Mathematical images in advertising: constructing difference and shaping identity, in global consumer culture
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AbstractMathematics educators have long emphasised the importance of attitudes, beliefs, 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 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.
CitationEvans J, Tsatsaroni A, Czarnecka B (2014) 'Mathematical images in advertising: constructing difference and shaping identity, in global consumer culture', Educational Studies in Mathematics, 85 (1), pp.3-27.
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