Communication Research Specialist

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My role in the Rutgers transportation project was to be the communication Research specialist. The way I was able to contributed to the project was by finding out information through communication, either by talking to people directly as face-to-face interviews on personal opinion, word of mouth or researching my way to be able to get input on the opinion of people who I couldn’t physically get to in order to get input on this issue.

I was able to gain very valuable information provided by my many of my subjects, but the information was also very limiting in the way in which I decided to approach it. A way in which I could have further on received more explanatory and organized information, was to create a way in which I would of been able to manage the answers provided by my subjects. For example creating a survey would have been a a great way in which I could of approach and replaced the face-to-face interviews. Replacing it would have narrowed down my personal time restriction and would of allowed me to have more subjects, and be able to gain more opinions in a short amount of time. By making that chance in my approach my subjects would  of still been able to maintain themselves as anonymous but also increase the diversity and variety of the subject themselves.

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Being able to get Bus drivers and or any Rutgers employee to contribute to the research. I was lucky enough to be able to get one bus driver from the A bus to speak on behalf of his personal scheduled times in which he believed there was a need for more buses. A way in which I could of changed my approach was to further push the idea of surveys, both online and printed on paper and so those who’s opinion is indeed highly valuable to the research would feel more comfortable stating their opinion freely with me knowing who state what opinion about Rutgers Transportation Services. The survey would include specific question relating to their experience, either direct or indirectly but also include age, race to still gain the information but still maintaining their identity anonymous.

Unfortunately whenever bus drivers do things that does not have to do with their jobs, they are in danger of getting fired. There was a case of a bus driver names Stan McNeil, who did loose his job for being accused of implying his religion on students who rode the bus. Bus drivers can easily get accused of saying or doing things that they are not suppose to by students or their own bosses and so it becomes difficult for them to contribute to any research.

The main bus driver that was able to provide me with some information on the issue but did not provide his name. He provided me with the times in which he believed students tend to go out but it was not fully reliable since there is no evidence. A way in which I could have improved the evidence is to maybe also interview bar employees, and food/ restaurant employees on Rutgers students and the ways in which they have more business. Also providing online surveys on websites like Facebook or twitter directed to Rutgers students on the days in which they go out and what buses they then to take along with the scheduled times. This would provide me with more of a round idea of the times once matched up, with the buses taken, days in which the students use the buses the most and idea of the times.

I feel as though I was able to fulfill my part in the Rutgers Transportation project to the best of my abilities but also believe that I could of further dug deeper into the information. Overall if I would of been able to have had the idea of surveys in general, I would of been able to further provide the group with further communication research. I did learn a whole lot and look forward to once again becoming part of research groups in the future and apply what I have learned and improve my roll as as a communication research specialist.

 

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Rutgers Transportation Up to Par?

Transportation at Rutgers University is an issue that needs to be addressed. The bus system has many issues regarding faculty and students; the spacing, the tracking system, the safety all of these come into mind when we think about Rutgers transportation. To compare schools I looked into other Universities in New Jersey, Rugters Newark, Riders, Ramapo, Princeton, Kean, Montcliar, and Fairleigh Dickinson to get better understanding of how bus systems work through various colleges of New Jersey. Rutgers bus system needs improvement, thus looking into other colleges to see what other Universities are doing to provide a 10/10 bus system for their students can help give us ideas on what alternative solutions we can use.

Rutgers New Brunswick and Newark, and Montclair are the only universities that use Nextbus. Nextbus is live tracking system to let students know where the buses are located in real time. Princeton uses “TigerTracker”, which is provided by Transloc. The rest of the universities have a partnership with New Jersey Transit, where students can get a partnership deal with them. This way students pay less for tickets where as normal customers have to pay general admissions.

Aside from Rutgers New Brunswick, Newark, Princeton, and Montclair, Rider University has their own buses also. The only difference is the time scheduling; Rider uses a set time schedule like New Jersey transit rather than a real time tracking system.

It is hard to say which system is better: set time schedule or real time system. We do know that Rutgers University which uses Next bus, has flaws, the buses never arrive on time. The bus drivers take breaks in intervals thus the bus is idol for sometimes 20 minutes at a campus center, also the bus drivers will delay the bus for late students, but at the same time they would leave the students; bus drivers pick and choose who they want to let on the bus.

 

A Step Forward

With the research accumulated the next step would be to look into which system would be better. The New Jersey transit set time style or the Next bus real time schedule. A formal versus a informal style, each has their own positives and negatives but which one’s positives outweigh the negatives.

In addition we can also look into the cost of transportation at these different schools. Is having a partnership deal with NJ Transit better than Rutgers bus schedules. One thing to look into before this is the transportation cost at Rutgers because Rutgers does not specify how much transportation cost, it could be included into the term bill somewhere but it would be beneficial to look into the cost to determine which option is more beneficial in terms of time and money.

 

ASMCP: Finding the calm in the chaos

If you stood outside the Scott Hall bus stop at 12:45PM, and waited 5 minutes for classes to let out, you would just get a glimpse of the monstrosity of what Rutgers University busing is all about. As a student that had class from 11:30AM to 12:50PM two days a week last semester, the struggle of getting on a bus at that bus stop was not only nerve-wracking, but scary, dangerous, and overall, pathetic. Students became aggressive, shoving people over to the side just to claim there spot on the edge of the sidewalk, praying that the doors would open right in front of them. Some wouldn’t wait for those getting off to get off before they stepped on, and every now and then, not-so-kind words would be shared amongst everyone.

