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Advertising on television : a comparative sociosemiological analysis

Giaccardi, Chiara (1991) Advertising on television : a comparative sociosemiological analysis. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86113) (KAR id:86113)


The aim of this thesis is to provide an analysis of advertising on television based on a comparative approach to textual contents and structures which attempts to identify some of the ways in which semantic, pragmatic and textual elements interact and exert mutual influence. The main focus is on the way in which

advertisements activate specific fields of discourse (the semantic aspect) by engaging the viewer in an interpretive activity (the pragmatic aspect) through specific visual and aural elements (the textual aspect). Preliminary to the analysis is a brief review of some of the philosophical and socio linguistic positions on textual meaning (Part 1). Particular attention is paid to the main contributions to a pragmatically oriented textual analysis, including

Halliday's concept of social semiotics, which has been especially useful for the definition of the theoretical framework for the analysis.

In Part 2 the issue of the specificity of audio-visual language, as a language that combines different signifying systems (sounds, words, images, and music) is explicitly addressed: one of the aims of the research is indeed to avoid the transference of models of analysis from written or verbal to audiovisual texts, and to devise a method of analysis consistent with the specific character of the object of inquiry. Two main imperative have guided the analysis (Part 3): the need to escape both textual and social determinism, while taking into account the way in which textual elements represent and address specific social situations; and the need to consider the context of advertising discourse, in order to avoid a text-bound approach. For this reason advertisements have been approached within a comparative framework. The main characters of the two broadcasting systems have been also considered (Appendix). The data for the analysis consist of British and Italian advertisements video recorded in peak time from October 1988 to March 1989; the main focus being on car advertisements and on

transnational campaigns. The other referential value of advertisements has been emphasized, with p articular regard to the repertoire of social commonplaces (or "topoi") that bear upon textual production and interpretation. The comparative framework is crucial for differentiating social conventions from what in a

mere textual perspective may appear as neutral representations. The aim of this thesis is not to exhaust the argument but to develop an original a pp roach to televisual texts which is intended to complement rather than exclude other approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86113
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Literature
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:29 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 12:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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