How far do the messages within Women’s Own reflect social and cultural constructions of femininity in 1950’s Britain?

Adams, Collette Sara (2016) How far do the messages within Women’s Own reflect social and cultural constructions of femininity in 1950’s Britain? BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation examines the constructions of feminine identity in Woman’s Own within the wider social and cultural context of 1950’s Britain. Through focusing on young women in the late Fifties, this dissertation fits into the more recent historiographical debate about young women. Agreeing with older debates about the importance of relationships and highlighting the role of employment within constructions of female identity. Women’s magazines were popular in the 1950’s and provided an idealistic aspiration and interpretation of dominant social expectations. This dissertation will focus on a variety of different content in Women’s Own including letters, stories, articles and quizzes about relationships and careers. The wider social and cultural framework of women’s position within society will also be explored within the context of affluence and increased prosperity for a large part of the British population.
    The dominance of relationships in comparison to careers was constructed as a young woman’s main aspiration and desire, with the majority of the editorial content in Women’s Own reflecting and reinforcing this ideal. However, job opportunities were widening, with careers becoming a respected part of young women’s lives before marriage, therefore, are not completely disregarded in society and women’s magazines. Employment was represented as a temporary arrangement within gender defined roles, which were low paid and low skilled, and consequently, did not disrupt the central notion of marriage within Woman’s Own. Love and courtship was created as an idealised expectation vital within the construction of femininity and self-identification, which both strengthened and mirrored a desirable ‘perfection.’ This dissertation will argue that relationships were the most important construction within feminine identity in the 1950’s, although careers were considered a temporary aspiration within young women’s lives, and the messages within Women’s Own both imposed and mirrored this ideal.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 08:41
    Last Modified: 16 Jun 2016 08:41

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