Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

In 1979, Erving Goffman published Gender Advertisements, the seminal work in critiquing gender displays in advertising. Goffman noted seven major phenomena that demonstrated the cultural infantilization of women and their ritualized subordination in advertisements. This study, conducted in Goffman’s phenomenological tradition, investigates modern commercial advertisements to update Goffman’s work and determine the presence of a new phenomenon, the mechanization of women. Advertisements were collected and studied based on Goffman’s five coding categories: relative size, feminine touch, function ranking, ritualization of subordination, and licensed withdrawal. In addition, Facebook photographs were analyzed based on the same coding categories to find whether women portray themselves in personal yet publically available photographs in the same way as women are displayed by others in advertising images. The results indicate that modern advertisements portray women in much the same manner as in the 1979 advertisements from Goffman’s original study, and evidence can be found that supports a new advertising pattern of the mechanization of women. However, in Facebook photographs, women tend to display themselves with greater individuality than the way they are portrayed in commercial advertisements. These findings have greater implications on the future of gender displays in advertising and women’s self-portrayal, particularly in relation to the creation of a new feminist movement.