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The Handbook of International Advertising Research by Hong Cheng

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15

Gender-Role Portrayals in International Advertising

Ping Shaw, Martin Eisend, and Yue Tan

Introduction

This chapter summarizes and discusses major findings of gender-role portrayals in international advertising research. We look at findings from studies that compare gender-role portrayals across different countries.

The portrayal of gender roles in advertising is considered important from different perspectives. From the marketing perspective, gender is one of the primary segmentation variables in marketing activities. From the media-effect perspective (e.g., cultivation theory and framing theory), advertising content, in the short run, influences social and psychological attitudes toward men and women; and in the long run, forms viewers’ perceptions of social reality. From a sociological perspective, a gender role is “a set of socially defined behavioral norms associated with males and with females” (Connell, 1987, p. 165), reflecting what a society typically expects a man or a woman to be like in terms of his or her traits, physical characteristics, behaviors, and occupational status.

In order to explain why gender plays different roles, functionalists assert that the division of labor based upon sex has survived because it benefits family stability and maintains efficient function for society (Parsons & Shils, 1951). In contrast, conflict theory argues that men maintain gender roles because they enjoy economic, political, and social privileges, although the present gender-role ...

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