Consuming Ideology: Advertising, Algorithms, and Individuation

Type of Work


Publication Date

Winter 1-19-2021

Streaming Media

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It is difficult, if not impossible, to navigate the internet nowadays without encountering a single advertisement. Multinational corporations have co-opted the popularization of images to forward marketing tactics and increase profits by inundating consumers with advertisements with every click and scroll. The internet—and its escalating circulation of images—once functioned as an arena for a developing mass culture through its potential for images to reach further and wider to bring people together. The recent mechanisms by which companies target consumers with ads, though, have shaped the internet into an increasingly more divisive space. Through data accumulation and algorithmic selection, corporations carefully construct and display images with which to target individual consumers, veiling the process along the way. Advertisements reflect particular political and cultural ideologies—social justice initiatives, for example— with which consumers are meant to identify, as they receive advertisements that align with views they exhibit in prior internet activity; this identification, then, motivates purchases. The ads we view, the products we buy, and the ideologies they reflect, therefore, reify the division of our current political moment. I am interested in examining how advertisements achieve this goal in two ways: first, their use of visual signs to reflect certain political/ cultural ideologies, and second, the processes/ technologies by which these images are shown to consumers.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Cinema and Media Studies

Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Winter Research Fellowship

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Jay Bloom