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Title: Issues of harm and offence : the regulation of gender and sexuality portrayals in British television advertisiting
Author: Quigley Berg, Joelin
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis has two broad aims: 1) to explore the history and regulatory structure surrounding television advertising, particularly in relation to issues of ‘harm and offence’; and 2) to examine the regulatory discourses featured in adjudications responding to complaints of (alleged) offensive and/or harmful gender and sexuality portrayals in television advertising. Advertising has been a primary focus for a feminist criticism since, at least, the 1970s, arguing that it features and promotes sexist portrayals of women. However, little academic attention has been paid to the regulation of sexism in advertising, despite its long history. My work seeks to address the lack of research in this area. Using archival research I explore the historical trajectory of regulatory approaches to issues of harm and offence in British television advertising since the establishment of commercial television to present day. I argue that these have, historically, taken a paternalistic, moral stance, whilst issues of sexism have been largely overlooked or misinterpreted as issues of sexual morality. Moreover, through a discourse analysis of adjudications featuring complaints concerning gender and sexuality portrayals – published between 1990 and 2012 – I examine the regulatory discourses constructed in response to public claims of sexist advertising. Here, I make two separate, albeit interlinked, arguments. Firstly, that the regulatory discourse on the sexualisation of women in advertising lacks critical engagement with the meaning of sexual speech, particularly concerning issues of gender. Secondly, I explore, drawing on speech act theory, how regulatory discourse contribute to an ‘undoing’ of sexism, emphasizing a postfeminist reading of sexism as an ironic ‘fantasy’ of a distant past. In this way, I argue that sexist speech comes to be understood as a ‘failed performative’, no longer enacting that which it speaks in the wake of feminist success.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; PN1990 Broadcasting