Nathan Katz

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rodgers, Diane M., 1959-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Sociology; Political action committees--United States; Symbolic interactionism; Advertising; Political; Sociology


Super Political Action Committees (PACs) are relatively new organizations within American politics that allow individuals to donate unlimited funds to campaign causes. This was particularly noticeable during the 2012 Republican primary, which was one of the most well-funded primaries in American history. One of the ways both candidates and Super PACs spend their money is for the production of campaign ads to develop candidate images. These advertisements contribute to a political impression management that develops candidate performances. I have used the Symbolic Interactionist perspective for this study because the theory states that the images or presentations of individuals are continuously being constructed, reconstructed, and therefore dynamic. One place this can be observed is within the world of televised political ads, where the core political images are regularly changing depending on who is responsible for airing the advertisements as well as when and where the advertisement is aired. By performing an ethnographic content analysis focusing on television advertisements from both candidates and Super PACs, a typology of candidate performances was developed: the true conservative, the working conservative, the saint, the sinner, and the traitor. Through a typology of advertisement performances, future political advertisements, particularly television advertisements, can be further understood by showing how particular types of advertisements contribute to different aspects of a candidate's impression management. My study expands upon the literature concerning political impression management by including advertising in the era of Super PAC political campaign finance.


Advisors: Diane Rodgers.||Committee members: Abu Bah; Matthew Streb.


111 pages




Northern Illinois University

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