In the humanities and social sciences, the rise of global capitalism has been associated with the increasing loss of difference in cultural production. Less attention has been given to how difference may be globally mobilized for symbolic and material profit. Due to the centrality of ‘design’ in the global economy, the study of visual communication industries and case studies provides a fertile and needed area of inquiry to advance the academic debate on homogenization and heterogenization in relation to cultural globalization. The proposed project will examine the significance and profitability of (social and cultural) difference, rather than sameness, in contemporary marketplaces of visual communication. Through an innovative combination of qualitative research methods, the project will: 1) identify key cases from across industries (e.g. branding, advertising, photography) and gather multiple data sources; 2) describe visual texts both syntactically and perceptually; 3) interpretively situate texts in their contexts of production, distribution and/or reception; 4) interrogate the practices of visual communication professionals; 5) critically examine the relationship between visual communication and globalization, and evaluate its linkages with power relations in contexts of advanced capitalism. The importance of this research lies in its ability to integrate the ‘micro’ perspective of textual/semiotic detail with the ‘macro’ perspective of cultural/social theory. The project will have a major impact on the state of the art by drawing attention to the cultural and economic importance of the work of visual communication professionals, who are increasingly responsible for the (re)production of social and cultural differences in everyday life. The proposed research will also enable an experienced early career researcher to transfer her work from the US to the EU, stimulate collaborative activities between the EU and the US, and develop EU-wide research partnerships.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call