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The representation of masculinity and femininity in children’s books: A deconstruction of gender in contemporary best-selling children’s literature.

Le Grange, Georgina (2015) The representation of masculinity and femininity in children’s books: A deconstruction of gender in contemporary best-selling children’s literature. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Previous research regarding gender inequality in children’s literature has focused predominantly on content analysis and paid little attention to the embedded ideological constructs within discourse. The key study by Weitzman et al (1972) discovered that females were displayed as passive, supplementary to men and underrepresented. Therefore, the current research aimed to investigate gender role discourse within best-selling contemporary literature in order to extend the findings in the research area. Potter and Wetherell’s discourse analysis (1987) was used to identify subject positions, ideological dilemmas and interpretive repertoires. The research had a feminist poststructuralist perspective which assisted the identification of power structures within 21st century books. The findings displayed that females were no longer passive as they had equally present roles within the narrative however, female opportunities were limited to domesticity in comparison to males who had endless freedom. Concluding remarks propose that gender inequality is still pressing issue within children’s literature.

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