The Biggest Selling Celebrity Magazine In The Uk Media Essay
The process of gathering data to buttress my arguments in my second chapter. Collection and analysis of the primary data is important at this stage of my research. I have divided this section into two parts. The first part which is to concentrate on one magazine (Now magazine) instead of using various magazines which may create a broad or insignificant survey. Although, now magazine is not the biggest selling celebrity magazine in the UK, it is one of the most read after the current biggest seller (Heat magazine); my focus is on one of now magazines current Editions which allows for accessibility of data. The angles that will be considered here will be that will be considered here will be a brief history of Now magazine, readership and circulation figures as well as the use of languages, images used and how they relate to the target readers(audience) and more importantly gender and celebrity representations I will use semiotical approach in analyzing.
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As Fiske describe's "semiotics as being essentially a theoretical approach to communication in that it aims to establish widely applicable principles." (Fiske 1982, 118). Using semiotic analysis to analyze the magazine, the process of encoding and decoding dominant codes which signify some of the component looked at the theory chapter (2). Focusing, for instance on the key themes evident in chapter 2 as the female celebrity is seen as attributed celebrity with explanatory power in relations to representations of reality and the 'can do' ideology, discourse whether they are normative or otherwise relating to the opposite ideology of the manufactured self and the ideal self in relations to the general female celebrity discourses of capitalism and power, the irony and criticism of performance as celebrities.
However, this is evident in the aims and objectives laid out in my introduction and the key themes in the theory chapter (2). For the purpose of Focus in my research using a specific celebrity is keen in order to give direct attribution and subject study, I have selected Kerry Katona because she represents the essence of the contemporary celebrity by being extremely famous for a certain period as the (Atomic Kitten) and now presenter on This Morning; British breakfast show. Kerry's constant issues in the media regarding her body and weight makes her a mirror that reflects what contemporary celebrity culture is defined as according to the expectations of the society. Following the series of life events about Kerry Katona's life style in celebrity magazines, her image has developed from the Fat woman to the skinny woman is depicted, " I've had a tummy tuck, 'but i still hate my body'' ( Cover of Now ,16th -23rd of July,2012).
This leads to the next section of my research which allows me to test hypothesis and compare my findings with the results gained from the readers. Here I have chosen to carry out extensive in depth qualitative individual interviews with four now magazine readers from different age groups -Two from the age group 17-25 and the second group from the age range 26-35.The interviewees are all female because of femininity being a key theme in this research and these interviews will open resources in form of information regarding celebrity and discourses of femininity by comparing the age groups and the relations to the actual readers
In media analysis semiotics is one of the media techniques used especially when describing representations and trying to create meaning through texts. Saussure (1966), wrote the book A course in general linguistics; where he suggested the possibility of semiotic analysis for the first time ever. Saussure described semiotic analysis as a "concept that can be applied to signs by dividing sign into two components namely the signifier or 'sound image' and the signified or 'concept'.
Barthe's (1973) book on mythologies beholds the ideology of "interpreting and reading cultural products as text by cultural semanticians."Aspects of the popular culture which were initially taken for granted instead of being suggested as objects of academic study were analyzed in Barthes book. For instance, where he analyzed advertising (Barthes,1973). His claims were influenced by the work of saussure in structural linguistics (Sassure,1986). When Sassure proposed language as a structure, made up of the signifier and the signified which he generally referred to as 'sign'. For example, the sound or sequence of letters 'Horse' operates as signifier while the image of horse in our cognitive system functions as signified.
The distinction between connotational and denotational levels of meaning was introduced by Barthes in (1973) when the circulation of meaning n society was further examined. The above mentioned horse image for instance, may denote a horse but may also connote cultural myths, as it may represent, pre-industrialized lifestyle, transportation animals , domesticated animals depending on how each culture interprets meaning. However, Brathes made the ideological function of myths clear , by stating that constructed meaning in the interests of a particular society is made to seem natural and given.