The worst thing of all was that I just described myself. When you only have a 20 minute gap between classes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Did I paint a lovely image in your head of what this issue is like? Because in reality, this is reality. This happens everyday at Rutgers University at any given bus stop, and it will continue to be a growing issue as more and more students are accepted to the University.

I would have to say that this issue is so much more than what it appears to be, because any random person would yell “Add more buses!” to try to answer the problem. But if that were the case, then I wouldn’t be writing this blog in a Starbucks right at this very second. What I found during my role in this ASMCP project is that Rutgers University chooses to enroll too many students. From lecture halls to student centers, from dormitories to buses, too many students bring about too many problems. And what’s worse is that students constantly complain and bicker, yet choose not to find any solution and point fingers at a collective nobody.

My role within this project was to focus on how this issue affects the Rutgers University Programming Association, more commonly known on campus as RUPA. And being a member, planning a wide array of events per month, attendees are vital to what we stand for as an organization. We coordinate concerts and coffeehouses, movie screenings and comedy shows, annual festivals and charities, and lectures and crafts for them to enjoy outside of the classroom, a good number of them being free. But free isn’t even worth it in their eyes when they realize they have to get on a REXL just to get there.

So how do we go about solving this issue? Since we are still in the process in finding answers, there are three ways we can move forward.

First, we need to be more transparent. The reason why students constantly complain and bicker is because they never get the answers they are looking for. And this just leads to a very heated, angry tweet with the infamous hashtag “RUscrewed”. By opening this gateway between students, faculty, staff, and most importantly, public safety, students can better understand the reasons as to why things happen the way they do, and the university can understand how big of an issue this problem creates for its students. By taking the time to understand everyone’s position, we can collectively find a better solution instead of aggressively pointing fingers. And we can do this by interviewing different people from all aspects that this issue affects and hearing what they have to say.

Second, we need to take the time and listen to what public safety has to say. As a student, overpopulation and buses can actually get very dangerous. From crossing streets, to filling up a bus past capacity, to what I mentioned previously with waiting at the edge of a crowded sidewalk for the bus to approach, we can’t wait until a tragedy strikes to make moves. Things like these can easily be avoided with new regulations that public safety can voice. So we definitely need to work a lot with them as the University continues to grow and expand.

Lastly, as we search for answers, we can definitely improve upon the current situation and find better ways in moving around campus. For example, students can easily bike, walk, or carpool if their means allow. It saves space for others that are actually trying to get to far destinations, as well as space on the roads during rush hour. Walking and using bicycles also saves energy and gas, creating a more greener environment for everyone. We can continue strides like these and find more innovative ways in using buses. This can mean solar panels on the roofs of buses that energize the buses itself, or turning engines off at student centers when they need to stall for ten minutes. Choices like these can greatly alleviate the problem we are facing today.

 

 

How One Man’s Talent Saved the Blues in America

Stevie Ray Vaughan with his iconic music note guitar strap and flamboyant outfit.

He was absolutely 100-proof, pure blues. Albert Collins, Muddy Waters – the essence of that was in everything he played. More than the Allman Brothers, he was straight-down-the-line blues.” It doesn’t get more prestigious than Greg Allman (the surviving brother of the Allman Brothers) saying that your music had more “blues” than his own. Anyone who’s picked up an Allman brothers record and listened to such songs as “Whipping Post”, “Midnight Rider”, and “Ain’t Wastin Time No More” (recorded in honor of his recently deceased brother Duane). But it was true at the time, and Greg realized the importance behind what Stevie was doing. For anyone who doesn’t know who Stevie Ray Vaughan was, I pity your musically deprived soul on a truly deep level. Stevie Ray Vaughan was regarded as one of the best guitarists as all time, if not the best by some of his fans. He has received praise from all of the biggest names in the game, from BB King, to Eric Clapton, and even Buddy Guy. They all revered his ability to play the guitar like a mad man, seemingly tapping into some kind of stream of inspiration without effort at all, stringing together chords and progressions effortlessly. Stevie could play inspirational guitar for hours on end without a pause to consider what he was going to do next, which even the legendary Eric Clapton admits during the tribute that “I didn’t get to see or hear Stevie play near often enough, but every time I did I got chills and knew I was in the presence of greatness. He seemed to be an open channel and music just flowed through him. It never seemed to dry up.”, which is something “Stevie never had to do”. For any keen readers that have made it this far in the blog and noticed that he is constantly referred to in the past tense, congratulations, you’ve figured it out, Stevie is no longer with us. He was in fact killed before his talent had time to fully mature, and this is why all blues legends who play throughout his tribute came together for one show. After a night of playing a show alongside such greats as Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Eric Clapton on a warm night on the 27th of august in 1990, he passed away in a helicopter crash as he left the venue. Anyone familiar with American folk music from America’s 60’s is aware of the idea of “the day the music died”, which was originally coined by Don Mclean in his song “American Pie”. Well, this is certainly one of those scenarios where many artists felt that “the music” had died. Why? How could just one artist’s passing be responsible for the feeling that “Music” itself had died? Simple. It has a lot to do with the musical and social climate of the time, and perhaps for most listeners, it won’t be until they realize what pop music at the time sounded like in comparison to what Stevie Ray Vaughan was playing that they will recognize the importance of his popularity during that time.

