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An exploration of the personal identities of differing socially positioned women in the discourse of personal advertisements

Adams, Hayley (2010) An exploration of the personal identities of differing socially positioned women in the discourse of personal advertisements. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore how women of differing social positions construe personal identity in personal advertisements. The study explored numerous theories of identity, whilst paying particular attention to Darwin’s sexual selection theory. Personal advertisements were used to highlight identity because they ‘offer a rich approach to understanding the processes by which individuals construct their self identities within the dating context’ (Winn & Rubin, 2001, p.394). The ‘women seeking men’ personal advertisements from a broadsheet UK newspaper and the ‘women seeking men’ personal advertisements from a red top UK newspaper were obtained for the purposes of analysis. Discourse analysis was used to analyse the advertisements and compare the discourses operating within them. Discourse analysis is concerned with the ways in which language constructs objects, subjects and experiences, including a sense of self (Willig, 1999). Guidelines as set out by Fairclough (1989) were used as a framework for the discursive analysis of the personal advertisements. This involved three stages in which numerous factors within the text were scrutinized. This study offered an interesting insight into how women construct their identity in personal advertisements and illustrated a slight difference between descriptions of personal identity between women of differing social class.

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