Representation of women in advertisements in Arabic and English magazines: a multimodal critical discourse approach

Altuwaijri, Nada (2020) Representation of women in advertisements in Arabic and English magazines: a multimodal critical discourse approach. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis is concerned with investigating the representations of ideal femininity in cosmetics’ advertising discourse in two versions of ELLE print magazine, ELLE ARABIA and ELLE UK. It also aims at examining the linguistic and semiotic persuasive strategies advertisers employ to construct such ideals. Moreover, it investigates the readers’ perspectives and perceptions of cosmetics advertisements. Thus, a triangulated method is applied to the data: Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA), Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and focus groups. MCDA and CDA are applied to the dataset of advertising discourse to cross-culturally examine the ideal feminine figure and female identities presented in the data, while focus groups are conducted to elicit readers’ perceptions of the adverts’ content.

The adverts’ analysis has revealed that there are seven contradictory gendered identities represented to women as ideals which are: the active, the relaxed, the dependent, the friendly, the childish, the rebel and the mysterious. The ideal feminine figure depicted for Saudi and British readers is almost identical: a white, young and natural looking woman who achieves her feminine look through the application of cosmetic products. The discourse analysis and the focus group discussions have proved that there is a gap between the ideals depicted in the adverts and the views and perceptions of real women in both groups, but it was greater in the Saudi group where the ideal was a Western woman. Hence, advertisers present an ideal that does not reflect the women who read the magazines or their society. They are rather promoting a pseudo-culture with new definitions of feminine beauty and ideal female identities. Comparative analysis of linguistic and semiotic strategies found in ELLE ARABIA and ELLE UK have revealed that both versions constitutes of a variety of strategies, however, the British version included more of the persuasive strategies than the Arabic version. Advertising discourse affects the power relations in society, and that is clear through the analysis where adverts encourage women to believe that make up is a necessity to be acceptable in society. Consequently, adverts create a link between consumerism and the construction of identity through lifestyles leading to a globalised culture based on consumption.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mullany, Louise
Jones, Lucy
Keywords: Critical Discourse Analysis, Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis, Advertisements
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 60792
Depositing User: Altuwaijri, Nada
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2020 08:45
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2022 14:14

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