Critical Analysis of Women’s Representation in Tv Advertisements from a Cultural Studies Perspective

Topics: Gender role, Television advertisement, Gender Pages: 17 (4604 words) Published: May 2, 2012
International Journal of Women‟s Research (2011) 1: 107- 122

Critical Analysis of Women’s Representation in TV Advertisements from a Cultural Studies Perspective Ali HajiMohammadi1

Abstract Through the interpretation of texts, and subsequent creation of social reality, mediated representations are often seen to be presented within the certain of ideological discourses that reflect the existing power structures. The main objective of this paper is to analyze television commercials with an emphasis on gender roles to decode the main elements of a dominant discourse (preferred readings) and representation mechanisms; and the elements' relationships with ideology, hegemony and power relations in reproducing a dominant discourse. Grounded in an interdisciplinary theoretical framework of cultural studies and critical studies perspectives, the two-layer analysis is used in this paper – a semiotic and critical discourse analysis of television commercials with an emphasize on gender roles and ideology. The results demonstrate that the TV advertisements selected in this paper represent dominant gender relations and reproduce traditional values. Furthermore, these representations illustrate a contradiction between society and media in gender roles. Keywords TV advertisements. Representation of women. Gender roles. Critical

discourse analysis. Ideology.


Ali Hajimohammadi

PhD Candidate, Cultural and Media Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, PO Box 773/14395, Jalal Al e Ahmad AVE, Tehran, Iran. e-mail:

Published Online: 15 January 2011


Introduction The research is placed within the cultural studies perspective that assumes an intertwined relationship between the production and reproduction of symbolic meanings and actualized meanings. From a cultural studies perspective, the study of women's representation in mainstream television advertisements with emphasize on gender roles is embraced. Media has an important role in representation of different groups in a society, but television, as the most popular medium, plays a significant role in representing and shaping attitudes. Advertising, as one of the television genres, is a prominent discourse type in virtually all contemporary societies (Cook, 2005). In addition to information regarding services and products, it constructs a secondary discourse about society and power relations. Gender relations are one of the secondary discourses that advertisements construct. The image of woman and man in media, particularly in television, is essential for the understanding of social practices, social interactions and ideology. Therefore, advertising has an important role in the representation of gender in a society. Advertising, as a powerful force, often reflects and enhances the social ideologies that it selectively endorses. At the same time, advertising is a cultural environment challenged by ideological discourses in the society and is constantly evolving in response to the shifting power relations between social groups. In addition, advertising considered as a cultural form and discourse is a site in which different subjectivities struggle to impose or challenge, to confirm, negotiate or displace definitions and identities” (Gledhill, 1988, p. 72). On the other hand, representations are directly associated with collective meanings, power relations, status hierarchies, resistance, alliances or conflicts that may exist in the public sphere. Thus, it is a common belief among scholars that the representation of gender relations actually reflects the social, cultural, political and economic values of the society (Dines & Humez, 1994; Gauntlett, 2002). Recent studies in relevant literature have illustrated that the present systems of mass communication express to a considerable extent gender representations of the dominant Published Online: 15 January 2011


patriarchal ideology (Brunsdon, 2000; Shattuc,...
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