The 80’s were a strange, strange time for music in America. Disco influenced music flooded clubs all over America, with catchy drum kits, synths, and catchy, often over dramatic vocals that lyrically really didn’t say much. This is the time where Michael Jackson was starting to take off as the solo king of pop, putting out hits like Rock With You and Billie Jean, One of the most iconic songs of the times, Sweet Dreams by the Eurhythmics is the poster child for some of the billboard top 100 hits of the time.

The same year that that song began rocking dance halls around the country, a new voice started getting louder and louder in the Blues scene, and that voice belonged to Stevie Ray Vaughn. His music couldn’t get any further away from what the club heavy scene of the 80’s was conducive to, but regardless his releases found critical acclaim. It wasn’t long before his talent began to show through on his album “Texas Flood”, with his signature style of guitar shining throughout the entire song on such iconic originals like Pride and Joy.

His loves for the blues is evident throughout the entire song, and the listener can hear it in every guitar strum and every verse he sings. This was the soul that mainstream music had so readily cast off, and it became huge in the south, and it spread quickly.

 

Being a Texas native, many of the musicians throughout his tribute convey to the listener their surprise that a young white man fromyu Austin, Texas was responsible for the music they were hearing. Eric Clapton even stated that “The first time I heard Stevie Ray, I thought, ‘Whoever this is, he is going to shake the world.’ …That doesn’t happen to me very often…I mean, about three or four times in my life I’ve felt that way, in a car, listening to the radio, where I’ve stopped the car, pulled over, listened, and thought, I’ve got to find out before the end of the day, not, you know, sooner or later, but I have to know NOW who that is.” For such a talented guitarist like Eric Clapton (originally a member of the band Cream, he now sponsors his own guitar festival ) to have given him such attention on the very first song he heard by Stevie Ray Vaughan, it means a lot in terms of that guitarists talent and style as a guitarist. When his debut solo album came out in 1983 he was on stage with Albert King just a few months later, one of the most easily recognizable names in all of blues music at the time.

The implications of Stevie’s popularity were as far reaching as the influence of the music he was playing had been for years. During the 80’s there was a resurgence of race issues that had otherwise been improving since the civil rights movement of the 60’s had gained popularity. With the emergence of the so called “war on drugs” and “crack epidemic”, people began to notice the difference in cultural values that were brought about through either growing up in the predominantly white suburbs, or the much more culturally diverse urban areas. As such, there began to develop two different kinds of pop music, one genre that was seemingly made to reach out to the European, white suburbs, and one for the urban culture. Euro pop, which is essentially exactly what it sounds like, catchy drum kit beats laced with tons of synth and other nontraditional elements to songs. The 80’s also delivered such rock and roll offshoots like “glam metal” and “new wave” to the suburbs, which consisted of “pinch” harmonics and over the top guitar distortion (and a lot of men dressed in very, very questionable cloths, with even more questionable hair styles). On the other side the urban areas got R&B music, along with the early beginnings of rap and hip hop genres to nod their heads to. The reason that Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music became so popular at the time was because he was making Blues music, which is the common ancestor of both Rock and Hip Hop music. His talent grabbed people’s attention, and his style and energy kept it. Because Blues was responsible for essentially all pop music at that time, it allowed him to gain critical and widespread acclaim more readily than any other artist at the time had really experienced besides the King of Pop himself, and Stevie Ray Vaughan was trying to make pop music. He just made really damn good Blues music and found common appreciation on both sides, which held implications for not only him, but the genre as a whole.

Rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughan in sever of his colorful outfits

The idea of a white guy from Austin Texas emerging as one of the most prominent figures in the Blues guitar scene was something new. Sure Eric Clapton had been in the guitar scene for a while holding it down for all the Caucasians, but his style of guitar was more technical, relaxed and thought out. Stevie Ray Vaughan let loose with a barrage of musical notes from his first song to his last, striking notes with fingers of lightning that rang out like thunder. His style caught the attention of a younger crowd than Eric Clapton, and he managed to pull in them in with his energy and passion, while being able to keep within the boundaries of blues music that brought in the older crowds. It was this combination that helped bring Blues back in the 80’s helping it rise back into popularity after feeding off of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s popularity. However Stevie was lucky, because being black in the 1980’s as a musician limited your audience, while being white did not.

The cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s first album

The reason I even have to mention this benefit due to skin color is because of the impact that Ronald Reagan’s presidency had on the status of race relations in the United States. Ronald Reagan cut funding to almost all civil rights programs, leaving many organizations to fend for themselves. The racial gap that developed during this time can be seen through the development of two distinct styles of music, one for affluent members of society and one for lower class, which at the time had VAST differences in terms of ethnic make ups for both groups. Thus it was fitting that Stevie Ray Vaughan helped bring the blues back to the mainstream, because he brought along with him a host of African American artists that had previously had little exposure among the white community. However as Stevie began to play shows and gain more and more notoriety and draw attention to the genre, fellow artists such as Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, and Art Neville (who actually wrote a song about Stevie’s death that his brother Jimmie performs at the end of the tribute).

