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The role of magazine content in the creation of young women’s identities in South Africa
Govender, Jerusha Althea
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This dissertation is a qualitative analysis of the print media in South Africa. The print media as a form of mass communication, functions in various ways. One of the main functions is to supply news, information and entertainment through magazine content on worldwide aspects. Through various attention grabbing tactics magazine content is able to alter our ideology and thinking. However, through attractive and entertaining topics the public can be affected negatively by the content utilised in magazines, which affects the ideologies and thinking of readers. This effect is mainly evident in younger women and can in turn result in readers unwarily turning to the media to shape their identities. This study examines numerous South African women’s magazines with the main objective of determining the role of magazine content in the creation of young women’s identities in South Africa. These magazines were selected on the basis of their content, structure, target markets and their editor’s willingness to participate in the study. The ten magazines researched for the study are ‘O Magazine’, ‘Marie Claire’, ‘Cosmopolitan’, ‘True Love’, ‘Move’, ‘Glamour’, ‘Grazia’, ‘Fairlady’, ‘Seventeen’ and ‘You’ magazine. The study provides a literature review on various normative theories of the press and also discusses the psychological effects of numerous persuasion theories. Some of these theories are the Feminist Media theory, Identity theory, Agenda Setting theory and the Uses and Gratifications theory. The study also analyses selected magazine covers with the aim of determining the ways in which readers are influenced by magazine content. The methodology for the study used content analysis and surveys in the form of telephonic interviews and questionnaires which were conducted with the magazine editors. The main results of the study indicated that magazine content is primarily aimed at uplifting women and creating awareness within readers to embrace their personalities and attributes. Consequently readers are encouraged not to conform to the current trends in society thereby supporting the theoretical underpinning of the normative theories of the press.