others may observe other trends or evaluate these trends differently. As social changes may be mentioned: individualization. Not until consumers use products they acquire the meanings and values of them. this is called the decentering of the subject. POSTMODERNISM IN CONSUMPTION Although architecture. In postmodern terms. art. decentering of the subject. and paradoxical juxtapositions. Firat (1992) discerns five categories of the postmodern condition: hyperreality. and value realization. Social change Individualization is a major trend. fragmentation. individualization. and music are 'consumed' by people. The 'postmodern household' has fewer members and the proportion of oneperson households is increasing. Fragmentation also refers to the disjointed experiences with each product. as dominant ideologies and value systems tend to disappear and are replaced by a plurality of values and norms. complexity. Some of Firat's categories will be followed but given a somewhat different meaning and some new categories will be added. simulation of reality on the computer and in the IMAX theater. Media provide us with phantasy.' In postmodern terms. the emphasis shifts from the technical production to the usage of goods. Products become more complex. market segmentation can no longer be based on lifestyles that are valid over a number product categories. without an integration at the individual level. First. fiction and non-fiction as entertainment and background. they often feel being the servants of their products by 'following the instructions. Finally. this leads to more acceptance of strange combinations. Advertising has to follow the changed role patterns of the working woman and the househusband. The hyperreality of the media and the simulations partly replace the 'actual reality' (whatever this may be). television program. performance and meeting. Although consumers have higher education levels than before. Personal computers and word processing programs require training courses to use them effectively. A postmodern attitude of pluralism and tolerance is really needed here. and are thus examples of consumer behavior. commercial. paradoxical juxtapositions of opposites. News and events from the other side of the world reaches us in almost real time. Video cassette recorders possess many functions. It is obvious that these characteristics of postmodernity are an attempt to chart the recent cultural developments. literature. and paradoxical juxtapositions of opposites. and an increasing speed of change. fragmentation. Cooking and heating food with the magnetron oven requires other skills. The main characteristics of the postmodern wave according to Toffler (1970) are: demassification. reversal of production and consumption. FIGURE 1 POSTMODERN CONDITIONS Technical change New developments in electronic information processing and satellite transmission create possibilities for longdistance news films. we will now turn to the consumption of other products and services in the marketplace. Many children possess their own hifi and television sets in their rooms. Two-car families are no exception any more. The major causes of postmodern change are social and technical. Radios have become a personal medium: the walkman and the car stereo as examples.6. Another social change is fragmentation with its many meanings. As technical changes will be discussed: hyperreality. Postmodernists call this the reversal of production . More consumers will decide for their own consumption and more products will be used individually. fragmentation.

Combinations and oppositions create new alternative genres. disenchantment (as Max Weber called this) and a plurality of beliefs. The grand religious and political values and narratives lost their credibility. The Balinese culture became disconnected from its Hindu religious . MTV's program 'Postmodern' is a case in point. services and brands represent disconnected experiences. not be temporary but is a permanenet characteristic of postmodernism. Sometimes this is explained as a 'fin de siFcle' phenomenon. Consumers adopt a certain lifestyle depending on the product domain (Van Raaij and Verhallen. The velocity of change is now much faster. Authorities connected to these narratives lost their authority as well. but a variety of designers in London.and consumption (Firat. No central meaning. The 'real self' is hidden behind many situational. Especially subcultures have an important impact on new and old trends. Eclecticism is the buzzword. the efficient manager. The hyperrealistic collage leads to disjointed experiences and moments of excitement. Disjointed experiences The fragmentation of the information supply is mirrored in the fragmentation of experiences. scepticism and irony. Scepticism replaced dogmatism. Some companies offer a variety of types and 'personalised versions' of their products and services as well. Some authors even go further and state that consumers live by the moment. role-played selves. Not long ago.' Some media seem to have adapted to this pluralism by offering fragmented experiences and brief flashes of music. and should be segmented according to their momentary state ('market sentimentation'). by their state-of-mind and mood. Value is produced only when consumers add effort to the products they bought. Postmodern consumers do not possess one self-image but have many self-images adapted to the requirements of the situation. No central authority dictates the style for the next season. FRAGMENTATION Whereas in modern times centralised authority is common. Fashions. 1987). 1992). The postmodern era is the time of secularization. New York. 1984). Paris and Tokyo propose their designs. Milan. the loving partner. Almost any style can be revived. 1992). But these experiences are basically 'light and empty' (Kundera. postmodernism allows almost all styles. No Parisian haute couture. The lack of a central ideology or a small set of ideologies leads to a variety of norms. Superabundant choice and widespread pluralism force us to reassert a freedom of choice and comparative judgment. The impressive or expressive values are not produced with the purchase but with the consumption of the product. Products. 7. Postmodern consumers are encouraged by marketing messages and images to play a game of image-switching. with the expectation that a new dominant style will develop during the next century. so did the single lifestyle. The play the roles of the caring mother. information and entertainment. The fragmentation is thus not only on the demand but also on the supply side. Either you were for Gothic revival or a hopeless pagan. moral arguments. Pluralism will. and the gourmet cook. and conventions forced you in one camp or another. As the single ideology lost its dominance. historical or contextual connection provides integration and background. values and lifestyles adhered by more and more 'individualistic individuals. effort and skills of the consumer. without linkages. only one or two styles were dominant at a time. however. the postmodern era is the time of a decentralised pluralism and fragmentation. In fact. just as a dinner at home is only produced with the purchased ingredients and the time. Self-monitoring is on the increase (Snyder. contexts and historical roots (decontextualization). Toffler (1970) states that production and consumption coincide: prosumption. Fashion specialists have a hard time explaining which is the dominant style and which will be the dominant styles for the next season. if there still exists a real self at all. The transition is from few styles to many genres.

