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Shock Advertising Dissertation Ideas For Theology

Introduction

Dissertation writing as a part of the religious studies course are inherently vital to the final result. Since it is the only question that has been set independently, it requires the researcher to select and research a topic that acquires an upper second or a first class degree classification. It is vital to choose a research topic that adds to the current body of literature. As a supervisor, presentation of work, the question analysis itself and the preceding utility of the work are all distinguishing factors towards a degree classification. In order to help you choose an appropriate topic and its subsequent research methodology, below is a list of topics classified using the thematic approach for the religious studies dissertation.

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World Religions Dissertation Topics

Under the category of world religion, the teaching courses cover a range of topics including the traditional aspects and forms of religion found globally including the mainstream practicing religions such as Buddhism or Catholicism and belief systems such as the traditions of the Samurai tribe. Given the highly diverse nature of faith, it is pertinent to explore and analyse this diversity in terms of continuous evolution of the human race. The list of topics below provides a focused thematic approach that may be used for research dissertation purposes.

  1. The notion of Atheism in the modern world. A critical analysis.
  2. The evolution of religious beliefs in India post 20th A critical analysis.
  3. The inherent belief of all religions lies in following the teachings prescribed by a higher authority. Discuss.
  4. An analysis of the contemporary styles of preaching.
  5. An analysis of the Christian tradition in the modern day world.
  6. Freedom of Religion and Human Rights. A debate between cultural relativism and universalism.
  7. An analysis of the Thai origins of the Hinduism and Buddhism.
  8. Religious diversity and terrorism. A global comparative analysis.
  9. A critical analysis of the religious evolution in Sudan: Application and implications.

History and Religion Dissertation Topics

History and religion have been a topic of interest throughout the previous decades, and gained particular importance amongst researchers focusing on the impact and influence of religion on culture throughout history. Through a literature review of the religious references, the researchers have been able to draw out a connection between literature and culture. History and religion is not confined to evolution or impact of a particular religion, but in fact it goes beyond the diversity of religion and focuses on the evolution of human race throughout the time. Below is a list of suggested topics that can be used for the purpose of research dissertations.

  1. Priesthood: History and evolution of Malachi.
  2. Future Oracles: an analysis of Jerimiah’s perspective.
  3. Religious intolerance has been the subject of criticism and praise. Critically analyse.
  4. Islam: The religious foundations and evolution through the 7th century into the modern world.
  5. The premise of faith within a society is based on the ruling political superior. A critical analysis.
  6. The life of Adolf Hitler: impact of Religious doctrine and belief.
  7. The Christianity faith is said to be entrenched within the roots in the Pagan faith. Discuss.
  8. The evolution of religious faith. An analysis of the game players in the diversity of faith and beliefs.

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Religion and the Contemporary World Dissertation Topics

This theme focuses on topics that analyse the effect of religion within the contemporary world including the influence that the media may have and the application of religious beliefs to the modern day world. This is an interesting topic for those aiming to look at theology and religion together since the implications of religion to contemporary world has become the focus of discussion and dichotomy. Below is a list of topics that can be used for research dissertation purposes.

  1. A critical analysis of the Talibans: A study of their aggression within India and Pakistan.
  2. Holy orders and marriage have become to be known as the sacraments of the Christian faith. Discuss.
  3. Ethics and Religion: an application to the modern world.
  4. Using religion to justify the basis of terrorism in Islam. Discuss.
  5. Buddhism has become to be one of the leading faiths in the modern United Kingdom. Critically analyse the impact.
  6. Equality of women and religious restrictions.
  7. The teachings within the Bible from the Old Testament have been said to be out dated and therefore not applicable to the modern lifestyle today. Critically discuss.
  8. Eastern religions, especially Islam have suffered greatly post 9/11 in terms of media representation and fair trial. Discuss.
  9. Where does the notion of terrorism fit into the realm of an omnipotent all-encompassing higher being. Discuss with examples.
  10. Various religions including Christianity and Islam do not recognize the relationship between same sex genders. Discuss in light of recent legalization and the global evolution for equality of all people.

Ethics and Religion Dissertation Topics

The notion of ethics in religion encompasses morality and various components of morality to be applicable to modern life and daily situations. Morality and religion have gone hand in hand throughout the history, and it has been observed that various moral conducts are justified with the notion of religious beliefs. For researchers who wish to get a deeper understanding of this relationship, below are a list of topics that can be used for dissertation purposes.