Art Neville’s song for Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Six Strings Down”

 

The way that Stevie Ray Vaughan revitalized the blues genre in the 80’s is something that has always struck a personal chord in me. While it is plain to see that he is one of the most talented and inspired artists of his time, he was also a very driven entertainer, and was extremely into showmanship, something that is sometimes lacking with popular musicians today (DJ’s getting paid large sums of money to press play on a song then fade over at a predetermined time). Stevie could be seen playing guitars forwards and backwards, with no gap or drop off of performance in between. At the same time he dominated the spotlight, he also chose to share it with his co-performers throughout the show, letting each member of his band get time to shine. He was focused on the experience that the viewer had at each show, something that I feel is not always present in modern day music, with many artists simply going out each night on tour and playing the same show they played at the tour stop before. True musicians make it an effort to get the audience involved with the show, and he could turn a stage like Carnegie hall into a “stomping, hollering roadhouse”. He was a class act through and through, who would be devastated by even a few boos from the crowd, which is exactly what he got after his live at Monteux performance, which to any contemporary viewer was an absolute musical rampage that some members of the crowd just weren’t ready for yet. As I watched the tribute and listened to all of the legendary names talk about their impact experiences with Stevie, I could tell that they all had genuine love and respect for the man, proving to the viewer that through all the publicity and attention, he remained a down to earth, straightforward man. That part of his personality really drew me to him when I had to decide what to write about, because I feel that is the most important part of a musician. They have to love not only the music they make, but the people that making that music puts them in touch with, young and old, musician or non-musician, the connection between the artist and their audience plays a vital role in how they impact the world, and Stevie Ray Vaughan was definitely in the music scene to bring people joy and entertainment and not for himself. That, makes a true artist, and makes his passing a true tragedy in the history of music. One of my favorite quotes from Stevie Ray really sums up the idea that I’ve been trying to get across about him as a musician, and his ability to see people as just people, and how he tried to bridge the gap in between the worlds he had to live in, “But between sets I’d sneak over to the black places to hear blues musicians. It got to the point where I was making my living at white clubs and having my fun at the other places.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan playing behind his back

ASMCP on the Move

“Bus Stop Woes” Courtesy of RU Meme: the Memes of Rutgers University.

In the ASMCP Spring 14 meetings we have been working on compiling research on the issues of transportation here at Rutgers, with more attention on the Rutgers busing system. In relation to the transportation theme project I have primarily focused on finding writings about the busing system and other writings that relate to issues involving the busing system and overall transportation on campus. Most gathered writings have come from The Daily Targum, but other research was taken from an University address by former Rutgers President Richard McCormick. Information was also found, or a lack of attention or information was discovered, in the 2014 University Strategic Plan. The PDF, downloaded by the embedded link, has little written about the current status of transportation on campus, see page 40 of the Plan itself or the 42nd scanned page. Using the Address by McCormick and the University Strategic Plan I hoped to offer some periodization of the transportation concerns from the most recent past University president to the current president. The Daily Targum articles offered thoughts and concerns that have been voiced and can be used to further advance the Rutgers transportation themed project in ASMCP, while simultaneously highlighting the articles’ concerns themselves.

Thinking about the direction of our project for the future more research concerning stated thoughts or opinion by President Barchi; finding if the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) has any opinions or given attention to transportation and the busing system on campus; as well as the transportation’s impact on faculty and staff members of the University from arriving on campus and navigating internally at a campus and among other campuses can be helpful in form and giving depth to the project.

Concerning my own vein and performed researching I have not found any thoughts by President Barchi concerning issues of transportation. Rather than assuming the President has avoided or offered no comments about transportation at the University it necessary to review Addresses and recorded or transcribed meeting to see if he has made or acknowledged concerns involving the buses and transportation. An area worth examining is the Strategic Planing meeting that have pasted in conjugation with the University Strategic Plan.

Second, RUSA is a student body government of the University that concerns themselves with issues at the University. I have not looked into the organization, but it is likely that they  have had some thoughts about transportation and the buses on campus as a student populated organization. If any information is found that was voiced by the RUSA it would be interesting to note when such a thought was voiced, was it acknowledged from a University administration, and if the concern was remedied.

Third, nothing from the faculty and staff’s view point was yet discovered. The buses and issues of parking are a dominating and overt experiences here at Rutgers. Informal remarks are occasionally made in class meetings by faculty, but it would be rewarding for the project to find a more formal comments about the current status of transportation and its impact on University employees. The buses are not exclusive to the students, so concerns and accounts of transportation should include other parties that are effected. Thinking of starting points to perform research might include reviewing Addresses where faculty have posed questions in the question and answer sessions. Other areas include newsletters and opinions written and circulated on campus.

Collectively ASMCP has unearthed great sources of information and research, but more work and research is still  needed. Together we needed to find where holes and gaps are present in our current own research and in the project as a whole. Next we can work together to fill those gaps and support the logical concludes we find ourselves moving towards. Moving towards connecting our research with our compiled storyboard it might be useful to capture live and actual footage of topics raised in our research that are relevant with our storyboard to help ground our project in a physical sensibility rather than detached sense of highlighting concerns with offered solutions that would not actualizing more impressing methods of consciousness raising.