context. The new values seem to be: irreverence. Many tourists. 1991). Consumers. visit churches as tourist attractions without understanding the meaning of the paintings and symbols. As a consequence. Since then. advertorials and infomercials. 1985). customers may compose their own car (with engine types. A Ford Sierra has now so many varieties in colors. numerous brands in the supermarket and department store. and television channels are losing their large audiences. The father figure as the representative of social roles and conventions is lost. Segmented media Mass media are products of the modern era. 1989). The 'Just do it!' ad for Nike shoes promotes liberation from traditional patterns. a variety of print media. Segmented production In the modern era. Similarly. radio and television stations cater to the different 'taste cultures' (a term coined by the sociologist Herbert Gans). accessories. In the postmodern era. Wallendorf. It will then be massproduced upon customer's specification. however. and to represent them as independent representations of images. In 1973 U. detachment. One wonders how consumers process these flashes. and trade union. to take children or not. Consumers watch short commercials. not only to television. This may may go as far as 'sacralization' of products. Benetton advertising became more and more detached from its clothing products. but also to local and specialised dailies and weeklies. and tolerance. Traditional values and norms are based on principles about society and men's relation to God. to marry or to stay single. Postmodernism means a freedom from constraints and conventions. alienated from their religious background. but more of different varieties and 'personalized versions' of a product. In the world of pastiche and collage. may finally vanish. Economies of scale are reached by producing more of the same. mass production meant an endless repetition of the same products. Marketing practice is to glorify products and brands. such as the family. and Sherry. immediate sensory gratification is greatly enjoyed. pragmatism. Benetton became famous. for its anti-traditional and anti-racist advertising. and interiors) on a computer screen. and 'cult items' (Belk. difference. newspapers reached their peak with a circulation of 63 million copies daily. must be exciting to the senses to be effective. linkages. and then order it as they like it. attention and retention cannot be expected on the basis of relevance. let alone integrate these. the newspapers are gradually losing their readership. Beauty is a world betrayed. engine types that one will seldom see two identical cars. antiques.background and became a marketable commodity and a tourist spectacle. social class. eclecticism. Attention to stimuli is not warranted. Korthals. nonconformity. colours. mass-production is not necessarily producing more of the same. 1990. there is a continuous search for styles and genres. Products become isolated from their contexts and even from their original functions. noncommitment. Traditional social organizations of inequality. Brand loyalty may decrease. magazines. The postmodern era is characterised by individualization.S. to adopt one or another lifestyle. Each communication must attract attention for its own sake. Newspapers with a political ideology are most severely hit. The brand is the image and the product user is the hero. such as collectors' items. may attribute values and meanings to them independently of their original functions. automobiles. Major general . for personal and collective identities (Harvey. Newspapers. Interest. Rather than producing and stocking a large variety of automobiles. accessories. or connected representations. Postmodern values are less or non-principled. Individuals become their own 'identity managers' in the decisions to work or to study. The system can even be reversed: the buying decision comes before the production. dolls. promoting world harmony and tolerance. see flashes of billboards. first of all individualization of inequality (Naumann and Hufner. and for some others notorious.

