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Title: Representations of ageing in a selection of women's magazines : a textual and semiotic analysis
Author: Soden, Shakuntala Rudra
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 3867
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines representations of ageing in women‟s magazines. Although ageing is an inevitable part of the human condition, this thesis takes the position that ageing is culturally constructed and that women‟s magazines are a key site in such constructions. It is noticeable that, within the Academy generally, there has been less work into the social construction of the ageing process than there has been into other relations of „difference‟ such as gender or race. That said, in the last two decades, work in this area has started to emerge. Factors which account for this include the influence of the baby boomer generation, a sizeable age cohort, born between 1945-1964 who are now growing older themselves. The thesis presents a textual and semiotic analysis of the way in which getting older is constituted through written, visual and spoken texts. The primary data in the research consists of articles from women‟s magazines, analysed using a range of semiotic and linguistic tools, most notably the theories of Roland Barthes, particularly his concept of „Myth‟. Metonymy and the function of stereotyping are also key theoretical concepts. In addition, I analyse data from transcriptions of informal interviews with women magazine readers drawing on the same theoretical concepts. In this way, I am able to examine how magazine texts are received by their readership and, moreover, how women position themselves in relation to what they are reading. The analysis is underpinned by three Myths of Ageing: firstly, that ageing is a decline scenario: it involves both mental and physical decline; secondly, that ageing is synonymous with loss of power: sexual, economic and social; and lastly that ageing must be resisted. I show how the „new positive‟ images of growing older that are being drawn out and portrayed in media representations are not necessarily positive in terms of the impact they have on contemporary women. These images are presented as „new‟, but I shall demonstrate that they are, in fact, a re-working of the underlying Myths of Ageing, myths which construct ageing as a culturally very negative experience, particularly for women in this historical moment.
Supervisor: Mooney, Annabelle Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: ageing ; women's magazines