Looking for Prince Charming: A Diachronic Discourse Analysis of Love and Relationships in Flemish Women’s Magazines

Martina Temmerman, Maaike Van De Voorde, Roel Coesemans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The general interest in printed magazines is declining, but women’s magazines seem to resist this tendency better than their general news counterparts. Their relevance cannot be underestimated since they contribute to the wider cultural processes which define the position of women in a given society at a given point of time. Furthermore, they help to create both the woman’s self-image and that which society has of her. The popularity of these magazines, together with their great impact, warrants an academic interest into the way they have (not) responded to or contributed to contemporary ideas about womanhood and gender, and more in particular, the issue of women’s roles in their (partner)
relationships.The present paper is part of a larger, historical study of the Flemish women’s magazines Het Rijk der Vrouw, Libelle and Flair (1953-2013), in which we want to gain insight into the way these magazines articulate and represent women’s roles in partner relationships. This paper presents the results of the first part of the study, namely the linguistic discourse analysis, in which we analysed the textual representation of women, men and their mutual relationships. The research focus is diachronic: we started by
analysing the magazines of 1953 and then continued up to 2013. Inspired by the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough 1999; Van Dijk 1993; Wodak and Meyer 2001; Wodak and Chilton 2005; Machin and Mayr 2012), we have conducted a lexical analysis of the naming practices used to refer to women and men, and consequently, their mutual relationships. The key findings suggest that women’s relationships with men, although different, are still integral to the ethos of these magazines. As could be expected, the
focus on marriage has declined. At the same time, the number of roles that men can take on in women’s lives has increased, and, most notably, the presence of a loving man in women’s lives is still a central theme.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)98-114
JournalCritical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines
Volume10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • discourse analysis
  • women's magazines
  • lexical analysis
  • naming practices

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