Selling to our Emotions: How Advertisements Shape our Lives

By: William Whitehurst

Cig Ad

“[Viceroys],” [1950]. Image Courtesy of [assetd]

Advertisements, in many ways, are an enormous part of our everyday lives. Not only do they keep you in touch with what the latest and greatest products and services are, but they also create and display American normalities and ways of living. Over time, companies and advertising agencies became smarter in the selling of their products. They finally found that selling the idea of better living and selling to people’s emotions are the most effective ways to gain and retain the attention of people viewing their ads. “General Electric was not alone, either in these outlandish promotional schemes or in its efforts to develop a successful compression refrigerator; the other major refrigerator manufacturers, just as anxious to attract consumer attention, were just as willing to spend money on advertising and promotion. The electric utility companies, which were then in a most expansive and profitable phase of their history, cooperated in selling both refrigerators and the idea of mechanical refrigeration to their customers” (Cowen 138).

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“[Bell Telephone System],” [1954]. Image Courtesy of [apopofpretty]

This advertisement, by the Bell Telephone System, is a portrayal of women in the home. The ad shows a woman in the kitchen on her brand new pink telephone. Her two children, boy and girl, are happily helping her bake a chocolate cake while she takes a brake from cooking to use her new phone. This is a very interesting ad because it is not telling women that they should have this telephone, but it is implying that women need a kitchen extension phone. If they do not have one, then they will not be as happy as the woman in the picture. Woman also will apparently not be able to run their home properly nor be able to keep the biscuits from burning if they do not purchase this convenient phone, as the ad suggests. The ad then goes on to conform to the typical gender norms by saying, “Since the kitchen is where you spend so much time, it makes sense to have a telephone handy.”

japan-war-appeal

“[War Bonds],” [1941]. Image Courtesy of [dailystormer]

This advertisement is very interesting because it is a propaganda poster that was used to instill fear into Americans during war times. In times of war, fear is the easiest emotion to sell to. In this ad, it is clear that the creator had every intention to use fear and shock value as their main attention grabber. No one would want their wife under attack, therefore, the only way to save her and protect your family would be to invest in war bonds. This, in turn, would “Keep this horror away from your home.”

Good advertisements make you believe that if you buy their product, it will in some way enhance your standard of living and make you feel more comfortable at home than ever before. “In the postwar years, investing in one’s own home, along with the trappings that would enhance family life, seemed the best way to plan for the future. Instead of rampant spending for personal luxury items, Americans were likely to spend their money at home” (May 157). Being that the home is a person’s personal domain and the place they feel the most comfortable, it would only make sense that companies appeal to this and exploit the emotion of feeling comfortable at home.

Hoover 115

“[Hoover 115],” [1949]. Image Courtesy of [kcmeesha]

This advertisement is an ad that is clearly intended for women. The main message of this ad reads, “Lucky the Lady who owns the handiest cleaner in America.” This is a very interesting ad because not only does it define women as the only people who should be vacuuming and cleaning, but it also suggests that buying this vacuum cleaner is essential for your home and your happiness. According to the ad, “You’ll be happier with a Hoover.” The ad then goes on to tell all the women reading it that it “will really be your pet” and that it is very manageable and easy to use. However, the most interesting part of the ad is where it reads, “Yet what a man-size job the new Hoover 115 does!” This is intriguing because although this ad is targeted toward women it goes on to say that it does a man-sized job, to infer that it is powerful and strong, like a man, and does a good “man-sized” job. This further speaks to the gender roles and ways that advertisements shape our lives.

Instead of analyzing the product or service that is being advertised, people are more concerned with the name brand, how popular it is, and if other people will like the item when they buy it. It has become more about whether it will boost your socio-status than if the product is actually good or not. “In 1964, the comedian Alan Sherman came up with a recipe for achieving instant stature in the suburbs, ‘Just paint your grass,’ he advised. Sherman was joking, but as Newsweek reported, the quest for perfection was no laughing matter: ‘Last week an easy-to-apply green grass paint was selling in some 35 states’” (Steinberg 70). From what kind of vacuum one has to how green their grass is, pursuing the perfection of home is always something that every homeowner is chasing. This is all thanks to advertising and is the reason why domesticity can be understood as an act of consumption.

References:

1. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, “The Roads Not Taken: Alternative Social and Technical Approaches to Housework,” in More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Heath to the Microwave (1983)

2. Elaine Tyler May, “The Commodity Gap: Consumerism and the Modern Home,” in Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (1990)

3. Ted Steinberg, “The Color of Money,” from American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn (2007)

4. http://apopofpretty.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/bell-telephone-system1from-well-medicatedcom.jpg

5. http://kcmeesha.com/2011/11/20/old-ads-electrics-and-electronics/

6. http://www.dailystormer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Anti-Japanese_World_War_II_propaganda_poster_war_bonds.jpg

7. http://asset-d.soup.io/asset/0749/6549_d6a4_960.jpeg

This post was completed as part of assignment on how the idea of home and the concept of domesticity has been used in marketing during different historical moments and in the present. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-selling-home/.

