The Language of Advertising : A qualitative study of gender representation in print advertisements.

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Sektionen för humaniora (HUM)

Abstract: The purpose of this essay was to investigate and highlight the strengths and shortcomings of Critical Discourse Analysis and Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis when used as an analytical tool. By comparing the representation of women and men in print advertisements, and how there may be a difference in language being used to describe both genders, including the use of sexist language, a critique of CDA and FCDA could be established. In order to establish this all areas of the advertisements had to be taken into account, including layout and images used. The ads were read and interpreted through CDA and FCDA in order to investigate and identify the strengths, and any shortcomings, of the theories. The investigation shows that, although CDA and FCDA scholars could argue that women tended to be described in a more sexist manner overall, a counterargument could also be made on most accounts. The argument which supported sexism was especially observable through how women’s bodies were more often fragmented in images and positioned in more sexual positions, but also how the advertisements not only reinforced stereotypes as well as using distinctly negative language in their descriptions. However, gender stereotyping against men in the ads was also prevalent, which allowed an argument against CDA and FCDA’s theories about existing power struggles. Although the investigation did manage to substantiate the critique regarding how CDA and FCDA view the differences in gender representations, therefore fulfilling its aim, perhaps a more accurate result would have been possible to achieve if more print advertisements had been used in the investigation. However, this was not possible due to the qualitative nature of the investigation.

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