2008 | 4 | 2 | 311-332
Article title

Symbolic Annihilation or Alternative Femininity? The (Linguistic) Portrayal of Women in Selected Polish Advertisements

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The year 1989 marks the beginning of sweeping political, economic and social changes in Poland. Since that time an expansion of women into top professional positions can be observed. Data from the last national census (2002) clearly indicate that women in Poland are better educated than their male counterparts, increasingly careeroriented as well as aggressively pursuing managerial occupations. A modern woman is, by popular belief, no longer obliged to conform to the so-called dominant (Coates 1997) or emphasized (Connell 1987) [i.e. hegemonic] form of femininity. There appears to be greater social latitude for her professional development. The paper explores whether print advertisements (playing a crucial role in the construction of social identities) of certain products incorporate new powerful discourse of femininity. The three advertised products and services (cars, telephones, and banking) selected for the analysis have been commonly associated in Poland with the dominant form of masculinity. Consequently, it is interesting to examine whether women function there, and if so, how. The analyzed advertisements have been collected over the period of one year from three magazines addressed to the emerging Polish middle class. Drawing on Goffman's concepts of function ranking and ritualization of subordination as well as Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), I will attempt to determine whether the selected print advertisements reflect the new femininity in Poland.
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