The green car: Television automobile advertising and the environmental attitudes of television viewers

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

Television contributes to social learning. Most people believe in supporting the environment yet high-polluting, gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks are the most popular vehicles purchased by Americans. The literature supports the view entertainment television talks very little about the environment and the causes or solutions to pollution. Television informational programming rarely reports on environmental issues and may actually vilify the environment by emphasizing natural disasters, storms, etc. Some informational programs trivialize nature.

Into this milieu, ubiquitous ads trumpet the automobile as a means to access and dominate nature. Mobility and the status of owning an automobile are lifestyle values advanced by the Dominant Social Paradigm and its cultural arm, television. The automobile is the most advertised product in history. Manufacturers have made automobiles an integral part of the American lifestyle by placing automobiles prominently in cultural products such as movies, songs and television shows and supporting the products with billions of dollars in advertising. For over 100 years, ads portrayed the automobile as a means to access and dominate nature, a form of status and an integral component of the American Dream.

This project documents the role of automobiles and mobility in popular culture through a cultural history of the automobile. A content analysis of 200 automobile commercials was conducted to investigate natural images in television ads. Finally, focus group research was used to hear discourses about automobiles, the environment and automobile advertising.

Americans privilege mobility. The role of the automobile in American society and culture is quite salient. Although people articulate concern for the environment in the abstract, the root causes of these problems do not seem apparent to most people. Immediate action or action by individuals to address environmental problems is not critical. There is considerable faith that technology, industry or the government will solve environmental problems before they impact lifestyle. Industry causes pollution, not people or the consumerist lifestyle.

Indexing (details)

Mass media;
Environmental science;
Automobile industry;
Hybrid vehicles;
Television advertising;
Consumer attitudes;
Environmental protection;
0708: Mass media
0338: Marketing
0768: Environmental science
Identifier / keyword
Health and environmental sciences; Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Advertising; Automobile advertising; Environmental attitudes; Television
The green car: Television automobile advertising and the environmental attitudes of television viewers
Hughes, Will
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542197819, 0542197812
Morgan, Michael
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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