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The Formation of Professional Identity in the British Advertising Industry, 1920-1954

HAUGHTON, PHILIPPA,LUCY (2015) The Formation of Professional Identity in the British Advertising Industry, 1920-1954. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 09 July 2020.

Abstract

From 1920 to 1954 British advertising practitioners spoke readily about achieving professional status. Studies have examined sociological processes of professionalization within the advertising industry. This thesis instead addresses the question of what professionalism meant in the context of advertising, a modern occupation whose practitioners claimed expertise in persuasion itself. The meaning of professionalism in advertising matters because the formation of professional identity was fundamental to the way that advertising agents understood, marketed, and sought to develop their practice in the years following the First World War. This is important because their practice – the creation of marketing campaigns based on advertisements – was significant in shaping and supporting the economic growth of twentieth-century consumer culture in Britain.

The thesis has three main dimensions. First, it examines the advertising industry’s changing professional narrative by considering how practitioners described their occupation, and the ways in which professionalism was experienced and enacted on an everyday basis in the advertising agency. Second, taking the development of advertising institutions and education programmes, it explores the means by which young people and women presented themselves as practitioners. Third it demonstrates the effect of connections with the global advertising industry and imperial markets on the formation of a professional identity in British advertising from 1920 to 1954.

Understanding the formation of professional identity of advertising practitioners in particular offers insight into the nature of professional identity in an emerging creative occupation. Moreover, it forms an important part in explaining how advertising practitioners helped advertising not only to be tolerated, but to grow in to be a central and ‘normal’ feature of British consumer society.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Advertising"; "professionalism"; "professional identity"; "business history"; "everyday life"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Jul 2015 08:46

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