Tales from the crypt: A psychoanalytic approach to disability representation in advertising

Jonatan Södergren, Joel Hietanen, Niklas Vallström

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review

4 Citeringar (Scopus)
42 Nedladdningar (Pure)


Representation is key in the politics of mass-mediated consumer society. Although previous research has noted that representation in advertising generates greater societal visibility for people with disabilities, focus has largely been on negative unintended consequences from a psychological or socio-cultural perspective. The purpose of this study is to explore the complexities involved in the making of a collective psyche related to disability, pointing instead to how the psychic and the social are mutually constitutive. By focusing on market-mediated representation in the form of advertising campaigns, we highlight both potentials and pitfalls of social transformation such as reducing stigma. We use, as revelatory cases, two relatively recent campaigns that sought to include people with disabilities on the Swedish market. We build upon Abraham and Torok’s psychoanalytic theorizing to offer a novel approach of studying market inclusion in the context of disability representation. By delineating the “social crypt,” we elucidate two processes by which stigmatized narratives enter the public consciousness: incorporation (i.e., a process by which stigma is reproduced in the collective unconscious) and introjection (i.e., a form of gradual awareness leading to destigmatization). We find that the inclusion of disability in advertising can potentially work to reduce stigma, but also to inadvertently serve as a subtler form of market exclusion by intensifying the cultural semiotics of capitalized ableism.
TidskriftJournal of Consumer Culture
StatusPublicerad - 2022-nov.-18

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Tillämpad psykologi (50102)
  • Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap (508)


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