Understanding Feminist Backlash Through a Fashionable Framework: A Content Analysis of Vogue Magazine
M.A. Thesis – University of Ottawa, M.A. Communication – Shortlisted for the Humanities Prize
Drawing from feminist, post-modern and performative theory my thesis set out to determine whether fashion was empowering or constraining for women in a period of US political backlash (1985-89).
Incorporating anthropological, historical, philosophical and sociological approaches, I assessed the application of fashion in Vogue Magazine through a macroscopic content analysis using a systematic random sample methodology.
Data was assessed according to twenty-three quantitative variables. A qualitative analysis determined the presence of subculture style, menswear fashion influences, functional fashion, work-suitability, and the relation of clothing in reference to the body. These conceptual variables answered the research question through tangible forms and demonstrated, in conjunction with theory, how fashion works as language to empower women.
My findings indicated that in addition to providing women with means of subverting social constructions of gender, fashion and Vogue were catalysts for cultural change and worked to neutralize the constraining movement that backlash politics imposed on the visibility of women.