To be or not to be Governed like That? Harmful and/or Offensive Advertising Complaints in the United Kingdom’s (Self-) Regulatory Context

Kristina Auxtova (Lead / Corresponding author), Mary Brennan, Stephen Dunne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    116 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    This paper demonstrates how the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) governs advertising ethics with and on behalf of its members and stakeholders. Drawing on an archive of 310 non-commercial (i.e. not-for-profit and public) adjudication reports, we highlight the substantive norms and procedural mechanisms through which the ASA governs advertising complaints alleging offence and/or harm. Substantively, the ASA precludes potential normative transgressions by publishing, disseminating, consulting upon, and updating detailed codes of advertising conduct. Procedurally, the ASA adjudicates between allegations and justifications of offence and harm on a received complaint-by-complaint basis, often upon consequentialist grounds. Such consequentialism, we claim, has the effect of normalizing power imbalances between the ASA’s members, on the one hand, and wider stakeholders, on the other hand. The paper argues that, in the context of UK advertising, what Michel Foucault called the right ‘to be or not to be governed like that’ is enjoyed by relatively few subjects. Having demonstrated how UK advertising practices are governed, the paper closes with suggestions as to how they might be governed otherwise.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)425–446
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Volume172
    Issue number3
    Early online date18 Mar 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

    Keywords

    • Advertising Ethics
    • Advertising Regulation
    • Offensiveness and Harmfulness
    • Offensiveness and harmfulness
    • Advertising regulation
    • Advertising ethics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Law
    • General Business,Management and Accounting
    • Business and International Management

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