The Branded Self

  • Arthur Asa Berger


This chapter deals with the way people use brands of products they purchase to define themselves to others and themselves and gain an identity. It considers the works of Saussure and semioticians which suggest that the meanings of things are socially transmitted and socially learned. This suggests that society is more than just a group of individuals, as the German sociologist Georg Simmel pointed out. I also quote from the Russian scholar M.M. Bakhtin about the intertextual nature of the creative process and suggest this helps explain our use of fashion to help create an identity. This leads to a discussion of the role of semiotics in branding by Laura Oswald. The example of attending elite universities as a means of self-branding is offered, followed by a discussion of the role of fashion in branding. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the self as a collection of brands that we use, and continually change as we redefine ourselves to others.


Self Brands Semiotics Intertextuality Society Simmel Bakhtin 


  1. Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1981) The Dialogical Imagination: Four Essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, Arthur Asa. “The Branded Self.” American Sociologist (Vol. 42, No. 2, 232–239, 2011).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Culler, Jonathan. (1986). Ferdinand de Saussure. Revised Edition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Klapp, Orrin. (1962). The Collective Search for Identity. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Asa Berger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication ArtsSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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