John Berger’s Ways of Seeing Episode 4


  1. According to Berger, how do “publicity”–what we would call advertising–images influence consumers and why is this significant?


According to Berger, publicity influences consumers by displaying “images of an alternate way of life.” These images pretend to offer the consumer a reward of a better existance if we were to purchase these items. They convince consumers that they will become enviable, which will make them happier. It is significant because we see these images everywhere we go, and even if we don’t remember these images, they still manage to influence our daily decisions.



  1. As he compares oil painting to publicity (advertising) photography, Berger argues that oil painting “showed what the owner was already enjoying among his possessions and way of life;” “it enhanced his view of himself as he already was.”  Whereas publicity pictures, “appeal to a way of life that we aspire to or think we aspire to.” Why are these differences important? What do they reveal to us about the production of images for publicity?


Berger explains that oil paintings like publicity images both revolve around the concept that “you are what you have”.  Oil paintings, however, were used to enhance the self-image of its owner. Publicity images are purposed to persuade people to purchase possessions. These images offer false promises of greater happiness in life, from better relationships to a better home. To achieve this happiness, one needs money to acquire it. These images are all created to enhance the selfish greed that is inherent in human nature. It feeds the need to feel like oneself is better than others.


  1. Choose one of the “dreams” he offers or think of your own. How does this dream offered by advertising use imagery to manipulate consumers?


One of the dreams Berger alludes to, is the skin dream. Imagery in magazines, on TV, and now on social media offer a dream of beauty by purchasing their products. It manipulates consumers to believe that if you buy them you too will share this beauty by having flawless skin and in turn be more desirable. This deception is furthered by technology, beyond that of the lighting and cameras of Berger’s day, and has evolved to include digital tools that enhance the image to be more visually pleasing than the reality could ever be. This technology has enabled anyone with a computer to enjoy this manipulation of images to sell you their own experiences online.

7 thoughts on “John Berger’s Ways of Seeing Episode 4

  1. tenzin w paling

    Hi Scott, i agree with you about those advertisement images influencing us in daily decisions even though we don’t remember the images clearly. I believe these publicity somehow are able to play with our subconscious through manipulating images creatively to draw our attention and entice us in buying their products that we don’t actually need it.

  2. christopher cordovez

    I agree with how they use The skin dream to promises the consumer into buy their product. If so, they will also have perfect skin just like the image that is shown in the product.

  3. Irina Pistol

    Scott I agree with your third paragraph about skin dream. Nowadays, wrinkles is a shame for some people, who are manipulated by ads, they want to be forever young, and to have a smooth skin buying the most expensive skin products advertised on the market.

  4. Ngawang Tashi

    Hi scott, I toally agree with your response to the question above and I like what you stated about money people think money is a main source of happiness but indeed it’s not.

  5. Dilora Kabilova

    I am impressed and agree with your answers. I would like to note the global importance of the work of advertising in general. I am convinced that advertising is a great help for the growth of the country’s economy. For example, demonstrating a glamorous life and luxury, advertising excites the desire of the buyer to reach these heights. Accordingly, it stimulates the consumer to increase wealth, working for the manufacturer. Eventually, In this chain of finances and desires, the country’s economy is growing rapidly, gaining world prestige and respect.

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