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An analysis of jewellery advertising through the lens of feminist theory
Swigelaar, Neeka Keisha
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The purpose of the study is to examine to what extent mainstream commercial jewellery advertisements construct the perception of gender within their representations. The study focuses specifically on the representation of women and femininity within jewellery advertisements. The way in which these advertisements construct ‘what it is to be a woman’ is studied through the lens of feminist social constructionist theory. In particular, the study focuses on jewellery advertisements of De Beers and Tiffany & Co. The research question the study aims to answer is, firstly: in what manner, as compared to both third- and fourth-wave feminist theories and recent social movements in women’s rights, do mainstream commercial jewellery advertisements reinstate societal gender role expectations, in particular that of the female body and femininity; and subsequently: how contemporary mainstream commercial jewellery advertisements intersect with feminist theories of power, ownership and sexuality and how mainstream commercial jewellery advertising has adopted ‘commodity feminism’ to start presenting femininity as ‘owning/doing’ a sexual body and gaining empowerment from that sexual power. In short the study aims to investigate how mainstream commercial advertising, in particular jewellery advertising, supports or subverts the construction of gender expectations and roles. The advertisements of Tiffany & Co. and De Beers are compared to other ads that reflect third- and fourth-wave feminist thinking, to investigate the possibility of interesting alternative representations of femininity and female bodies. This study makes use of a qualitative research approach, that of critical theory, and in particular feminist theory and textual analysis. The method of research that is employed is that of Semiotic Analysis. The methods of visual/sign analysis and linguistic analysis is used to probe jewellery advertisements. Thus the pictures (setting, framing, pose, composition) as well as the words are analyzed in relation to gender representation.