Date of Award

12-1992

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Suzanne B. Kurth

Committee Members

Samuel Wallace, Thomas Hood, Susan Becker

Abstract

This content analysis compared gender-alcohol associations presented in alcohol advertisements in Ms. and Sports Illustrated from 1973 to 1988. Analysis focused on (1) changes in gender representations during a period of transitional female roles, (2) relative frequencies of cognitive and emotion-inducing themes appearing in sex specific alcohol advertising, and (3) drinking norms presented by alcohol advertisers during a period characterized by criticism of alcohol marketing.

Portrayals of women did not accurately reflect the actual employment status of women. Images of feminism were superficial portrayals of women imitating men (e.g., whiskey consumption) or presented feminists as decorative objects. From 1973 to 1988, alcohol ads in Ms. and Sports Illustrated increasingly presented gender stereotypes. Women were defined by their relationships with men, whereas men were defined by their accomplishments.

In both magazines, for all sample years (i.e., 1973, 1982, 1988), emotion-inducing themes predominated. Personal satisfaction was the most frequent type of emotion-inducing appeal. Frequencies of other emotion-inducing themes suggested that different images were used to target a female versus a male market (e.g. elegance in Ms. and tradition in Sports Illustrated).

Comparison of normative messages revealed that alcohol ads in Ms. more often presented alcohol as a means of emotion-management, whereas alcohol ads in Sports Illustrated more often associated drinking with hazardous activities. In both magazines, images of heavy drinking were more frequent than images of moderation.

It was concluded that alcohol producers, and their advertisers, experimented with non-conventional gender portrayals only when it was presumed novel and/or profitable to do so. Moreover, representations of drinking (i.e., types of appeals and normative messages) apparently changed only when there were direct threats to the self-regulation of alcohol advertising.

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