As this study is mainly based around research, I should consider very carefully which methodology I will use. As I am looking at gender stereotyping in magazines, the best method of research I can use to gather useful information would be content analysis. I intend to conduct this on young women’s magazines available on the market today. This is a very good and effective method for me personally to use; as being a young woman myself, I have very easy access to these magazines I personally read. Also this method is straightforward and there are no ethical concerns.
Also, this isn’t a very time-consuming method, is quite cheap and there are plenty of resources available. Content analysis can be a quantative method; essentially it is simply a counting exercise asking questions requiring answers through the research such as ‘How many times does something occur and How often’? The purpose of content analysis is to help prove my hypothesis so I can display valid and reliable evidence that women are stereotyped, or that magazines deliver both covert and overt messages to their target audience of young female readers. This overall message being that they have a social duty to look good, (usually for men).
Content analysis will produce an objective record of the frequency of these pre-selected items Sociologists who carry out content analysis within the media may use quantative methods, qualitative methods, or they may combine the two. Tuchman studied how women are portrayed on American television from 1952 to 1974. Using quantative methods of research, she found that men were prominent in all types of programme, women however were very rarely shown in roles of occupation. Using the method of content analysis is appealing to me as it is mot time-consuming, is cheap and seems the most effective way of gathering my research.
Simply counting how many times a ‘stereotypical’ advertisement or article appears in a magazine is not enough. I shall have to look into the meanings of the texts and images, and study the language that is used. However, as I am taking a feminist perspective, I shall also have to be careful how I interoperate data, as different researchers may produce different interpretations of different texts. To avoid this, I will conduct a semi-structured and informal interview on a small group of young women aged between 16 and 25.
This will ensure that I can collect useful information on how young women feel towards the medias portrayal of ‘The Perfect Woman’, and look at how they perceive this image. I am also interested to find out whether these images influence women to look good for themselves or if it is for the pleasure of a man. Using these methodologies, I am combining both Quantative and Qualitative methods to produce the most valid and reliable results, which should hopefully prove my hypothesis. This will allow me to continue further the study of Marjorie Ferguson who conducted a content analysis on popular women’s magazines in the 60’s.
She found that women were mainly portrayed as housewives and mothers. I aim to continue with the study, but being aware of the developments that have taken place in women’s magazines 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.