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Tangled Goods

The Practical Life of Pro Bono Advertising

Tangled Goods

The Practical Life of Pro Bono Advertising

A novel investigation of pro bono marketing and the relationship between goods, exploring the complex moral dimensions of philanthropic advertising.
The advertising industry may seem like one of the most craven manifestations of capitalism, turning consumption into a virtue. In Tangled Goods, authors Iddo Tavory, Sonia Prelat, and Shelly Ronen consider an important dimension of the advertising industry that appears to depart from the industry’s consumerist foundations: pro bono ad campaigns. Why is an industry known for biting cynicism and cutthroat competition also an industry in which people dedicate time and effort to “doing good”?
Interviewing over seventy advertising professionals and managers, the authors trace the complicated meanings of the good in these pro bono projects. Doing something altruistic, they show, often helps employees feel more at ease working for big pharma or corporate banks. Often these projects afford them greater creative leeway than they normally have, as well as the potential for greater recognition. While the authors uncover different motivations behind pro bono work, they are more interested in considering how various notions of the good shift, with different motivations and benefits rising to the surface at different moments. This book sheds new light on how goodness and prestige interact with personal and altruistic motivations to produce value for individuals and institutions and produces a novel theory of the relationship among goods: one of the most fraught questions in sociological theory.

208 pages | 5 halftones, 1 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Sociology: Collective Behavior, Mass Communication, General Sociology, Occupations, Professions, Work


“If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Tavory et al. reveal that the path to heaven is paved with morally ambiguous and flexible ones. This book is a true pleasure to read, and it opens exciting paths for future research.”

Hannah Wohl, author of Bound by Creativity: How Contemporary Art Is Created and Judged

“The authors offer a subtle analysis of the practices of pro-bono advertising that opens a window into the social world of advertising and of corporate social responsibility, as well as a thoughtful and compassionate account of the human and moral dimension of life in business. This work is an original contribution to cultural sociology and the sociology of values and valuation.”

Monica Krause, author of The Good Project: Humanitarian NGOs and the Fragmentation of Reason

Table of Contents

1. Advertising for Good
2. Morality in Pro Bono Work
3. Good Work; or, The Gift of Unalienated Labor
4. The Elephant in the Field: Awards and Recognition
5. Curatorial Work: Managers and Organizational Pressures
6. Navigating Goods: Boundaries and Bridges
7. Evaluating Goods: Questions of Measurement
8. Tangled Goods
Appendix: Notes on Method

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