The way in which readers conceptualize themselves socially through their active imagination rather than something that is pre-existing (Beegan 1). The term is described by Gerry Beegan in The Mass Image: A Social History of Photomechanical Reproduction in Victorian London, and it is attributed to Patrick Joyce who terms the phenomenon as “imagined collectivity.”
Imagined collectivity allow for readers to identify with a certain type of shared experience that both defines and constructs an identity. To create a certain social conception of one’s self through one’s choices in literature and magazine brings together the concepts of consumption and social identity in that reader-consumers of a magazine could imagine themselves to belong to a certain group according to class, style, artistic merit, age, progressiveness, or more.
Through its properties of social construction, imagined collectivity can be seen to engage actively with the concept of branding (“the promotion of consumer awareness of a particular brand of goods or services”) where the creation of a magazine’s identity is similarly descriptive and prescriptive of its audience goals as a reader’s imagined social construct which both creates and responds to certain elements of a publication that appeal to the reader.
Beegan, Gerry. “Introduction: Mass Reproduction and the Mass Audience,” The Mass Image: A Social History of Photomechanical Reproduction in Victorian London (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008): 1-28. Print.
“branding, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2015. Web. 25 October 2015.