The Role of Women’s Magazines in Transforming Their Image: An Empirical Research Study

Dr. M. K. Padhy
(Asst. Professor, Dept. of MCJ, BBAU, LKO)
Rashmi Kumari
(Research Scholar, Dept. of MCJ, BBAU, LKO)

1.1  Introduction

Communication is a powerful means of bringing about social changes. Radio, television, newspapers, and other mass media have shrunk the world. The image of women in terms of attributes such as level of education, occupation, income, perception of one’s status within the home and in the community, decision making role, number of restrictions imposed on one’s activities, freedom and so on differ from individual to individual. So, keeping in mind all the attributes the researcher was eager to study the role of female-centric magazines in transforming the image of women. Image has a broad dimension, so the researcher has taken only one dimension, mainly to define the image of women’s lifestyle. Giving a new dimension through adding a substantial volume of academic inputs into an already researched area is of paramount importance. The researcher has sincerely attempted to analyse and interpret the role of female-centric magazines in transforming the image of women. Besides being an academic research work, it would contribute to the socio-economic uplift of Indian women.

“Media is all pervasive; its functioning is very subtle. Media plays a vital role in the dissemination of information. It is called the fourth pillar of democratic polity. Radio, television, films, and the printed word reach all of us in this age of information and each strives to perfect its mode of communication to become more effective as a medium. Women’s magazines confer status on women as a group and make womanly things a serious business. They provide a public platform and a symbolic social order which consistently offers women a cheap and accessible source of positive evaluation alongside practical directions for fulfilling their potential as consumers. They also preach the ideal of a woman’s power of self-determination by their overwhelming emphasis on self-help. The print media mould the opinion, thinking and attitudes of women as at times the position of women portrayed in articles and stories are like their position”. (Chopra, 2008)

1.2  Research Methodology

1.2.1     Objective of the Research Study
  1. To know the female-centric magazines read by the women for changing lifestyle.
  2. To study the role of female-centric magazines in changing the lifestyle of women.
1.2.2     Research Questions
  1. Do women read female-centric magazines for changing their lifestyle?
  2. Which female-centric magazines are read by women?
  3. Do these magazines help in changing the lifestyle of women?
1.2.3     Research Design

This research is descriptive in nature. The researcher has used Survey method for eliciting responses on a particular issue. The data and information were collected from women respondents who were aged eighteen and above and read female-centric magazines.

Universe of the Study: Women of Lucknow City

Unit of the Study: An individual woman who reads women’s magazines.

Sampling Size for Final Survey: 100

Sampling Technique: Purposive Sampling

Sample Study Area: Lucknow East (Ashiyana and Cantt.)

Primary Data:  Through Interview Schedule

Secondary Data: The secondary data includes books, magazines, journals, periodicals and different websites.

1.2.4     Limitations of the Study
  1. Due to shortage of time and budget, the researcher was forced to limit the sample size by one hundred only.
  2. Due to the time constraint, it was not feasible to collect data from the whole city of Lucknow. Therefore, the researcher has confined the study area to Lucknow East (Ashiyana and Cantt.).

1.3  Data Analysis and Interpretation

Figure 1:  Do you like the print media (reading)?

Slide1

Interpretation

From the figure above, it is cleared those ninety eight percent preferred the print media.

Figure 2:  If yes, then which print medium do you prefer reading?

Slide2

Interpretation

The response shows that about seventy nine percent of the respondents chose newspapers as the most preferred medium. A negligible number of respondents preferred novel for reading. Magazine was the preferred print medium for sixty eight percent of the respondents.

Figure 3: Do you like reading women’s magazines?

Slide3

Interpretation

The above figure shows that eighty eight percent respondents preferred reading women’s magazines and only a negligible percentage did not like reading female magazines.

Figure 4:  If yes, then which women’s magazines do you read?

Slide4

Interpretation

Nearly half of the sample size, i.e., forty seven percent, preferred Femina. Sarita (thirty one percent) and Women’s Era (thirty percent) were second on their priority list. Vanita (twenty eight percent), MeriSaheli (twenty seven percent) and GrehSobha (twenty five percent) occupied nearly the same spot on the preference list. GrehLaxmi (sixteen percent), Cosmopolitan (fourteen percent) and Sakhi (thirteen percent) were nearly equal in preference.

