World of Science. Series: Sociology, Philology, Cultural Studies
World of Science. Series: Sociology, Philology, Cultural Studies

2023, Vol. 14, No. 2. - go to content...

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Maximova O.B. [Methods for analyzing the symbolic representation of gender in advertising] World of Science. Series: Sociology, Philology, Cultural Studies, 2023, Vol. 14, No. 2. Available at: (in Russian).

Methods for analyzing the symbolic representation of gender in advertising

Maximova Olga Borisovna
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia named after Patrice Lumumba, Moscow, Russia

Abstract. This article deals with the problems of choosing the most appropriate methods of research of gender representations in advertisements and is a part of the author’s dissertation research. The article compares the main principles of feminist and positivist methodology, analyzes the effectiveness of their application in empirical studies of gender representations in advertising. The author analyzes the methodology of gender social research in the framework of feminist approach. Further the author shows that the logic of gender studies development shows the need for a rational combination of interpretative and quantitative methods of analysis. Examples of gender representations studies in television and magazine advertisements in the USA, given by the author, demonstrate the possibility of effective application of quantitative methods of analysis, revealing representations of gender stereotypes existing in society. The author presents the empirical data of quantitative research of female characters representation in US magazine and television advertisements in the 1970–1980s through content analysis, and emphasizes that despite the effectiveness of traditional quantitative and statistical methods of research they do not always give an adequate picture. In this regard, the research by the method of content analysis should be supplemented with qualitative interpretations, and the most popular qualitative methods of gender representations research in modern advertising are the method of semiology and the interpretative method. At the same time, practice shows the problematic nature of further application of qualitative methods as they inevitably bear the personal biases of research participants. At the present stage the analysis of gender representations is carried out within the framework of «visual research», in the paradigm of which two directions coexist: the research of content-semantic aspects of the image and «epistemology of visual communication».

Summing up the review of various techniques of gender representations research in advertising the author comes to the conclusion that the problematic nature of using only quantitative or qualitative methods has led to the fact that at the present time the simultaneous use of various techniques, including the study of gender representations in advertising is gaining popularity, and gives examples of effective multimethod research based on the combination of semiological approach and of content analysis. According to the author, the practice of gender studies demonstrates the possibility of simultaneous or sequential use of both approaches. The choice of an appropriate method depends on the subject of research.

Keywords: gender representations; magazine advertising; content analysis; semiotic method; television advertising; qualitative and quantitative methods; «mean level» method; interpretive method

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