Friday, October 8, 2021

Rosenberg on Medicine, Advertising and Law in England

It’s gated, but we’re noting anyway the publication of Anat Rosenberg’s Exaggeration: Advertising, Law and Medical Quackery in Britain, c. 1840-1914 in the Journal of Legal History 42 (2021): 202-231:

This article revisits the nineteenth-century debate about medical quackery in Britain, to examine its implications for the history of modern advertising. It makes two related claims. First, the prevalent view of advertising as a field prone to exaggeration, often taken as obvious, has a legal history. The circumstances of the quackery debate led to a legal elaboration and formalization of views of advertising as an epistemologically doubtful but not illegal field. Second, advertising’s status as exaggeration was part of a legally supported cultural division of labour – or legal boundary work, which carved differentiated roles for science and the market in modern Britain whereby science was increasingly defined by restraint, and the market by its lack. The analysis examines the implications, while also offering new insights on the role of law in the history of quackery, and examining untapped sources, particularly a set of libel cases that developed a legal definition of quackery.
–Dan Ernst