Grandparenting relations in advertising’s ‘familial fictions’

Stephanie O'Donohoe, Malene Gram*, Caroline Marchant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Since social displays of family life in advertising contribute to the doing and imagining of family, advertising representations of intergenerational relationships merit research attention. Focusing on the under-examined area of family interactions involving grandparents, this content and thematic analysis of 82 North American and European TV/video advertisements highlights how advertising both reproduces and challenges ideals of happy, harmonious families. Consistent with prior research in Western cultures, these ads privilege White, middle-class, heterosexual ways of doing family. Surprisingly, given critiques of advertising idealization, ads depicting intergenerational tension outnumbered those featuring exclusively harmonious relations. Tensions were linked to violations of generational norms, particularly by grandparents, and to conflicting norms confronting different generations. Although gender roles were sometimes blurred in both harmony and tension ads, they were not generally contested by other family members.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Early online date20 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Nov 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • advertising
  • family
  • grandparents
  • gender
  • social displays
  • norms
  • tensions


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