People may even judge the quality of After Eight higher than other mint chocolates. HYPERREALITY Simulations of the reality or hypes may become 'hyperreality. 1986). For target groups as diverse as teenagers. These new meanings (images) signify a new reality. hunters. A documentary movie is a hyperreality. and Saturday Evening Post.' 8. part of a song (Toffler. doubled. we witness a growth of special interest magazines. secure and happy. . The 'augmented product' cannot exist without the hyperreality created and reinforced by advertising. 1980). These values may be added to the brand over time through advertising. Advertising may be even influence the experience of brand usage. The benefits of the product are not only physical/functional but psychosocial as well. theories. The number of radio and television channels is increasing as well. Advertising is a powerful tool to add hyperreality to mundane products and brands. for local communities and for specific segments in society. related to sports. The segments in spciety receive different information from their own media. geography. She provokes. and are judged by others in terms of this reality. If the consumer believes the hyperreality of the advertising. Instead of one station for each 65. Fiction may be called hyperreality. simulations are signifiers referring to a signified reality (Eco.' because it is beyond what is the utilitarian and economic reality in modern times. Madonna is a good example. to connect and to categorise this overload of fragmented information. The postmodern man digests a 90-second news clip with a 30-second commercial. a cartoon. becomes a hyperreality for them. health and fitness. Life. whereas the population increased by 35 percent. elicits protests.000. and it is up to the receiver to make sense out of this. Advertising is not only information about the product. The truthfulness of advertising can only be assessed after the experience of the product. This reality.000 American.' Meaning structure analysis may explain the same phenomenon. as it is referring to the 'objective' reality. there is now a station for each 38. gets admiration. and minorities. The reality thus created is 'hyper. the suggested reality may become self-fulfilling and thus 'true' (Postman. fresh breath. although there may be no objective product differences. we receive short. each went to its grave. when believed by the users of the brand feeling more sexy. Signifiers may become detached from their signified reality and may become 'free floating. scuba divers. and returned later in a more segmented version (Toffler. Toothpaste is originally connected with the mundane reality of brushing your teeth. I only describe one. In postmodern terms.' According to semiotic analysis. In her film 'Truth or Dare' she says: 'I do not endorse any lifestyle. news flashes. A diversity of media means a diversity of opinions and probably less consensus. communicate it to others through their usage behavior. But the media are not perfectly segmented. An exhaustive synthesis seems to be untenable. modular 'blips': ads. in which the consumer is an important part of the experience. p. At best we receive 'video clips' of shattered information. a headline. Rather than receiving organised strings of information. retired people. and finally to values such as attractiveness. 166). Advertising becomes part of the hyperreality. but the product represents the image.S. Through advertising After Eight acquired the hyperreality of a 'upper-class' mint chocolate. it is difficult to define the concept of misleading advertising any more. opinions. gossip. Look. It is a psychological and social reality for the brand users who feel this reality. that not easily fall in pre-set categories and schemas. We receive a diversity of often contradictory information. At the same time. Between 1950 and 1970 the number of radio stations in the U. sexiness. because there exists no corresponding reality. security and happiness. 1985). the image does not only represent the product. commands.interest magazines. hobbies. Transformational advertising is 'potential experience' as part of the product. Broadcasting becomes narrowcasting. Journalists and advertisers alike have to attract the attention of consumers by providing 'exciting' and 'senzational' stimulation in a clutter of others with similar stimulation. self-esteem. 1980. Brushing with a certain brand of toothpaste leads to the consequence of having white teeth. As advertising adds hyperreality to products and services. but remains a postmodern goddess with a detached attitude.

