Pricing the Eyes of Passersby: The Commodification of Audience Attention in U.S. Public Spaces, 1890-1920

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Review of Radical Political Economics

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

This paper explains the growth of the U.S. advertising industry around 1900 by showing how advertisers and advertising professionals established institutions and practices that converted audience attention into a form of tradable property. My empirical work on billposting illuminates the central role that the pursuit of monopoly played in constructing a commodity form of access to pedestrians’ gazes.