  1. Religious beliefs and morality are deeply entrenched within each other. Critically discuss.
  2. Discuss the ethical beliefs based in Hinduism with an analysis of their application to moral dilemmas faced in the world today.
  3. Military Action: Ethical justification through religion.
  4. Ethical egoism: Discuss in relation to moral code and logic.
  5. Terrorism and Islamic Fundamentalists: There is no moral code. Discuss.
  6. How is morality entrenched within the teachings of Islam?
  7. Human rights and the ethical dichotomy of religious beliefs.
  8. Situational ethics through religion. Discuss critically the impact of situational ethics in a multi ethnic community.

Religion and Philosophy Dissertation Topics

Religion and philosophy have been going hand in hand throughout history. Philosophy has been used for justification and questioning of the supreme power of God as well as the basic fundamentals of the religious faith. The basic premise of philosophy and its application to religion is based on the notion of trying to ascertain the existence of religion as a possibility. You can find a topic that interests you from the list of sample dissertation topics given below.

  1. Relationship between existence of life and existence of God. Critically discuss with examples.
  2. If there is a God, who was he created by? An in depth analysis of fundamental religious beliefs.
  3. Divinity and Nature: The case of Egyptian beliefs.
  4. Death is inevitable and religion only provides a comfort of cloak in the face of this inevitability. Discuss.
  5. God is known to be an all loving, all-encompassing being. How can the evil in the world be justified in the face of an omnipotent God?
  6. Justifying the existence of a God in the face of continued loss of lives through terrorism.
  7. God is only a fragment of a believer’s imagination. Discuss.

Architecture and Religion: Built Heritage Dissertation Topics

Architecture has played an important role within the religious communities since it provides a tangible component of the belief to the community where they can substantiate their religious faith. In order to understand the true essence of an architectural building within the religious faith, it is important to look beyond the structural aesthetics of the buildings and understand the deeper engraved intangible value of religious faith that drives the community. Below is a list of topics that might be interesting for a religion architecture based dissertation.

  1. Architectural buildings such churches and mosques have great religious significance. Discuss.
  2. What are the components of a Church?
  3. Are religious buildings inherent to an individual’s faith and belief? Discuss.
  4. Without religious buildings to substantiate faith, followers would lose their religion. Discuss.
  5. How far would you agree with the belief that divine presence can only be felt within religious architectural spaces?
  6. Demolishing a building that is fundamental to a religious belief is tantamount to disgracing the divine God. Discuss.
  7. What is the purpose of religious architectural buildings? Discuss with a comparative analysis of different religious faiths.
  8. An expensive religious building does not encompass the basic human right of equality amongst all mankind. Discuss.

Politics and Religion: Dissertation Topics

The study of religion and politics aims to draw an interconnecting relationship between the two facets and to analyse their impact upon each other’s application. Below is a list of topics that may be helpful in aiming to research this particular relationship.

  1. There needs to be clear distinction between political views and religious beliefs. Discuss.
  2. Politics is used as a mask to cover up religious fanaticism. Critically analyse.
  3. Can political decisions be justified on the premise of being religiously objective?
  4. The evolution of religious leaders in the global economy.
  5. Should religious leaders be equipped with some form of political or legal authority, Discuss with examples?
  6. The only reasons politicians bow to religious authority is to gain popularity. Critically analyse.
  7. Discuss the impact of politics within the religious groups in United Kingdom over the past hundred years.
  8. How has the religion Islam succumbed under political pressures? Critically analyse.
  9. The role of extremists, Islamic fundamentalists and politicians in a eastern society.

Founded in 1867 by Dr. Thomas Barnardo to help "abused, vulnerable, forgotten and neglected children," children's charity Barnardo's now helps over 110,000 children every year (Barnardo's, 2009). Although traditionally advertising has been used to "equate products with positive cultural or social experiences" (Klein, 2000, p.29), Barnardo's has abandoned such "positive" practices, alternatively opting for a "disturbing image [to present] the need for support" (Goddard, 1998, p.10) thus making its advertisements a vivid reality (Klein, 2000). As a charity, Barnardo's is subject to closer scrutiny and tighter accountability than many organisations (Brassington & Pettit, 1997, p.1104), specifically relating to how they use advertising to communicate with the public.