' Cities renovate the wharf and city center as images of the past. Examples are seen on television: news flashes. The duality of the appearance (surface) and the essence (substance) is largely dead in postmodernity. Younger generations are more accustomed to television and movies than to print media. But marketing is often focussed on the act of purchase rather than usage. it may be expected that 'virtual reality' will become a new and exciting product/service. The surface is the essence and the medium is the massage (McLuhan. The print media have become more pictorial and thus visual. Flight simulators are just a first step into cyberspace. Confusion of subject and object . 9.g. such as James Bond. videoclips. Computer simulation such as Cyberspace creates a virtual reality of buildings and scenery that may be used by architects and town planners to 'walk' through a not yet created built environment. the image represents the product. Las Vegas. Jean Baudrillard (1975.' Although hyperreality may have started as a 'rich and thick' meaning structure. hobbies or music preferences rather than their jobs. The spectacle and the spectacular often are hyperreal. realized in cyberspace without transporting the tourist over long distances. emphasizing the satisfaction of needs. Disneyland or EuroDisney and other phantasy and magic worlds as examples of hyperreality.' Implications of hyperreality are thus: lack of context and loss of history. in order to provide the desired experiences to the audience. Marketing.. superimposed images. In modern times. VALUE REALIZATION It is traditional rhetoric that value is created in the production of goods and destroyed in consumption. virtual realities may be created for the visual. Hyperreality may thus become a set of disjointed experiences. Media experiences compete with real experiences. In these examples a 'virtual reality' is created or enhanced with help of media and theater. both in the sense of the goal and the final state. Later economists stated that value is created in the exchange of goods. their sports. The product represents the image and the image is the reason of the consumer to buy and to use the product. The 'Boston tea party' is almost daily simulated for tourists. the 'tropical swimming park' with palm trees while it is freezing outside. 1964). auditory and even kinesthetic senses. e. Voyeuristic exposure to the spectacle seems to have become the cultural passtime. Through computer simulation. has always been postmodern in defending that consumption is the end of production. but a property of the image. the IMAX theater. Through media sponsorship and the merging of the editorial and advertising content of media brand names become an important part of this collage. Many people identify themselves by their consumptive activities. But value is no longer a property of the product. Personal identity is created and recreated on the basis of usage rather than on the basis of production or purchase. pastiche and collage. In the near future. How does it feel to fly at sound speed or to raft on a wild river? People no longer have to travel to distant sightseeing objects. actually being at their local 'Omniversum. animations. 1981) argues that value is sign-value. Numbers of tourists visit the IMAX theater as they visit the Grand Canyon to 'really experience the Canyon. and 10-seconds commercials create a visual image. A travel agency delivers a dream tour. Consumption becomes more important. 'Escape' magazines. and thus more to visual rather than to textual information processing. produce a hyperreality for their watchers and readers. The futuristic idea in the movie 'Total Recall' may become true. such as Playboy. During consumption the image belonging to the product or brand is recreated as a benefit for the consumer. Many vacation and recreation parks possess hyperrealistic elements and non-authentic attractions. Sound and light shows conjure up the past and create a hyperreality. but may experience being at the Chinese wall or Amazone river. the meaning may have become detached from the object ('free floating' as semioticians would say) and become only 'surface without substance. and movies.Postmodernists often mention show business. created during consumption.

the subject is the agent that acts through objects and situations to produce certain benefits and value realizations. in the extreme case. Traditionally. Fashion becomes the metaphor for culture.. feel uneasy about the latent options and happy with at least the functions they actively master. architecture. All warnings are clearly printed on the package including the message: '10% Percent of profits donated to Cancer Research. Consumers may perceive themselves as marketable items and manage their images as perceived by others. 1987). Consumers often only use a limited set of the possible product functions. and personal computers. Production and consumption are parts of the same cycle. A dinner at home requires ingredients from the marketplace and a lot of household production of preparing and cooking to obtain the pleasure of the meal. The objects seem to determine the conditions and procedures of consumption. Consumption choices and experiences tend to determine one's taste. are often too complex to be mastered completely. a combination of producer and consumer. Irony and double meaning can be observed in art. Creativity defined as the original combination of elements is very postmodern. commodities seem to become the producers of benefits for individuals who follow the instructions correctly. just like a product fulfilling a function in the marketplace. In traditional rhetoric. Persons are able to distance themselves from the experience of 'being' (the state most animals are in) to observe themselves and to develop a state of 'knowing. because almost all services and products require an active input and participation of the consumer to enjoy the benefits.' The products of modernity are thus under the control and in the service of consumers in order to create benefits for themselves. both in the job and in the social environment. Many ads show no product at all but attract attention with a . Do-it-yourself home maintenance. receptionists and television presenters become objects in expositions. In postmodern terms. VCRs. This commodification of selves leads to beauty contests and. one could state that consumers are there to allow products to achieve their functions.' Postmodern advertising is shocking for some and liberating for others. Products are there to allow the achievement of human goals. a brand of cigarettes became popular in a black package with a skull and the brand name Death. Individuals such as hostesses. Even oppositional and contradictory emotions (love with hate) and cognitions (reverence with ridicule) can be expected. medical self-care. Imagine the joy of the 'possessor' of a new telefax machine or personal computer after a troublesome series of trials and tribulations: 'It works!' Mastering of some products is only realised after a trial and training period. There is a confusion of the subject and the object who is in control (Hassan. This is not a new phenomenon. Knowledge and independent behavior is possible through the Cartesian idea of the separation of mind and body. individuals are the producers of benefits with help of products as commodities. Anything may be combined with and juxtaposed to anything else. The confusion of subject and object is also present in the 'self-marketing' of individuals.K. 10. values. and advertising. What is a restaurant dinner without the good humour and positive participation of the customers? The benefits of a novel are only enjoyed by reading it. music. 1987). to prostitution. In the U. lifestyle. a decentering of the subject may be observed. and 'distance education' are prosumptive activities on the increase. and shows. Consumers have to follow instructions in order to obtain the benefits and to avoid problems. products. PARADOXICAL JUXTAPOSITIONS The major characteristic of postmodern culture is its paradoxical nature. skills and ability for future behavior. their fax and washing machines. Objectification and commodification of one's own body and self allows one 'to be consumed' by others. Ads show a newborn baby or a dying Aids patient with the United Colors of Benetton. In an ironic way. 'Being in control' is a major goal of postmodern consumers realising that their hifi equipment. This is described by the concept of self-monitoring (Snyder. In postmodernism. offices.Toffler (1980) predicts the rise of the prosumer.