Figure 5: Which language do you prefer while reading magazines?

Slide5

Interpretation

The above figure depicts that more than half of the respondents (fifty eight percent) preferred reading both Hindi and English language magazines. About twenty nine percent preferred Hindi and thirteen percent respondents preferred English.

Figure 6: With what purpose do you read the magazine chosen in the above question?

Slide6

Interpretation

It is clear that fifty eight percent respondents read magazines for entertainment purpose. About fifty four percent read the magazines for awareness purpose and fifty three percent read for educational enhancement. On the other hand, forty nine percent read magazines for infotainment and forty one percent for improving their lifestyle and a negligible number of respondents read magazines for purely empowerment.

Figure 7: What types of content do you like reading in your favourite magazine?

Slide7

Interpretation

Forty four percent of respondents read professional/education related contents and forty three percent liked reading contents related to education and cookery. Thirty seven percent respondents liked stories and features related to ideal women. About twenty nine percent opined that they preferred content connected to personal and private problems and twenty five percent showed interest in family caring contents. Twenty four percent read content on economic empowerment and only fourteen percent liked contents related to human rights and other legal rights.

Figure 8: Do you find any content or advertisement related to the lifestyle in your favourite magazine?

Slide8

Interpretation

The inference from the above figure is that the majority of the respondents, i.e.,84 percent, did find contents and advertisements related to lifestyle in their favourite magazines. About twelve percent respondents did not give any opinion and four per cent said ‘no’ to the query.

Figure 9: If yes, please elaborate 

Slide9

Interpretation

To the question on contents and advertisements related to the lifestyle, forty four percent stated that they noted physical appearance related contents and advertisements, thirty three percent spotted family caring features. About thirty two percent respondents opined that social behavioural skills and self-dependent related articles and features appeared in their favourite magazines. About thirty percent responded that they saw decision making contents, twenty nine percent noticed management skill contents, twenty eight percent found professional behavioural skills and self-care type of contents and advertisements. A few of the respondents mentioned that they found stuff related to new thoughts.

Figure 10: Do you use the tips related to lifestyle in your favourite magazines?

Slide10

Interpretation

It is clear that almost half of the total respondents, i.e., forty four percent, partially used the lifestyle tips that appeared in their favourite magazine and a negligible number of respondents did not. About thirty nine percent respondents said yes and twelve percent of them answered they cannot say anything.

1.4  Discussion

Figure 1: The majority of respondents (98 percent) preferred reading female magazines and only a negligible percentage (two percent) did not.

Figure 2: As for the respondents’ preference in the print media, nearly 79 percent chose newspapers. Novel was the preference of only 32 percent. Magazine was the second most preferred medium—68 percent of the respondents.

Figure 3: The majority of respondents (88 percent) prefer reading women’s magazines and 12 percent could not answer the question.

Figure 4: Asked to select the most preferred female-centric magazine, nearly half of the sample size (47 percent) chose Feminawhile Sarita (31 percent) and Women’s era (30 percent) were second on their list. Vanita (28 percent), MeriSaheli (27 percent) and GrehSobha (25 percent) were almost equal in their preference list. Next in the order of preference were GrehLaxmi (16 percent), Cosmopolitan (14 percent) and Sakhi (13 percent). Their low preference was linked to the quality of their contents.

Figure 5: The researcher understood that more than half of the respondents (58 percent) preferred reading magazines in both the languages (Hindi and English). About 29 percent respondents preferred Hindi alone while the remaining 13 percent respondents preferred magazines in English.

Figure 6: The figure depicted that 58 percent of the respondents read magazines for entertainment purposes. About 54 percent read for awareness and 53 percent for knowledge enhancement. On the other hand, 49 percent selected magazines for infotainment while 41 per cent chose magazines for improving their lifestyle. A small percentage of 19 percent read for purely empowerment. On the basis of this discussion, it is evident that the magazine content relating to women empowerment was less in demand. .

Figure 7: Regarding the type of content, they liked reading in their favourite magazines, about 44 percent respondents read professional education related contents,43percent prefer reading about education and cookery. About 37 percent respondents favour stories and features related to ideal women in society.  A meagre 26 percent of the respondents opined that they preferred reading content connected to personal and private problems while 27 percent showed interest in family caring contents. Twenty-four per cent respondents read magazines for economic empowerment and 14 percent for human and legal rights.

