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Reporting the women's movement: A cross-national comparison of representations of second wave feminism and equal rights issues in the United Kingdom and United States daily press, 1968-1982.

Mendes, Kaitlynn 2009. Reporting the women's movement: A cross-national comparison of representations of second wave feminism and equal rights issues in the United Kingdom and United States daily press, 1968-1982. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

This study examines how the second-wave feminist movement, its members and their goals for equal rights were represented in two UK and two US newspapers (The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Times, and the Daily Mirror) between 1968 and 1982, a period which encompasses the movement's formation, peak and decline in both countries. Through the use of both quantitative content analysis and qualitative critical discourse analysis, this study reveals patterns of coverage, but more importantly, provides insights into how such coverage was constructed. One of my main findings was that, despite socio-political differences, both the US and the UK used a similar range of discourses when addressing both the women's movement and its goals for equal rights. Though the particular details of discourses varied to accommodate culture differences, my analysis indicates the prominence of both capitalist and patriarchal ideologies in the US and the UK, as well as the similarities in counter-discourses used to challenge them. Additionally, though overall, coverage of both topics can best be described as fragmented and contradictory, I argue that there was significantly more "positive" or supportive articles on the women's movement than previous scholars have noted. Such articles engaged with issues, reported the movement in a serious way, and used supportive voices to legitimise the movement. At the same time however, I contend that most of such stories were not as "positive" as it initially appeared. While on the surface they appeared to champion the women's movement, these news stories only rarely addressed the ways in which capitalism and patriarchy oppressed women as a group. Additionally, several such "positive" articles tended to de-legitimise certain aspects of the women's movement, often by "othering" those whom journalists deemed to have failed to adhere to feminine norms. The failure to challenge traditional gender roles helped turn feminism into a dirty word, by disassociating it from its political goals (particularly equal rights, which gained wide-spread acceptance), and de-legitimising the movement as a political collective. These problems are still associated with press reporting of feminism today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
N Fine Arts > NE Print media
ISBN: 9781303196836
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:30
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/54494

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