Globalized girlhood : the teachings of femininity in Cosmopolitan and True Love :a case study.
This thesis provides a comparative case study of two South African women's magazines, Cosmopolitan and True Love. The comparison is based on the fact that Cosmopolitan is an international magazine brand which is largely read by white women in this country, while True Love is a local publication produced for, and consumed by, black South African women. The case study makes use of both text and audience analysis. The text analysis begins as a genre study, in an attempt to 'denaturalize' the magazine form, and includes an intertextual analysis of the magazines and their secondary texts, or brand extensions. The magazine genre is considered from a cultural studies perspective and in the light of feminist media criticism. A reception analysis, informed by focus group research, provides the audience analysis component of this case study. Primarily, this thesis is concerned with the reception of women's magazines by teenage girls. It interrogates the assumption that, in the absence of a local 'teen' magazine industry and western rite-of-passage ritual, women's magazines serve as cultural developmental markers and informal educational devices in the passage from girlhood to adulthood. This study adopts a poststructuralist view on the self as socially constructed within discourse. In this view, the media serve as resources for identity construction and negotiation. Gender, a particular discourse organized around the constructs of 'masculinity' and 'femininity', is inscribed in the subject along with other discourses, such as those of race, class and ethnicity. Women's magazines, which provide an example of a 'women's genre', give 'femininity' a material form. Their glossy visual appeal is illustrative of the commodity fetishism associated with advanced capitalism and their continuing success demonstrates how consumption, identity and desire are intimately connected within postmodern consumer culture. Above all, this thesis recognizes that women's magazines are discursive sites-of-struggle which need to be considered from a position which is neither purely condemning nor purely celebratory, but finds instead a balance between 'creativity' and 'constraint'. Both the text-based and audience-centred components of this study draw on strands of discourse analysis. The critical discourse analysis (CDA) of Norman Fairclough informs the thesis as a whole but is applied specifically to the text analysis. The concept of 'interpretive repertoires' proposed by theorists who use discourse analysis in social psychology (DASP) is applied t6 the analysis of focus group material.