SOC 131


Agents of Socialization: Gender and the Media

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Each field research project will be evaluated/graded according to the following criteria: 1) data collection (25%), 2) data analysis (25%), 3) use of supplementary materials (25%), and 4) presentation of findings (25%). Your group will be required to fill out a grade sheet (one per group) which explicitly states what you have done for each phase of the project.


What messages are communicated to women through the media? What does it mean to be 'feminine' according to magazines such as Essence, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, or Ms. How is femininity defined similarly and differently in these different magazines? What ethnic and racial differences exist in definitions of beauty? To what degree do women use these images to assess or shape their own beauty or femininity? How many women read each of these magazines on a regular basis? Who owns and produces these magazines? Does this type of media serve as an agent of socialization, or are the magazines purely entertainment?



This project will require detailed content analysis of magazines geared towards women as well as some background research into the magazine readership and demographics. You will need to first, formulate a series of categories which you will use to conceptually explore the select group of magazines you have gathered as data. These categories should be guided by the questions laid out above and by your theoretical orientation. Once you have laid out the categories, you will need to read your data with a meticulous eye to pull out material which speaks to your categorizations. This process is called ‘coding' the data (the data being your magazines). If you are working in a group, you will want to code the data separately, then get back together to discuss how you each coded the data - what are the similarities and differences between yourself and your colleagues? If you are working alone you will need to pass through the data (at least) three separate times to ensure that you are not missing any particularities. What does your coding schema allow you to say about the gender socialization and the media? How can you situate these understandings within the larger framework of our discussion on media as a social institution? You may find your background information on the organization of the magazines in any way that you feel necessary. You may want to search for the information on the Internet, you may look in various business references, you may want to call the magazines main office, ect.



I will give your group a handout of a good textbood chapter which covers the media, gender and socialization. You will also want to do a search in the library to find any relevant sociological studies which focus on the socialization and the media.



You may present your findings in any way that you deem appropriate. You may want to create tables which describe the occurances of certain themes. You may want to display or read snippets from your magazines to illustrate your main ideas. You may want to create a poster display which organizes the images by categories. You may want to engage the class in some sort of activity. It is up to you, or your group, however you will want to come up with some sort of clever way to articulate your findings that maintains the interest of the class. You will have a better idea of how to present your findings once you have completed the data analysis. You should plan to limit your presentation to 20-30 minutes.


You will need to provide me with a progress report in the Week 6 of the course which details what you have accomplished on each phase (Data collection, analysis, supplementary materials, and your presentation) of your field research project.