Timely lives and lively times in a French advertising agency
thesisposted on 03.07.2014, 11:22 by François Bouchetoux
The thesis presents an ethnographic study of a group of cultural intermediaries at work in a French advertising agency. A theoretical frame drawn from selected works in cultural economy, sociology and philosophy is deployed to address the ill-understood nature of uncertainty in practice-based research on advertising. Practice-based accounts by marketers, sociologists and anthropologists typically suggest that advertising agencies are unstable businesses because they work with unpredictable stakeholders (consumers and above all clients), and because they struggle to establish the legitimacy of their expertise. The problem with this argument, however, is that whilst it insists on the fragmented identities of practitioners locked in their doubts, anxieties and even myths, the everyday nature, experience and ways in which cultural intermediaries deal with such uncertainties are underexplored. During the three-month empirical study multiple research methods were used to collect data, including participant observation, interviews and visual techniques. It was established during fieldwork that uncertainty is best expressed in the awkward relationships practitioners entertain with time. The analysis of these relationships runs through three analysis chapters. One explains how imaginative conversations, practices and uses of objects seek to restrain time-related uncertainties by ―constructing‖ time. The second further analyses this construction by describing the ways in which practitioners unshackle themselves from their feelings of wasting time. The third relates this construction to the ways in which time is incorporated into creative work and sold to clients. The thesis contributes a deeper and temporally-based interpretation of uncertainty to the small number of ethnographic studies of advertising agencies.