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Discussion #1
Just how powerful are brands? Brands can be quite powerful sometimes. A fascinating story about some interesting research in this article How food superbrands manage to become your family. Read and write a discussion paper.

Discussion #2
Write a discussion paper on Deindividuation.

Discussion #3
Our own social status influences the way our brains respond to others. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity in a part of the brain's value system, a region of the brain known as the ventral striatum. They found that people of higher socioeconomic status show greater brain activity in response to other high-ranked individuals, while those with lower status have a greater response to other low-status individuals.

Discussion #4
What Kind of Coffee Do You Unwittingly Resemble? Social judgements of consumption take place in all kinds of contexts. In this article, a reporter for the Houston Press learns that coffee shop baristas judge their customers. "I felt as if I'd been Frappuccino-spotted that morning... instantly pegged as the type of customer who neither knows nor respects their coffee, and relegated to a second-tier consumer with a single glance. It was both insulting and intriguing."

Discussion #5
Sound beams for ads. Write a discussion paper based on the article I hear voices: Could highly directional sound advertising be the next big thing?

Discussion #6
Jake Reilly's 'Amish Project:' 90 Days Without a Cell Phone, Email and Social Media. Read the article '' Obama demapnds TV stations take down despicable ad'' and write a discussion paper.

Discussion #7
Consumer culture critics come from many different backgrounds. In this article, an extremely successful entrepreneur writes of his efforts to downsize his life and consumption and urges the rest of us to do the same. In this posting ''It Would Be Great if Millionaires Would Not Lecture Us on 'Living With Less'', a blogger takes issue with the message and the source of the message. Read and react.

Discussion #8
Discuss the article: IT: United we stand. In line. At the cash register… If there’s one issue Americans can rally around, it’s consumption. We all want stuff. Lots of stuff. As much as our wallets and purses will allow, and usually more.

Discussion #9
Discussion of Steven Johnson, "Television"
Johnson has an interesting premise. Lots of cultural goods (music, movies, video games) are not dumbing us down, but instead, are asking more from their consumers every year.
Is Johnson right? Can you think of other examples from TV? What are some other shows that really demand a lot from their viewers? What do they demand of their audience? Is culture making us smarter, or is he (and we) cherry-picking examples? Does that matter? Does all of culture have to become more complicated for it to be a legitimate advance? Can you think of other examples from other so-called cultural goods, outide of television?

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Discussion #1

The immediate answer to the question has to be 'very' - for example, I grew up thinking Chiquita was not just a brand but a variety of banana--THE variety--and learned that Chiquita bananas are of the 'Grande Naine' clone just a few minutes ago. Really, when practically every banana you've ever seen had that distinctive blue and yellow sticker on it, what else could you think?! But! I think, at least anecdotally, superbrands can be supplanted, and perhaps rather easily - their hegemony seems to me far more tenuous than the article makes it seem. The problem is that branding and marketing are, ultimately, 'superficial' - and, thus, they can be approximated and appropriated, and then supplanted by non-branding elements, such as price. Honestly, many people--of a demographic different to that of the article's author--would find upon opening their cupboards that it isn't familial big brands that greet them warmly but suspiciously similar-to-big-brand-looking off-brand containers that offer nothing more than an indifferent wave and a shrug.


Discussion #2

Deindividuation

There is something existentially terrifying in the notion and actuality of deindividuation. Why/how? Simply, it is a death of sorts. No, not "of sorts" - it is death. The reasoning is straightforward, I think. We are absolutely invested in our identities, our individuations. When we experience those existential moments during which we contemplate the finitude of our existence, it is the discontinuation--to liken ourselves to a canceled TV show or no-longer produced item--of our identities, of that essence we take to be ourselves, that causes the terror. But such is precisely what happens in the deindividuation that occurs as...
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