To what extent do the media effects an individual's self-identity?
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Context I have decided to look at to what extent the media affects an individuals self-identity. I am directly concerned with how the media affects young women within today's society, particularly through the use of gender stereotyping within young women's magazines, mainly through articles and advertisements. Here, the ideas and beliefs already created by the media are useful to advertisers because they are socially accepted ideologies. They know that they will influence women. It has been stated in the past that it is these media interpretations of 'The Perfect Woman' that have been the cause for so many women becoming increasingly pressured into looking good and so dieting, keeping fit etc. This can, in extreme cases lead to serious psychological diseases such as anorexia and bulimia, where one of the main causes has been identified as social pressure. I am going to study this as, being a young woman in modern society myself, I have a very personal interest in this topic. Through conducting this research, I aim to prove my hypothesis that 'women are stereotyped in the advertising media, mainly through the use of supermodels and celebrities and made to feel they have a social duty to look good' (for men). In order to go about proving my hypothesis, I am going to conduct a content analysis on women's magazines available on the current market. Here I expect to find that there are lots of articles and advertisements that send out both covert and overt messages to their (female) readers. I expect to find that these messages will be mostly sent out by presentation and also language. I am also going to conduct short, informal interviews on a small selection of young women to see how influenced they feel by media pressure. I am going to conduct this study from a feminist perspective, as most of the work previously done on this subject has been carried out by feminist sociologists, who have been very critical of the representations of women in the media.
over the years, I will look at how women are made to feel they should look a certain socially accepted way in order to please the opposite sex. Content It is here where I will display what my study found. My hypothesis was that 'women are stereotyped in the advertising media and made to feel they have a social duty to look good'. I kept this in mind throughout my study, constantly referring back to it and interpreting and analyzing my results accordingly. As my hypothesis is quite specific, I chose magazines that seem to be popular with young women aged between 16 and 25. Ideally, I would have liked to have looked at selling figures of certain magazines to determine the most popular, but lack of time disallowed this. Instead, I chose magazines popular between my peers and myself. The magazines I decided upon were: * *Bliss * *More! * *Cosmopolitan and * *Company I tried to divide the magazines into age groups. For example, Bliss is generally for between 14-16 year olds, More! is probably 17-20 year olds and both Cosmopolitan and Company are magazines generally for the over 20's. so I had a varied age range that still fell under the category of 'young women'. My hypothesis states that it is magazines that make young women feel pressured into looking 'perfect', usually for men, so I specifically chose fashion and beauty magazines as well as general teenage girl's magazines because I wanted to find out the reasons why women feel they have to look good, as since Ferguson conducted her study, it has become socially accepted that women do enjoy taking an interest in fashion and beauty. However, it is my opinion that women only want to look good because of the influence of supermodels and celebrities portrayed in the media. Not because they want to look good for themselves. The initial selling point of a magazine is usually the cover, as this is what is displayed on the shelves.
I made these categories in order to keep to what exactly I was looking for in my content analysis and they were successful in keeping the research in order. I think my results could have been displayed further by using pie charts and bar graphs etc. I could have also recorded (overtly, to avoid any ethical dilemmas) the interviews and transcribed them rather than simply taking notes, as my interview could then be more reliable. The conclusions reached clearly relate to the hypothesis and prove it to be correct, that 'women are still being stereotyped in the media though the use of celebrities and supermodels in magazines making women feel they have a social duty to look good (usually for men).' My study's advantages are that it is reliable and replicable. It effectively follows up Marjorie Ferguson's research indicating clearly that there have been some developments of which I have analyzed. Disadvantages are that the results from interviews may not be fully representative. Overall however, the conclusion is that this study was successful, which showed quite clearly that women are still made to feel under a certain amount of pressure from society reinforced by magazines showing supermodels and celebrities as the 'Perfect Woman'. However, if I were to conduct this study again, I would use a wider range of magazines, for example I could look at older age groups to see if it is just young women's magazines that reinforce the idea of looking 'perfect' (for men), or if indeed older generations eg) Over 25's 30's etc are also influenced. I could look at older generated magazines such as "Woman", "Woman's Own" etc. I could also look at men's magazines such as "FHM" to see how women are stereotyped there. Or consequently, I could conduct the same study, but look to see how males are perceived in magazines to find out if there is 'a typical male', and if men also feel they have a social stereotype they feel they must look like. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kerry Robson 13MH
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