An Interactionist Approach to Document Analysis: Hidden Values in Advertising Images

Maria Fobert Veutro


This work illustrates some social values permeating contemporary society that we can identify through the analysis of a specific kind of document: advertising images. For this study I selected these images, using some criteria, from three weekly magazines published during the first three months of 2012.

From the perspective of Symbolic Interactionism, and with the aid of the ‘sensitizing concept’ notion (Blumer, 1969), the investigation shows that the values are not natural and innate, that they are relative to spatial and temporal contexts, that they have an origin and they can be forgotten. They arise from social construction (Berger and Luckmann, 1966) and definition of the situation (Thomas, 1972 [1931]). Furthermore, especially in contemporary societies, values that are contradictory coexist.

Some of the conceptual constructs resulting from the research, and reported in this study, have been so named: Quantitymania, Competition, Success, Distinction, Reification, Myth of eternal youth.

The results of the analysis are still used for a teaching workshop with a twofold objective: to train students to use a qualitative research analysis tool with the invitation to activate their sociological imaginations and to refine their perception; to illustrate socio-psychological theoretical references through an interactive and also involving modality, because it makes reference to contemporary reality.


social values; document analysis; advertising images

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