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Messages to women and men on love and marriage: An analysis of change over time in nonfiction articles from gender-oriented magazines

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posted on 2023-09-06, 02:53 authored by Susan Helene Alexander

This research examines messages about love and marriage being communicated to American women and men through the medium of nonfiction articles in popular magazines. Specifically it compares the messages concerning love and marriage directed to men in male-oriented magazines and those directed to women in female-oriented magazines to ascertain if the advice given to women is different from that given to men and if such messages have changed over time. To achieve these ends, a content analysis consisting of quantitative and qualitative techniques has been conducted. By combining these two techniques, a quantitative foundation was produced for a more in-depth qualitative analysis, thereby achieving both precision and insight. The sampled magazines, Ladies' Home Journal, Mademoiselle, Esquire, and Playboy, were analyzed for the period 1966-1988. It was discovered that the messages disseminated by female-oriented magazines vary little from those printed in male-oriented magazines. What diversity there is in the messages concerning love and marriage has to do more with the large quantity and the self-help nature of the messages appearing in the women's magazines in contrast to the paucity of such communications in male-oriented magazines. Both men and women are portrayed as happy in traditional gender roles. According to the magazine messages, love, marriage, and children are the primary means by which women find fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness, while men are predominately interested in power, money, business, and sexual success. These messages have remained fairly constant during the period studied. It is concluded that the messages present a more conservative view of appropriate behavior and values than what is actually exhibited by society in general, as the data fail to acknowledge the dramatic changes which have occurred in American family patterns. This finding reiterates the premise that what is printed in popular magazines is not always reality but only an idea of what the media think is appropriate behavior.







Ph.D. American University 1989.


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