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Title: Generating ‘happiness’ : a semiotic and thematic analysis on experiences of consumption and media marketing strategies for Inanda parents
Authors: Mbili, Sindisiwe Sweetness 
Keywords: Media marketing;Consumption;Parents;Happiness
Issue Date: 9-Aug-2023
This dissertation explored ways that parents in Inanda perceive and manage media messages and
consumer choices within the generational demands to keep their children happy. Using the
interpretive approach, the study looked at semiotic and general thematic analyses to understand
the messages that parents respond to when raising young people in this township. The researcher
also addressed the dynamic relationships that exist between consumer actions and how parenting
takes place in the 21st Century. The study also pursued the main research problem of how the
media plays a role in shaping consumer patterns among parents and it also explored the driving
force behind Inanda parents’ consumption patterns in trying to create a ‘better’ world for their
children by means of buying them material things. To address this, the researcher applied
Arnould and Thompson’s (2005) consumer culture theory that looks at a form of material culture
that is often driven by the market for consumers to attain a certain lifestyle. The secondary
theory is McLuhan’s (1964) communication theory which upholds that the audience is a vital
part of the communication process. The two theories are used to better understand how signs and
symbols are communicated to consumers via the media, resulting in consumption culture.
Using purposive sampling, the researcher conducted face-to-face interviews which were semi structured around the main research questions, with questions that are open-ended for probing
purposes (See Appendix C) to critically analyse the effects and influence media marketing
strategies have on how consumers receive and perceive these messages. Additionally,
photographs of children (with permission from their parents) were used (with children’s faces
blurred out) as part of data collection. The messages that are passed on to potential consumers
through the media are usually in a form of signs and symbols and to better comprehend the main
objective of this dissertation the use of semiotic and general thematic analyses put the researcher
in a favourable position to decode, analyse, interpret, organise and define data in line with the
view that semiotics is the study of signs and symbols in works of art (Ferreira 2007), while
general thematic can be used to make sense of collective or mutual meanings and experiences by
concentrating on context through present data (Braun and Clarke 2012).
This project moved towards an understanding that media has the power to persuade young
people into believing that happiness comes at a price and that their lives will only be perfect if
they buy the latest products on the market (Klein 2000).
Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the Master of Journalism degree at the to the Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2023.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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