Femininity and masculinity for sale: Consumerism and gender ideology
Each of the following exercises will ask you to conduct an analysis of some aspect of a magazine to examine how femininity or masculinity and consumerism are linked. With your group, choose a magazine to examine and one of the exercises to conduct the analysis. All references to chapters and pages below are found in Talbot.
In your analysis you should come to some conclusions--what conclusions about consumerism and femininity/masculinity can you draw from your study? Tell a) what kind of femininity or masculinity is being constructed, b) how is it being constructed discursively, and c) why is this particular femininity or masculinity being created? What's the ideological or social purpose of this discursive practice? In other words, what does it all mean???
1. Narratives: Using Caldas-Coulthard's example (pp. 187-190), apply Labov's model of story structure to analyze one narrative presented in the magazine. See Chapter 4 for a discussion of Labov's narrative framework.
2. Creating readers' identities: Identify and describe the discourses and genres (p. 191, first full paragraph) of the magazine. What subject positions do these genres and discourses set up for the reader? In other words, what kind of woman or man do they create the reader as, what kind of femininity or masculinity to they put on the reader? Are there contradictions among the voices? What are they?
3. Multiple voices: Choose one genre in the magazine to analyze: headlines; an article on home, health, beauty, fashion; advice column, interview, but NOT ads. Look for the voices "talking" in this particular writing. What voices embedded in the text of this genre? Whose voices do we hear (friends, experts, a group?) Who are the characters? What attitudes, values, and perspectives are reflected in these voices? Do the various voices interact? How? (pp. 195-204, especially p. 197, first full paragraph and p. 199 "grammatical choices").
4. Classification schemes: Choose one particular genre to study--headlines; an article on home, health, beauty, fashion; advice column, interview, but NOT ads. Examine the vocabulary and topics of this genre. What frames of knowledge or mental representations do they establish? In other words, how is femininity or masculinity classified? What other categories are a part of this classification? What world view is set up by these categories? (See pp. 198-199)
5. Ways of knowing: Choose one genre to study--headlines; an article on home, health, beauty, fashion; advice column, interview, but NOT ads. What common knowledge is supposedly shared by readers and the magazine? What is presupposed? In other words, what assumptions do the writers make about what readers know, about what is "true"? In addition to presuppositions, look for use of the inclusive 'we'. (See p. 203, first full paragraph).