The Appropriation of Feminist Values in Multi-Level-Marketing Distribution Networks

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Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to investigate the communicative and discursive practices used by Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) networks when marketing their network to women as both a business opportunity and as a sisterhood, in order to start and contribute to the conversation regarding the relatively unsupervised communicative practices and their potential effects of MLM distribution networks. By conducting an extensive qualitative analysis on eighteen group call videos posted publicly on YouTube by affiliates of six different MLM networks, this thesis examines the marketing practices used to appropriate feminist values in order to recruit women and sell products. The analysis is done through a theoretical framework of Feminist Media Theory with a focus on feminist values, femvertising, and corporate feminism, in combination with the concept Relational Agency. These theoretical frameworks are used to critically analyze the discursive practices used in the videos. The analysis shows that MLM contractors are utilizing discursive practices such as advertising feminist values to market products and opportunities to potential recruits and downlines. Some of the feminist values communicated are, for example, inclusivity, empowering messages, financial gain, and independency. The findings further suggests that the marketing practices used may have an effect on individuals involved, and on the greater feminist movement at large. 

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