Capitalism Related to Domesticity

By Mohammad Iqbal

Consumption is necessary for domestic survival; consumption of some product supplied by some company. In  early years, when humans built products such as wooden beds or used kitchenware made from nature, their purpose was to meet the kind of domestic needs that made tough life simpler. Through nature, goods were widely available, and people began to see a change that seemed to benefit them in everyday life – a change promising long-term survival and shelter. Similarly, homes in the modern world have been affected, but in different ways since we are not still as close to nature. Domesticity also became a factor in regards to spending money wisely and maintaining status for a family. As technology advanced, homes became harder to manage as there were several components that needed refilling and maintenance. Consumption of capitalist goods became necessary. Some used the goods for recreation and some used them for necessity. By consumption of capitalist goods, changes were enacted on one’s comfort and status in the house.

lawn-king-ad

“Lawn King” 4/18/14. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

From the 1960s on, lawns became a US home’s main attraction. It came to the point where immaculate lawns indicated the entrance to new free-from-poverty zones, the suburbs. Residents of these suburbs maintained their lawns to display their own home and economic status along with pride that the homeowner’s family were good company, generous benefactors, and welcoming of everyone. When demand for maintaining grass and lawns arose, many companies became mainstream. One such example of those companies is ChemLawn, which provided its customers home services such as cutting/mowing the grass, spraying chemicals, blowing, etc., and thus easing customers’ lives. Lawn specialists in clean uniforms pulled up to a house in tankers carrying chemicals (Steinberg 73). Availability of these services meant more time spent with family and more sophisticated lifestyles for families. In the advertisement selected and published by Lawn King, the company aimed to provide services for the homes because domesticity – or, running the house – was an important factor to the homeowner. Saving time, energy, and money on the house through selecting a lawn service provided a family their comfort and status. Even if the service wasn’t up to par, at least family members were not having to mow their grass by themselves, which was something that only working-class people did, in their opinion. This changed the concept of home because people began to care for their lawn as part of their home and neighborhood and see it as an extension of domesticity.

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“Improvement! Improvement!” 4/18/14. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Although people did not use commercial laundries as much, their influence on domesticity should not be ignored. Laundries, no singular company noted, proliferated in years of World War I and pre-Depression, and customers using this service were mostly women. “The items most commonly sent to commercial laundries were men’s shirts and collars and ‘flatwork’ – handkerchiefs, sheets, tablecloths, and napkins” (Cowan 106). Instead of washing clothes manually, usage of this capitalist service was important to women as it simplified the troubles of washing, ironing, clothes every day. By sending the clothes to mass laundries, women’s work load was reduced. In the advertisement by Bowen promoting his laundry company, he calls for people to bring their orders and leave it to workers who will provide the best service they can, which will also encourage customers to return to the company again. This is relevant to domesticity and social improvement because this chore has greatly reduced the burden of home labor and increased family time/care with children. During these years of laundry proliferation, women were mostly found in factories and stores after men were drafted to fight in wars. Spending most of the day washing laundry would be tiresome and exploiting this service would simply be an asset and a good cool down after a hard day’s work.

car

“Leave your family car home and use that special Hertz Rent-A-Car service!” 4/18/14. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries

Paying for gas costs too much when you own a car. With insurance, gas, and maintenance costs, it is not smart to own a car in tough economic times or struggling financial stages of life. What is better, renting to save money or use money every day that exceeds the price of renting? This is what the advertisement by Hertz Rent-A-Car System is aiming to convey. It is best to benefit from renting a car as it saves daily high purchases and then you can save money to devote to needs in the house rather than waste it on the expenses of owning a car. This affects domesticity by enabling a family to carry out more diverse homely activities and give a sense of comfort, or rather, a comfortable life for each family member. While owning a car emanates a high status, it also brings the person’s life down due to money burdens. The advertisement also shows the organized lifestyle and life of a businessman, assuming he is one by his attire. As a businessman who is knowledgeable of where money travels, he knows what choice he needs to make to prevent his home life and finances from being unstable. By choosing this car service, he has protected his family from being poor and shown he cares for domesticity.

This post was completed as an assignment for the American Studies course, “The Concept of Home.”  A list of the readings that informed this assignment can be found here: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/assignments-the-concept-of-home-spring-2013/  

Gendered Hands: How Advertisements Define Social Roles

By Sara Ziegler

“She is a heroine who does all her own housework; but she seems a genius whose hands never show it. The question women ask every day is, ‘Can I do dishes, wash clothes and clean house and still have hands that do not confess it?’”

The above quote is from a 1925 advertisement for Ivory Soap, a company which ran an ongoing ad campaign on the gentle nature of their soap and its ability to preserve the loveliness of women’s hands throughout many hours of housework. These advertisements, and those of many other companies in the early 20th century, played an active role in defining the gendered roles that would dictate the lives of men and women of the time, and have substantial lingering effects to this day.

