Sex Roles

, 37:979 | Cite as

The portrayal of women’s images in magazine advertisements: Goffman’s gender analysis revisited

  • Mee-Eun Kang


The research objective of this paper was to study the specific behaviors mentioned above and determine what gender behavior patterns have been most prevalent in magazine advertisements in 1979 and 1991. In this research, comparisons were made regarding gender displays between the years of 1979 and 1991 with random samples of print advertisements. The basic and essential starting question of this research project is: What messages about women have been given to society through magazine advertisements? This study was intended to be a conceptual replication of Erving Gofian’s study of Gender Advertisements to see how gender images in print advertisements have changed since Goffman’s study. For this research, advertisements were analyzed the gender behavior portrayed, utilizing Goffman’s categories of decoding behavior: relative size, feminine touch, function ranking, ritualization of subordination, and licensed withdrawal. Body display and IndependencelSelf-assertiveness categories were added. Advertisements that featured human subjects were collected from 1979 and 1991 women’s popular magazines. The random sampling procedure resulted in 252 samples in 1979 magazine advertisements and 252 samples in 1991 counterparts. This research showed that few changes have been made in the images of women in magazine advertisements since Goffman’s 1979 study. The findings indicate that the images of women in 1991 advertisements did not significantly change from the images found in 1979 advertisements. However; distribution or dispersion of stereotypical portrayal of women did change. In the categories of licensed withdrawal and body display, the magazine advertisements from 1991 showed more stereotyping of women than those from 1979. Two of Goffman’s categories-Relative Size and Function Ranking-were not prevalent depictions in magazine advertisements.


Function Ranking Gender Behavior Print Advertisement Magazine Advertisement Height Relationship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mee-Eun Kang
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Michigan, Department of Communication, 2020 Frieze BuildingUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

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