Semiotic analysis can however, challenge this by revealing the underlying dependent of systems of codes and signification, and producing new readings. As John Storey on the one hand argues, "the aim of Barthes book is to make explicit what often times is seen as implicit and unnoticed in texts" ( Storey, 2006, p.274) and Fiske on the other hand describes semiotic analysis as " vulnerable to the criticism that it is often too theoretical , speculative and that attempts to prove or disprove theories in an objective, scientific way cannot be carried out by semioticians." (Fiske 1982,118 )
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This provides a theoretical background in relation to my work for the interpretation of images and words in the magazines. Readable codes like, framing, body postures, dressing will describe how women are represented in a specific way (s). On the other hand, Language is used in a specific approach to support certain productions of aspiration. Although, this seems natural, i can analyze how these codes either fit into or disrupt the discourses of celebrity culture as we have seen in my literature review or theory chapter (2), as well as how these codes are connected in order to provide readings of magazine representation.
My interviewees are people I am familiar with (not necessarily directly), ensuring reliability and availability as well as comfortability and lightened up mood is important with the interview site. The above modes will allow the interviewees speak freely without any constraints, but more importantly I will sustain that the discussion is based around key themes (Silverman 2004,P.140 : Jensen 2002,P. 156 ).All issues will include , identification with celebrities ,readership habits ,patterns of consumption, attitude toward celebrity ,issues of gender amongst others which will allow me relate the interviews to my research. This will definitely be analyzed by identifying the relationship between the interviews and the issues in my literature review.
I have selected four people to be interviewed. Carol is a 19 year old student from London, Eno is a 21 year old professional from London, Inny is a 28 year old professional from London, and Chi is a 31 year old professional from London. The age differences allows me to easily identify if there are any major differences in the responses that is why i have been divided them, Carol and Eno occupy the 17-25 year old group , while Inny and Chi occupy the 26- 35 year old age group. However, in order not to attempt to make generalizations relating to other factors such as socio-economic context which is external to the scope of this study the interviewees' backgrounds are kept at minimum level as this allows for in depth focus on issues of gender and celebrity.
As people I know, i have recruited the interviewees via social networks of communication making sure that they at least have interest in celebrity magazines as well as knowledge of some key themes through background research.
In order to make the interviewees speak without constraints I have chosen the conversational style of interviewing which makes it possible for me to direct the conversation towards the themes and topics in my research .The best format for achieving this is the semi-structured (having a frame work of themes t be explored). This is not to say there are no disadvantages with this approach. On one hand, the interviewees may become to free and divert from the themes, leaving me with irrelevant materials. On the other hand, the use of communication skills in interviewing becomes important to ensure balance in their response because longer interviews will give room for me to put words into their mouth to give answers that I want to hear.
The interview will be conducted individually so as to get individual opinions of the interviewees. The sample size is small and I will need to be careful not to use the series of answers to form generalizations. However, it should be noted that only the opinions and attitudes of a few women will be reported, therefore, my research will be based on my interest in finding out whether my arguments in chapters 1 and 2 are challenged , developed or confirmed through assertions and problems. In other words, parts of the research has been analyzed based on the conversations and the other aspects based on some themes, this means that the research will be analyzed using conversation analysis as well as qualitative thematic analysis.
This research study involves using both interview analysis and semiotic analysis reason being that it allows me to compare, the codes magazines use to create meaning and how these codes are related to broader discourses of gender and lifestyle through reader's interpretation. It also allows room for comparison between the producer and audience which is fundamental in answering my specific research question, which suggests that I need to understand my own critical interpretations as well as everyday performances of gender. It is right to use a virtually small sample size because this research is based on an in depth qualitative study as I don't want to drift from the scope of the study. Combining the critical analysis with in depth responses is important and it will enable me not to get caught up in attempts at conducting large samples. However, this can become a limitation and suggest the possibility of further research, using the critical qualitative method employed meanwhile with a larger sample size.
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Therefore, since focus s important throughout this research adapting my questions around the key issues emerging from the theory chapter (2) is keen.
Research ethics is important in conducting this kind of research. I am aware of research ethics which involves for instance, getting interviewees consent that they are willing to have their opinions documented and recorded, or to be anonymous or change their names. Although this sample size is small but it is enough for carrying out my research hypothesis through comparisons made between female readers of different age groups.
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