Magazines for women : a sociological study of their character and function in the period 1800 to the present day.
The purposes of this sociological study are
two-fold: i) to trace the growth of the
periodical press from its tentative beginnings in
the 18th. century to the creation of a vast magazine
empire, and. 2) to examine what is being communicated
to five out of six women every week, and. why.
The women's magazines are capable of exerting
influence in areas which touch the core of family
life, those of home-making, wife-hood. and motherhood.
Thus it is important to clarify the influences
which women are exposed. to, and. their determinants,
with particular reference to the portrayal of an
"approved." feminine image and. an "ideal" feminine
A representative sample of women's magazines
has been examined. at intervals of 25 years in the
19th. century, 10 years from 1900 to the Second World
War, and. 5 years thereafter, and their content has been
analysed to show the range and. depth of subjects
covered, and the level of "home-centredness", both of
which are indicators of women's prescribed. role. At
every period. these aspects have been related to social
and. economic change. The analysis has been
supplemented with approximately sixty interviews with
magazine representatives, and a further twenty-four
have been carried out in. the U.S.A. during a short
period of comparative research on the American women's
The results indicate that, while commercial pressures
impose limitations upon the women's press, the present
character of magazines is also affected by social
attitudes which have resisted. the ongoing tide of
emancipation and largely support the advertiser's
emphasis upon a predominantly domestic role for women.
They suggest, too, that the boom in women's publishing
is waning, and. that the artificially inflated. circulations
of the 'fifties are in process of contracting
to a more realistic level.