Consumer Media Anthropology

Consumer media anthropology is an emerging subfield of anthropology. It started within visual anthropology, a cross disciplinary area that looks at visual representation in film, art, photographs, movies. Since anthropology is a holistic science, the ways in which these visual objects are embedded in the context of culture and society is key.

Media can be defined as a cultural phenomenon; a cultural system that contributes to the social construction of reality. By extension, consumer media anthropology is the field that studies the way culture shapes society through commercial mass media. The idea is that media and brands mediate meaning.

The picture above is an example of consumer media anthropology.  This “white Coke” picture was taken in Mexico City on a busy commercial street full of street vendors. The plastic soda bottles, once a medium to communicate brand meaning, has now been repurposed by resourceful merchants to hold a homemade cleaning solution. The meaning of the branded visual artifact now takes on a new life in a different context.