Barnardo's "Child poverty campaign" (2003) is largely regarded as the charity's most controversial print advertisement which was banned by The Advertising Standards Authority (Carvel, 2003). Williamson (1978) asserts that advertisements are ubiquitous and unavoidable; therefore it is imperative to examine the theories which dictate the potential interpretations of this advertisement.

The most striking aspect of this advertisement is the appearance of a cockroach crawling out of a baby's mouth. The cockroach is not authentic, but a metaphorical reference to the destitution of many children. Max Black's (1909-1988) interaction theory of metaphor is useful when examining the use of such an image as "the image's signification is assuredly intentional" (Barthes, 1964, p.22), designed to create a "maximally effective impact" on the audience (Forceville, 1996, p.68).

A metaphor, be it linguistic or pictorial, does not divulge itself at merely the word or the isolated image, but at the discourse, thus placing importance on the relevance of the nonverbal context (Forceville, 1996); how the singular image of the insect interacts within the other elements in which is it proposed, specifically the baby and the white background. Ricoeur (1977, p.74-180) explains that "metaphor…is a phenomenon of discourse…language passes outside itself [and] reference is the mark of the self transcendence of language."

The image presents a visual statement whereby elements are identifiable as a primary and secondary subject, the baby and insect respectively. Both are systems rather than things, interacting via an "implicative complex" understood as a totality of properties belonging to the secondary subject which are projected upon the primary subject (Forceville, 1996). Theoretically, the architect of the advertisement has selected characteristics of the insect to induce endoxa (Aristotle, c.350 BCE) in the audience; a set of shared opinions rendering the image of the cockroach synonymous with the concept of squalor in which the baby will develop.

However, as the association is made in the minds of the receiver, the metaphorical statement must be understood in context hence requiring an inquisitive response from a proficient reader (Forceville, 1996). Arguably, the limitations become clear when proficiency is not present on the reader. Kittay (1987) argues that to understand the projection of properties from the secondary subject to the primary only in terms of Aristotle's endoxa is too restrictive, therefore hindering the scope of Black's theory. Henceforth, the theory disregards some associations that may not be articulated by spoken terms (ibid), which are apparent in some readers.

The theory of Semiotics encompasses the concept of metaphor providing an alternative explanation of Barnardo's" advertisement. Two prevailing models of semiology are presented by Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), who offers a dyadic approach and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) who offers a triadic approach to semiology (Chandler, 1994).

Saussure defined a sign as consisting of the signifier (the form of the sign) and the signified (the conceptual representation), thus a sign is recognisable as a combined signifier with a specific signified, both of which are psychological and subjective (Saussure, 1916). The signifier is the cockroach whilst the concept of squalor is the signified. Umberto Eco (1976, p. 9) states that "a signification system is an autonomous semiotic construct that has an [independent] abstract mode." Therefore, the function of the image of the cockroach is to provoke associations of unpleasantness, irrespective of reader interpretation.

However, Peirce argues that without interpretation, signs are non-existent (Peirce, 1931-58), reinforcing the notion that signs do not have an intrinsic value, but rather, meaning is interdependent, reliant on subjective interpretation. Peirce's triadic approach to semiotics involves three inter-related elements; the representamen which is the form which the sign takes, an interpretant: the sense made of the sign and the object to which the sign refers (Chandler, 1994). Specifically, how we understand the relationship between the sign and the object (Atkin, 2006), in this case how the reader interprets the relationship between the depiction of a cockroach in a baby's mouth and conditions of child poverty.

Peirce was also concerned with the perceptual judgement, explaining "percept" as the "total content of immediately present awareness" (Robin, 2006, p. 48). This judgement one makes, based on the presence of a cockroach and a baby in a connective context, "works without the control of rationality." (Andersen & Sørensen, 2009, p. 85). So, rationally one may chose to disassociate cockroaches with dirt, however, the absence of such control means the association is forged in ones psychological sphere pertaining to, at least, an awareness of the notion of what is being represented.

The presence of "awareness" is elaborated on in the uses and gratifications approach whereby the focus lies with what people do with media based on the psychological & social origination of their needs and expectations (McQuail &Windahl, 1993). "Advertising texts are seen as potentially involving complex notions of audience, where readers have to work hard to decode messages" (Goddard, 1998, p. 8) therefore the audience is always active hence media content is always subject to interpretation (Livingstone, 2004). Accordingly, interpretations of what a cockroach in a baby's mouth means in the context of an advertisement will differ; many may perceive it as just a strategy (Hamstig, 2005), used to evoke pathos in those who are emotionally receptive to the campaign, causing them to use the advertisement as a motivation to donate money, in turn gratifying their need for esteem or respect one obtains from others (Maslow, 1943).

