The author examines the relationships between the social problems of the mass age, developments in late 20th century capitalism, the growth of a mass media advertising system, and the operation and assumptions of liberal democracy. The changing structure of capitalism, where production so easily outstrips consumption, demands that an increasing share of resources be absorbed, not in the creation of new wealth, but in supporting the marketing process. Advertising must sell, not only goods and services, but also definitions of life and of status, images, hopes and feelings. In turn, the very universality of advertising, and its acceptance as a mode of communication, have forced the political system into the same mould. The consequences, examined here, have on the whole been unfortunate, although not actually fatal. The institutional arrangements of modern liberal democracy and the selling of images demean democracy and obstruct the realizations of its own ideals.
Preface - The Birth of the Mass Age - The Changing Face of Capitalism - The Consumer Society - The Social Role of Advertising - The Advertisers' Perspective - The Liberal Deocratic Ideal - Democracy and the Market - Conclusions - Notes and References - Bibliography - Index