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Consumer culture: Are we being bought?

Photograph of a baby chewing on a credit card

Above: Food for the Wallet, photo by Dinkel CC-BY-2.0

About this unit:

In this inquiry-based unit, students will focus on using critical literacy skills to explore consumer culture and the world of advertising. The unit will develop the students’ understanding of the specific persuasive devices commonly used in print, television and online advertising. The students will use critical literacy strategies to inquire into both the obvious and the ambiguous messages behind advertising. They will undertake critical and creative work, including speaking and listening activities. More

Duration and sequence pathways:

This unit is designed to be taught over eight weeks, with suggested pathways that could be moved to allow the unit to be taught in six weeks (two sequences per week). More information

Resources used:

See a list of resources used in each sequence, plus additional teaching resources.

Unit writer:

Erika Boas

Australian Curriculum: English Year 7

Sequence 1: What do we know about being persuasive?

Sequence 2: Why do we love brands so much?

Sequence 3: Persuasive techniques used in advertising – Part 1

Sequence 4: Persuasive techniques used in advertising – Part 2

Sequence 5: Clever or kitsch? Advertising gimmicks and fads 

Sequence 6: Connections between advertising and lifestyles

Sequence 7: Online marketing and consumer habits

Sequence 8: What will the future of advertising bring?

Sequence 9: The ethical consumer: Part 1

Sequence 10: The ethical consumer: Part 2

Sequence 11: Being consumer savvy in the 21st century:  Part 1

Sequence 12: Being consumer savvy in the 21st century: Part 2

Australian Curriculum: English Year 7

How Cross-curriculum priorities relate to this unit

The notion of being consumer savvy is the thread that links the sequences together in this unit and is a concept that relates to the Sustainability Cross-curriculum priority. Students will recognise that there is a range of factors affecting our consumer choices. They will understand that as consumers they have the power to make ethical and socially responsible decisions.

As informed consumers they can be aware of the buying power of advertisers and they will understand that our consumer decisions can have a wide social, economic and environmental impact. In Sequences 9 and 10 in particular, students will closely explore ethical consumerism and the importance of making informed decisions when purchasing particular products.

Australian Curriculum: English Year 7

How General Capabilities relate to this unit

As the students read, write about, think, discuss and explore the key concepts and ideas in this unit, a number of General Capabilities come into play, namely Literacy and Critical and Creative Thinking (a focus in all sequences).

In Sequence 9, the students will draw on Numeracy skills as they participate in a class survey and calculate percentages. In Sequences 1, 5, 10, 11 and 12, they will explore Personal and Social Capability as they participate in group activities, share personal opinions and manage the completion of assigned tasks.

In Sequences 9 and 10 the students are encouraged to apply an ethical outlook, with regard to Ethical Understanding, as they explore their personal values and the attributes of ethical consumerism.

Curriculum summary for this unit:

Find a summary table for the three strands of Literature, Literacy and Language and sub-strands with links to elaborations in sequence content.

Rich assessment tasks:

The students complete a series of formative assessment tasks to track their understandings throughout the unit, and present them in a portfolio for assessment. Receptive assessment involves the compilation of worksheets and written reflections in an advertising journal, or digitial blog as an alternative, as detailed in Assessment task 1. The productive assessment tasks involve the creation of a fad campaign and a guide to being consumer savvy in the 21st century (Assessment task 2), from Sequences 5, 11 and 12.