Day-long protection for fair hands

“Day-long protection for fair hands”, 1929. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries. This 1929 advertisement seems to define very clearly what was expected of women of the time: busy hours, combined with “hands (that) look as smooth and cool as flower-petals”. The ad seems to imply that femininity can be bought, and as an added bonus, so can charm! The ad reads, “FREE! A little book on charm. What kind of care for different complexions? For hands? For hair? For figures? A little book, ‘On The Art of Being Charming’ answers many questions like these, and is free.” Clearly depicted for the viewer, what it means to have feminine charm includes physical beauty, elegant dresses and jewelry, and the ability to wash dishes. Also notable is the little quote that reads “Smooth white hands add so much to charm!”, subtly excluding other races from achieving this level of femininity.

 

During the depression and World War II, many women were forced to leave the home and head to the workplace. However, when the men returned home (to the United States), women were expected to return home as well (to the kitchen). In The Commodity Gap: Consumerism and the Modern Home, Elaine Tyler May describes how “public opinion polls taken after the war indicate that both men and women were generally opposed to employment for women and believed that a woman who ran a home had a ‘more interesting time’ than did a woman with a full-time job” (159). Despite women’s ventures into the workplace, mainstream opinions had not changed.

“Help! Mummy’s Hands Are Rough!”, 1940. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries. Women were still expected to be dainty and lovely home-makers, as well as being mothers, which is captured in this ad, also for Ivory Soap. Apparently, if a woman’s hands weren’t soft, she was not only not charming, but also a bad mother.

 

In fact, as Cold War politics came into play, the nuclear family and the white picket-fenced suburban home turned full force into tangible manifestations of the American dream (May, 153). In the 1950s, as panic struck over communism, the suburban home and the buying of domestic goods became ways to contain potential threats to the traditional capitalist system. Women and workers were kept at bay as their attention was focused on domestic life. Women and sexuality in general, were to be contained within the home (May, 156). In the five years following World War II, consumer spending on household furnishings and appliances increased 240 percent, as opposed to the 60 percent increase for consumer spending as a whole (May, 157). Women were encouraged to stay at home and tend to their new suburban households, and men were encouraged to go to work in the outside world, earning money to buy more household appliances. Any arrangement outside of this was seen as a threat to capitalism.

“In these hands… more profits in good will”, 1948. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries. Just as women were expected to stay at home, men were expected to work outside the home, perhaps in one of the 400 plants surveyed according to this ad. In stark contrast to the ads directed at women, this ad focuses on the hands in an entirely different way, with the emphasis being on “profits”, “workers”, and the “tough” nature of the paper towels.

 

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, who has explored the many alternative approaches to domestic life that could have occurred, argues that Americans have in a sense chosen to remain focused on family life and family autonomy over community interest and technical efficiency. She says that “the allocation of housework to women is…a convention so deeply embedded in our individual and collective consciousnesses that even the profound changes wrought by the twentieth century have not yet shaken it” (Cowan, 150). Whether or not women chose to remain in the home is a tricky question, but it cannot be denied that the advertisements like the ones explored here have had a profound effect on how we define gender roles in our collective consciousness, whether it be divisions in labor, or something as simple as our own hands.

 

This post was completed as part of assignment on how the idea of home and the concept of domesticity has been used in marketing during different historical moments and in the present. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-selling-home/.

Consumerism in the Home

By: Sabrina Lauredent

Consumer products have always been marketed towards a specific audience to effectively influence the potential consumer, and of course increase the sales of the product. Marketing the product is done strategically in the sense that it recognizes or even creates a need within the potential consumer, by reflecting on the current ideals of a period. Corporations and industries, for example, historically target women with products aimed to “lighten” or decrease the difficulty involved in domestic housework, from meals to vacuuming. Corporations even went as far as to export domestic housework to local community kitchens and commercial Laundromats. However these innovations failed to attract many of their intended consumers, as they still preferred to do this work at home. Within “The Roads Not Taken,” Ruth Schwartz Cowan explains that the “allocation of housework to women is a social convention which developed during the nineteenth century because of a specific set of material and cultural conditions” (150). It is embedded in our daily conscious and still hard to change even in contemporary society. Despite advances in technology, duties like laundry, making meals, etc., remained concentrated in the home to preserve what essentially belongs in the home.

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“To lighten the labor of your home,” 1919. Courtesy of Harvard University Library 

This advertisement details the duties of the woman, possibly the wife of the home. Within the ad, the woman can be seen performing various duties around the home from washing, sewing, and so much more.  This woman has various roles in her home and is able to complete them in a timely manner with the addition of an iron, washing machine, and even a fan. These additional supplies allow her to keep her home clean, reduce the amount of labor involved and maintain a proper appearance as the woman of the home. The caption, “To Lighten the Labor of your Home” serves to emphasize that these duties are concentrated in the home, a place of comfort and with the insurance of privacy.

Consumer products and items often establish and enforce concepts of the time. Ted Steinberg, in his article “The Color of Money,” details the evolution of the American lawn and how it essentially enhanced the thoughts of the home and emphasized the American Dream. Lawns were becoming greener and greener and also served as a symbol for suburban culture. The advertisement below further emphasizes the role of the American lawn and the care that was involved in its maintenance.