In this paper. Poll taking and market research have very similar functions. Punk protest becomes emptied and commodified as a fashion. and the 'right' issues at the 'right' time. News programs on commercial television. there remains a residual taste for pluralism. postmodern condition. The modern era was a time of consistency. television programs. art. Behavior and language of actors and pop singers can easily be imitated. often commercial. the postmodern era requires a kaleidoscopic sensibility and tolerance. advertising. The newsworthiness of events is determined by the market. organized action for political and social change is almost impossible. hyperreality. The market becomes the great assimilator (Firat.' Newsstands are overloaded with special interest magazines. viewpoints. The media become dominated by the 'market. how to talk. Previous conditions are included in the present. Anything can be tried and dropped.' if we want or if we need.' Television is very appropriate for communication on lifestyle.bizarre combination of visuals and impressions. popular magazines. This pluralism is reflected in architecture. and opinions from all over the world. dominating western culture and society at the 'end of history' (Fukuyama. 11. In a fragmented culture. People and media provide information and demonstrations how to behave. Voters become buyers of carefully 'designed' political candidates rather than political programs. a mad competition of opposite tastes create hilarious misunderstandings and sadness. CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION Postmodernism is not a single cultural style but an increasing pluralism of styles and genres. 1992). But even if everybody is limited to a few minority taste cultures. on the other hand it is frustrating for persons seeking radical transformation of society. The American presidential elections are built on. . since nothing is sufficiently credible to merit commitment. Anything is at once acceptable and suspect.' Editors agree that their articles are sponsored by advertisers. although the ads may elicit positive senzations and emotions without an deep meaning. Emancipation of women and homosexuals created a pluralism accepted by many. It tells intimate stories how people give sense to their lives and solve life problems. Marketing becomes an imperialistic art and science. advertising. A cosmopolitan attitude leads to more acceptance of differences. styles. Most people make their choice and restrict themselves to one or two genres. the covers and articles of magazines are designed to attract audiences and buyers. No emotional or cognitive commitment beyond a single purchase or trial is needed. This renders the market to be the dominant domain of legitimation. and advertising tell us what is 'in' and what is 'absolutely impossible. As a dominant ideology or style is absent. there is a sensibility in the public sphere for lifestyle and identity information. In the films of Federico Fellini. This loyalism makes the plurality work coherently. The roles of citizen and consumer become similar and seem to merge. The absence of a dominant ideology is liberating on the one side but creates insecurity and an 'embarras des choix' on the other side. On the one hand postmodernism is liberating. and paradoxical juxtapositions of opposites. value realization later in the consumption cycle. heterogeneity. Consumers are immersed in a sea of impressions and experiences but are not taken seriously if they oppose this immersion. double meaning. and what should be done and avoided. and consumption. and paradox. People. From exclusion to inclusion. irony. campaign funds. literature. Benetton and Coca Cola advertisements show a multi-colored world and acceptance of other races and cultures. The market absorbs all kinds of protest and rebellion. Daily newspapers bring us a strange variety of 'news. music. We are informed about conflicts. 1992). We may return to 'modern times. The postmodern era brings a taste for variety. The pastiche of flashes seems to be basically unrelated to the product or the brand. Not everyone likes this kaleidoscope of pluralism. In the postmodern era we look to the past and to other cultures with irony and displacement. incongruity. Most characteristic of the postmodern era is the openness. the major postmodern conditions in consumption are: fragmentation.

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