Consumer Identities & Social Change Symposium

Sofia Altamura, Contributing Writer

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St. John’s University hosted the Consumer Identities and Social Change Symposium at the D’Angelo Center on Friday, March 22, where panelists covered thought-provoking topics that are relevant to new media and the idea of consumerism in America as it relates to technology.

This symposium — organized by  Myles Ethan Lascity, journalism assistant professor at the Southern Methodist University, and Dr. Candice Roberts, assistant professor and director of communication arts at St. John’s — allowed panelists to discuss various topics. Those included consumer culture and the boundaries of commerce, minority representation in culture, the shifting ideology to advocacy and action and the changing practices in consumerism.

A number of the panelists that presented are St. John’s professors. For instance, Neil Feinstein, an assistant advertising professor in the mass communication division, gave a timely presentation on “Advocacy Influencers in the Age of #activism.”

Feinstein discussed the now common practice of organizations seeking to associate themselves with a certain cause, as young people often look to work at companies that have a heart for or are mindful of social justice.

He also discussed the major impact and reach that social media influencers can potentially have. This was most recently exemplified by Alyssa Milano who helped get the #MeToo movement on its feet with a simple post on her Twitter account. Feinstein, as well as the other professors, explained how the concept of consumer identity and connection with the consumer can promote vital social change.

In addition to the professors, some of the people that presented are current students of St. John’s.

Katelyn Prieto and Daniel Londoño are both freshman that gave presentations entitled “1950s to Now: Youth Culture and Marketing to the Teenager” and “Dear Simon, It’s Not About The Closet,” respectively.

Both Prieto and Londoño believe that this symposium was important because the issues discussed and analyzed are extremely pertinent for college students, and are issues that will not go away anytime soon. In fact, they affect each and every one of our daily lives.

“Everyone in college is an average consumer about to go into the workforce and so it is important to learn about topics like consumerism in a three-dimensional space,” Prieto said.

The theme of consumer identity and social change is one that Londoño said is important for St. John’s to give a platform to.

“St. John’s University is full of millennials that are presently building their identities in social media, whether that is Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, so it is critical to take a step back, understand what we are getting into and think about what we are doing,” Londoño said.

 

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