Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Media & Communication; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Lisa Holderman

Second Advisor

Alan Powell

Abstract

Cultivation theory, proposed by George Gerbner, suggests that patterns across the media are used to warp viewers perceptions of reality, slowly creating beliefs and changing habits of frequent viewers. The theory was originally only applied to the study of television in the 1960s because it was the first medium of its kind to be accessible to anyone; there are no age or literacy restrictions for television. However, as media had evolved, cultivation theory has expanded. The theory can now be applied to other mediums such as social media. This paper explores the relationship between Instagram’s fashion community and materialistic values. This materialism is cultivated on three levels- the fashion publication, the celebrity, and the fashion influencer. The fashion publication promotes stories the revolve around continuously shopping to keep up with new trends. The Celebrity promotes unrealistic lifestyle goals and pushes followers to purchase low quality lookalikes. The fashion influencer lives a seemingly average life with the exception that their photos rarely repeat an outfit. Since they can come up with an entirely new outfit in every post, followers feel the need to wear an entirely new outfit just as often. These materialistic views, promoted by all three tiers of the fashion industry, push consumer behavior which leads in an increase in purchasing, benefiting fashion brands more than anyone else.

Additional Files

Thesis Slides.pptx (10249 kB)

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The Cultivation of Materialism in the Fashion Community on Instagram

Cultivation theory, proposed by George Gerbner, suggests that patterns across the media are used to warp viewers perceptions of reality, slowly creating beliefs and changing habits of frequent viewers. The theory was originally only applied to the study of television in the 1960s because it was the first medium of its kind to be accessible to anyone; there are no age or literacy restrictions for television. However, as media had evolved, cultivation theory has expanded. The theory can now be applied to other mediums such as social media. This paper explores the relationship between Instagram’s fashion community and materialistic values. This materialism is cultivated on three levels- the fashion publication, the celebrity, and the fashion influencer. The fashion publication promotes stories the revolve around continuously shopping to keep up with new trends. The Celebrity promotes unrealistic lifestyle goals and pushes followers to purchase low quality lookalikes. The fashion influencer lives a seemingly average life with the exception that their photos rarely repeat an outfit. Since they can come up with an entirely new outfit in every post, followers feel the need to wear an entirely new outfit just as often. These materialistic views, promoted by all three tiers of the fashion industry, push consumer behavior which leads in an increase in purchasing, benefiting fashion brands more than anyone else.

 
 

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