Figure 8: The majority of respondents (84 percent) found contents and advertisements related to lifestyle in their favourite magazines. Twelve percent replied that they could not say anything and a negligible four percent) answered that they did not find it. The researcher observed that the respondents were very eager to express their thoughts on lifestyle contents. They showed keen interest in improving their standard of living and be familiar with the modern thought processes with the help of women’s magazines.

Figure 9: As for contents and advertisements related to lifestyle, 44 percent respondents stated that they did notice advertisements and contents relating to physical appearance. On the other hand, 33 percent saw family caring features, 32 percent opined that articles and features on social behavioural skills and self-dependences appeared in their favourite magazines. Nearly 30 percent of the respondents get exposed to decision making contents while 29 percent described management skill-oriented contents as their most favourite. Nearly 28 percent respondents prefer contents like professional behavioural skills, self-care, and advertisements.

Figure 10: Almost half of the total respondents (44 percent) partially used the tips related to lifestyle that appeared in their favourite magazine and five percent did not do so. About 39 percent respondents spoke on a positive note while 12 percent respondents answered they could not speak on their option.

1.5  Conclusion

This research would definitely contribute to the study of female-centric magazines and their role in enhancing women empowerment. What the respondents look for in these magazines has been cited in the recommendations. Media is playing a vital role in spreading awareness and disseminating information to the people. Women’s magazines also disseminate information and spread awareness among the target audience.

The researcher finds that Femina, Sarita and Women’s Era are the most widely read magazines among the respondents. Female-centric magazines help to improve the lifestyle and the standard of living of women and young girls. The women read these magazines mostly for entertainment, awareness, education, and lifestyle.

Contents relating to physical appearance or advertisements appear mostly in female-centric magazines. Family care, social behavioural skill, self-dependence, decision making, management skill, professional behavioural skill, self-care and new thoughts are written about in these magazines and are essential for improving lifestyle.

1.6  Recommendations for Female-Centric Magazines

Based upon the research inputs elicited from the survey, the researcher has recommended the following:

  1. For improving the societal image of women, they must be shown in positive roles. Indecent representation must not be done. Case studies of successful women must be portrayed and highlighted. Motivating stories must be told to instil values in Indian society in particular.
  2. Women should be encouraged to become self-reliant and stay away from superstitious beliefs. They should develop a rational outlook. Information relating to legal rights of women (new amendments) etc. should be given in simpler language. The more they are informed the more aware they become, they can do justice, take good decisions, and can also make a distinction between right and wrong.
  3. If some information about mutual funds, stocks, real estate etc. is added in women centric magazines, they can also understand and help their partners in decision making process, because housewives usually don’t read business magazines.
  4. Information on latest technologies and their applications should be given.
  5. Vaastu knowledge should also be added.
  6. Lifestyle of common working women rather than the celebrities should be highlighted in women’s magazines.
  7. Animal care and pet care features can also include in women magazines.
  8. At least two or three pages must be devoted to general awareness to enhance the knowledge of women.

References

  • Anusha, Chopra, (2008).Portrayal of  Women in Print Media (Research Paper).
  • Creedon, J., Pamela and Cramer, Judith, (2007).Women in Mass Communication, Third Edition, Sage Publication.
  • Forbes, Geraldine, (2008). Women in Colonial India – Essay on Politics, Chronicle Books, An Imprint of DC Publications, New Delhi.
  • Hessebiber, Nagy, Sharlene. The Handbook of Feminist Research Theory and Praxis, Sage Publications, Ltd.
  • Kaushik, Asha, (2013), in her edited book Development, Globalization and Women, Pawat Publications.
  • Laxmi, Dr. (2012). Women Empowerment Through Self Help Groups, Prateeksha Publications, Jaipur.
  • Polit, M. Karin, (2012). Women of Honour, Orient Black Swan Pvt Ltd., New Delhi.
  • Prasad, Kiran, (2005). Women, Media and Society: Recasting Communication Policy, in the edited book by herself “Women and media-challenging feminist discourse”, The women’s press.
  • Rao, Pulla, D.(2012). Political Empowerment of Women in India: Challenges and Strategies, ABD Publishers, New Delhi.
  • Ross, Karen and Byerly, M., Carolyn, (2004).Women in Media International Perspective, Blackwell Publication.

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