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“Burgie Beer,” 1960. Courtesy of AdFlip

Here you can see a couple tending to their lawn, the woman cultivating her garden of flowers, protecting her hands from the grass and the man mowing the lawn reaching for a beer. This advertisement furthers the ideals of the lawn while also enforcing the ideal roles of a man and a women, even outdoors. The woman is portraying the ideals of beauty and lady-like behavior with her appearance and use of gloves. The man is partaking in “manly” behaviors as he is performing the traditionally masculine duty of mowing the lawn and rewarding himself with a beer.

Advertisements of consumer products can also serve to reflect paradigm shifts in society. During the period of the late 1960s and on, women’s rights became a main topic of discussion in American society. Women expanded their roles inside and outside of the home, taking on roles in the workforce while also maintaining their role in the home. The advertisement below is for a floor cleaner, and depicts a woman leaning  on a bow with arrows at her side, standing on top of a clean floor within her home. The caption above emphasizes the change in environment for women as they are no longer restricted to the home, they have “more exciting things to do than scrub floors.” The advertisement is building on the changes in society as a way of marketing their product and making it more attractive to its potential consumers. It also serves to establish a new social norm for its audience: that woman can maintain a clean home and an active lifestyle.

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 Armstrong Flooring, May 1967. Courtesy of AdFlip

 

This post was completed as part of assignment on how the idea of home and the concept of domesticity has been used in marketing during different historical moments and in the present. For additional information on the assignment, please visit:https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-selling-home/.

Women and Advertisements

by Lindsey Malko

Media can be a very influential thing for those who see it, especially women. But the ads in general are targeted toward certain audiences, whether male or female. Lots of advertisements are geared towards women and reinforce a certain gender role that society views them to have. But not only are these forms of media ways to enforce domestic roles that they believe women should have, they can also show the ways women should act towards men.

Advertisements that are the public eye, especially today, have hidden meanings. They not only advertise a product or a television show, but have a certain motive that expresses an underlying message about home life. Based off conclusions from our readings in class, statements published in magazines influence how Americans view and want to be viewed. More commonly, advertisements are directed towards women because the women are the ones who are the ones dealing with the products and cleaning. As May wrote, “After all, American women were housewives; their lives were functional, not merely ornamental. In general, male breadwinners provided the income for household goods, and their wives purchased them” (May, 158). These forms of persuasion were geared towards women because they were the ones that were doing all of the buying of products for their home and taking care of their families, according to the gender roles that society created. Even the creator of the Lawn Doctor contributed to this saying, “a lawn to a homeowner is like lipstick to a woman” (Steinberg, 75). They are directly pointing out and associating the lipstick with the woman. If they want something to get noticed, such as a product, they will make it look more feminine or include pictures of women in the actual advertisements to catch their attention. It really is all about perspective, but by including feminine objects/actual pictures of women, they are triggering the attention of women and therefore recreating the idea of gender roles by gearing these advertisements to the women who they want to purchase their products. Even if an advertisement depicted a woman with a washing machine and was trying to promote them buying, the fact was “that laundry work was the most arduous, uncreative, and yet necessary part of women’s work, and that, hence, [a washing machine] would simplify the burdens of the American housekeeper to have washing and ironing day expunged from her calendar” (Cowan, 106). Advertisements will always be biased towards the audience they want to target, and it is impossible to try and change it within a short time period. It will take a while.

 

Holidays are Kodak Days

 

“Holidays are Kodak Day,” April 18, 2014. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries.

This picture is yet another one geared towards women. In the ad, the woman is holding the camera being advertised. This infers that the woman is the one who is taking pictures in this time period, which happens to be from 1898 and in the Prudential Magazine. Any type of advertisement meant for any specific purchasing intent was geared towards women. Also, women were the ones who were working around the house, and during their free time, they would be flipping through magazines and could view photos like this.

Listerine ad from the 1950’s.

“Listerine, April 15 2014. Courtesy of adflip.com.

As shown above, this picture which came from adflip.com was featured in a 1950s magazine called Photoplay. Although it maybe he hard to read, it is obvious that a woman is the one being targeted for the product. Although this time around, it is not an advertisement for a household object or portraying that the woman is the one meant to be working around the house. This article is for how a woman can keep her man interested. This ad shows that it is the woman’s job to keep the man interested. It is always the woman’s job to essentially “do the work,” whether it be cleaning the house, tending to the children, or making the man happy. The fact that a Listerine ad would include an aspect of a woman losing her man with because of bad breath is a bit ludicrous. It could also show that men were also more shallow in the 1950s. Whatever the reason, some ads were negatively geared towards women, so that they would look and act a certain way.

Gucci

“Gucci,” April 18, 2014. Courtesy of Vanity Fair.

This picture from a 2001 edition of Vanity Fair, gives off a similar yet different feeling of how a woman is supposed to act and portray herself. An advertisement like this is one of the more common forms of “peer pressure” in a sense: that a woman must look a certain way to be accepted in society. Being scantily clad and standing in a fancy pose is part of what influences women of 2001 and today. These publications have moved past ads that only gear their advertisements towards women about cleaning products, but now it has become about clothing and perfume, and a sexy look as well. No matter what, advertisements and the media will always be influential for women and beyond.

 

This post was completed as part of assignment on how the idea of home and the concept of domesticity has been used in marketing during different historical moments and in the present. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-selling-home/.