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Transnational technologies of gender and mediated intimacy

Favaro, Laura (2017). Transnational technologies of gender and mediated intimacy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Against widespread prognostications, the Internet has not entailed the demise of commercial women's magazines. Yet print publications are being supplanted by online versions, which are proliferating. These websites offer similar content free of charge and significantly greater opportunities for interaction. This thesis is a feminist qualitative study of contemporary online magazines targeting young women, based in the UK and in Spain. Focusing on twelve publications- six from each country- the research inquires into the different but interrelated dimensions of text, user and production. In particular, it asks questions about changes and challenges brought about by the online environment. Of especial interest are representations of gender, sex, sexuality and intimate relationships. In the context of a resurgence of interest in feminist ideas and engagement, the thesis also examines the ways in which women's magazines relate to- and reconfigure- feminism.

The research adopts a multi-methods approach, and draws on a large body of different data. Comprising the primary data are: a) 270 editorial articles; b) 2.657 peer-to-peer messages posted on the sites' discussion forms; and c) 68 interviews with producers, primarily editors and writers. Additionally informing the study is an assortment of supplementary material, including: magazine public communications, archived print copies, trade press, news reports on the sector, and field notes from events organised by interested parties. Influenced by a social constructionist perspective, the analysis uses thematic, discourse and conjunctural approaches, thereby making connections between the details of text and talk, wider cultural sensibilities, and the socio-historical context at large. It deploys postfeminism as a critical analytical term to capture gendered features of contemporary cultural life, and engages with feminist work aiming to understand the operation of power under neoliberalism.

A number of new concepts are advanced to make sense of the identified landscape of patrioarcho-neoliberal power, including 'postfeminist biologism' and 'confidence chic', and to capture shifts taking place in the industry, such as an all-encompassing 'authenticity turn', together with the interpellation of a new subject online: the 'shareaholic'. The research contributes empirical insights and critical theorisations concerning the contemporary young woman's (online) magazine, and digital journalism and Internet cultures more generally. Furthermore, this thesis offers understandings about cultural discourses and contestations around sex, gender and sexuality, and about the relationship between femininity, feminism, commercial and popular media cultures: capturing both Spain/UK national specifities and transnational patterns.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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