Whilst critics and scholars alike will continue to dissert a plurality of perspectives regarding the justifiability of ostentatious, provocative and controversial advertising, examining the theories provides an exposition of the way the elements interact with each other, explaining the potential impact of such advertising on an audience. Sensationalised media coverage may appear to detract from the validity of the charity that risked insulting the public, yet Barnardo's acquired attention, made the audience aware of a commendable cause (Goldstein & Daniels, 2002), irrespective of varied decoding, ensuring future donations that place Barnardo's at the forefront of the struggle to end child poverty in the United Kingdom, suggesting that even contentious means may ultimately be justified by the result (BBC, 2001; Hamstig, 2005 & Cassidy, 2009).


Andersen, C. & Sørensen, B. (2009) How to analyse comprehension in print advertising: Advertising effect from a Peircean perspective. Signs - International Journal of Semiotics. vol. 3, pt. 1, pp. 71 -114.

Aristotle (c.350 BCE) Topics. Translated by Pickard-Cambridge, W. A. (1994) Available from:  http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/topics.html

Atkin, A. (2006) Peirce's Theory of Signs. [Internet] Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy. Available from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce-semiotics/#BasSigStr> [Accessed: 22 November 2009]

Barthes, R. (1961). Rhetoric of the image. In: The responsibility of forms. Translated by Howard, R. (1986). Oxford: Blackwell

BBC (2001) Barnardo's defends shock adverts. [Internet] BBC News. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1385881.stm

Black, M. (1979a), Ortony, A. (ed.) More about metaphor; Metaphor and thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brassington, F. & Pettit, S. (1997) Principles of Marketing. 4th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Carvel, J. (2003) Child poverty adverts banned. [Internet]. The Guardian. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/dec/10/advertising.media2

Cassidy, A. (2009) Barnardo's TV ad shock tactics help public awareness. [Internet]. Campaign. Available from:  http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/888381/Barnardos-TV-ad-shock-tactics-help-public-awareness/

Chandler, D. (1994) Semiotics for Beginners [Internet] Available form: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html

Child poverty campaign (2003) [Online Image] Available at: http://www.Barnardo's.org.uk/2003cockroach.jpg

Eco, U. (1976) Sebeok, T.A. (ed.) Theory of semiotics. Milan: Indiana University Press.

Forceville, C. (1996) Pictorial metaphor in advertising. London: Routeledge.

Goddard, A. (1998) The language of advertising. London: Routeledge.

Goldstein, D. & Daniels, M. (2002) Rimini, M. (ed.) Advertising works: proving the effectiveness of marketing communications; cases from the IPA effectiveness awards. 12. Henley-on-Thames: World Advertising Research Centre

Hamstig, L. (2005) Shock advertising is a successful strategy for non–profit organisations to create awareness. Unpublished BA Thesis. University of the Arts London.

History of Barnardo's (2009) [Internet]. Available from: http://www.Barnardo's.org.uk/barnardo_s_history.pdf

Kittay, E.F. (1987) Metaphor: Its cognitive force and linguistic structure. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Klein, N. (2000) No Logo. London: Flamingo.

Livingstone, S. (2004) The challenge of changing audiences: Or, what is the audience researcher to do in the age of the internet. European Journal of Communication. [Internet] vol. 19, (1), pp. 75-86. Available from: http://ejc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/19/1/75

Maslow, A.H. (1943) A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review. [Internet] Vol. 50, pt. 1, pp. 370-396. Available from: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

McQuail, D. & Windahl, S (1993) Communication models for the study of mass communication. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited

Peirce, C. S. (1931-58) Hartshorne, C., Weiss, P. & Burks, A.W. (Eds.) Collected Writings (8 Vols.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1977). The rule of metaphor: multi-disciplinary studies of the creation of meaning in language. Translated by Czerny, R. et al. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Robin, R.S. (2006) Lewis, Peirce, and the complexity of classical pragmatism. Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society. vol. 42, pt. 1, pp. 45 – 53.

