Dissertation Abstracts

Selling Knowledge: A Sociological Analysis of Attorney Advertisements in Las Vegas

Author: Velasquez, Giselle , giselle.1444@hotmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
Supervisor: Robert Futrell, Ph.D.
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Advertisement , Law Firm , Television , Content Analysis
Areas of Research: Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Political Sociology , Human Rights and Global Justice


I analyze how Las Vegas attorneys represent themselves, their associates and clients in televised law firm commercials. I use attorney commercials as a case to explore cultural beliefs in media representations. Using an inductive method, I analyze the textual, visual, and aural symbols that appear most frequently in television commercials to interpret how law firm advertisements convey themes of attorney expertise, knowledge, ethnic and gender stereotyping. I introduce this study with a historical evaluation of the rise of advertisement in the United States. I continue discussing how the media is an important realm of discourse that affects people’s identity. Using examples of attorney advertisements, I explain gender and ethnic representations, how attorneys construct their image, and the use of dramatic presentations. In the methods section, I explain the two approaches I used: First, a quantitative evaluation of 504 hours of television programming from January 11 to February 18, 2006, distinguishing the number of attorney commercials vs. other products and services; second, a qualitative evaluation identifying common themes in attorney commercials relating those to broader sociological theories. I conclude my evaluation suggesting the use of alternative media to inform the public of their legal rights, and suggest that statistical data on law firm performance and consumer satisfaction need to be available in public records.