Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Michael O'Shaughnessy

Abstract

This thesis on Domestic Space and the Construction of Identity investigates the construction of feminine identity within the domestic journal. The devalued status of the homes magazine is a direct reflection of the devalued status of women's domestic work and its political insignificance in a patriarchal society which values external paid labour over unpaid domestic work. This work is of course central to society and homes magazines provide an important focus for research since they intersect with the construction of femininity and roles for women. The contradictory nature of the domestic journal is such that while it supports the hegemonic order by presupposing that women's sphere is the domestic, it concurrently provides female readers with an important vehicle of self validation in which the home is at the core rather than the periphery of social relations. It is this contradictory nature of the magazine that this study will address, primarily within an Australian cultural framework where the domestic ideal supports the dominant western ideologies in terms of class and gender. To do so I will formulate a methodology based on the traditions of feminist theory and its perspective on domesticity and mass culture narratives for women, and place these within an Australian cultural framework. The second part of the study concentrates on the application of these theoretical perspective to textual and contextual analysis of the magazines. This will illustrate the domestic agenda and, through the deconstruction of narratives and advertisements, reveal the multiple discourses of femininity through which the reader finds pleasure. The feasibility of this research project, particularly with regard to the contextual analysis is possible because of my access to 'first hand' accounts of women's reading of the texts through my position on the editorial staff of a domestic journal.

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