Saussure, F. (1916) Course in General Linguistics. Translated by Harris, R. (1983). London: Duckworth.

Williamson, J. (1978) Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. London: Marion Boyars.

Andersen, C. & Sørensen, B. (2009) How to analyse comprehension in print advertising: Advertising effect from a Peircean perspective. Signs - International Journal of Semiotics. vol. 3, pt. 1, pp. 71 -114.

Aristotle (c.350 BCE) Topics. Translated by Pickard-Cambridge, W. A. (1994) Available from:  http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/topics.html

Atkin, A. (2006) Peirce's Theory of Signs. [Internet] Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy. Available from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce-semiotics/#BasSigStr> [Accessed: 22 November 2009]

Barthes, R. (1961). Rhetoric of the image. In: The responsibility of forms. Translated by Howard, R. (1986). Oxford: Blackwell

BBC (2001) Barnardo's defends shock adverts. [Internet] BBC News. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1385881.stm

Black, M. (1979a), Ortony, A. (ed.) More about metaphor; Metaphor and thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brassington, F. & Pettit, S. (1997) Principles of Marketing. 4th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Carvel, J. (2003) Child poverty adverts banned. [Internet]. The Guardian. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/dec/10/advertising.media2

Cassidy, A. (2009) Barnardo's TV ad shock tactics help public awareness. [Internet]. Campaign. Available from:  http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/888381/Barnardos-TV-ad-shock-tactics-help-public-awareness/

Chandler, D. (1994) Semiotics for Beginners [Internet] Available form: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html

Child poverty campaign (2003) [Online Image] Available at: http://www.Barnardo's.org.uk/2003cockroach.jpg

Eco, U. (1976) Sebeok, T.A. (ed.) Theory of semiotics. Milan: Indiana University Press.

Forceville, C. (1996) Pictorial metaphor in advertising. London: Routeledge.

Goddard, A. (1998) The language of advertising. London: Routeledge.

Goldstein, D. & Daniels, M. (2002) Rimini, M. (ed.) Advertising works: proving the effectiveness of marketing communications; cases from the IPA effectiveness awards. 12. Henley-on-Thames: World Advertising Research Centre

Hamstig, L. (2005) Shock advertising is a successful strategy for non–profit organisations to create awareness. Unpublished BA Thesis. University of the Arts London.

History of Barnardo's (2009) [Internet]. Available from: http://www.Barnardo's.org.uk/barnardo_s_history.pdf

Kittay, E.F. (1987) Metaphor: Its cognitive force and linguistic structure. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Klein, N. (2000) No Logo. London: Flamingo.

Livingstone, S. (2004) The challenge of changing audiences: Or, what is the audience researcher to do in the age of the internet. European Journal of Communication. [Internet] vol. 19, (1), pp. 75-86. Available from: http://ejc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/19/1/75

Maslow, A.H. (1943) A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review. [Internet] Vol. 50, pt. 1, pp. 370-396. Available from: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

McQuail, D. & Windahl, S (1993) Communication models for the study of mass communication. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited

Peirce, C. S. (1931-58) Hartshorne, C., Weiss, P. & Burks, A.W. (Eds.) Collected Writings (8 Vols.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1977). The rule of metaphor: multi-disciplinary studies of the creation of meaning in language. Translated by Czerny, R. et al. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Robin, R.S. (2006) Lewis, Peirce, and the complexity of classical pragmatism. Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society. vol. 42, pt. 1, pp. 45 – 53.

Saussure, F. (1916) Course in General Linguistics. Translated by Harris, R. (1983). London: Duckworth.

Williamson, J. (1978) Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. London: Marion Boyars.

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APA 6th

Noel, C. P. (2010). "Shock Advertising: Theories, Risks, and Outcomes Analyzed Using the Case of Barnardo's." Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse, 2(10). Retrieved from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=305

MLA

Noel, Catrise P. "Shock Advertising: Theories, Risks, and Outcomes Analyzed Using the Case of Barnardo's." Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse 2.10 (2010). <http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=305>

Chicago 16th

Noel, Catrise P. 2010. Shock Advertising: Theories, Risks, and Outcomes Analyzed Using the Case of Barnardo's. Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse 2 (10), http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=305

Harvard

NOEL, C. P. 2010. Shock Advertising: Theories, Risks, and Outcomes Analyzed Using the Case of Barnardo's. Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse [Online], 2. Available: http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=305

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