Mathematical images in advertising: constructing difference and shaping identity, in global consumer culture

Evans, Jeff and Tsatsaroni, Anna and Czarnecka, Barbara (2014) Mathematical images in advertising: constructing difference and shaping identity, in global consumer culture. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 85 (1). pp. 3-27. ISSN 0013-1954

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Mathematics educators have long emphasised the importance of attitudes and feelings towards mathematics, as crucial in motivating (or not) its learning and use, and as influenced in turn by its social images. This paper is about images of mathematics. Our search for advertisements containing such images of in UK daily newspapers, during 2006-2008, found that 4.7% of editions included a ‘mathematical’ advert, compared with 1.7% in pilot work for 1994-2003. The incidence varied across type of newspaper, being correlated with class and gender profiles of the readership. Three-quarters of advertisements were classified as containing only very simple mathematics. ‘Semiotic-discursive’ analysis of selected advertisements suggests that they draw on mathematics not to inform, but to connote qualities like precision, certainty and authority. We discuss the discourse on mathematics in advertising as ‘quasi-pedagogic’ discourse, and argue that its oversimplified forms, being empty of mathematical content, become powerful means for regulating and ‘pedagogising’ today’s global consumers.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online 02 Oct. 2013
Keywords (uncontrolled): mathematical images; press advertisements; discourse analysis; quasi-pedagogic discourse; popular culture; social class.
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Marketing, Branding and Tourism
Item ID: 18191
Notes on copyright: The final publication is available at Springer via
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Depositing User: Jeff Evans
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2015 20:59
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2018 02:41

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