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Sociologica

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Abstract
Moving from a theory of iconic power, the article offers an understanding on the ways the iconic power of Apple technologies has emerged since the first Macintosh advertising campaign in 1984. This description of Apple’s iconic power will be the basis for a preliminary reflection concerning the interwoven dimensions that bond together mobile technologies, cultural meanings and consumer experience in today’s capitalist society. The article shows three different processes through which Apple has become a powerful iconic presence in today’s digital society. The first dimension directly refers to the firm’s communicative strategies and the ways in which Apple has developed its iconic status with advertising by mobilizing wider cultural frameworks and symbolic structures in society. The second dimension refers to the processes involving users’ and consumers’ appropriation of Apple’s meanings and images, with specific reference to the way consumers have developed spiritual involvements toward Apple’s brand as well as a sense of sacral participation in Apple’s identity. Finally, a third dimension concerns how Apple’s icon has become “reframed” and subverted by fans and media, often as a way to articulate and make sense of very different events in society. The appropriation of Apple’s iconic power for different and alternative purposes reveals the partial autonomy of the iconic power gained by digital technologies, which can become the surface on which to articulate cultural structures, dualities and oppositions in contemporary society.
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