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Spelman College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development

Abstract

Mass media increasingly has become a powerful force around the world. It is impactful and useful in its various forms such as film, books, newspapers, magazines, television and visual and audio music. However even in its informative, educational, communicative, and entertaining character, the media also has the propensity to mirror larger societal practices, perceptions, thoughts, and opinions pertaining to social dynamics encountered within society. Thus social constructs of gender, race, class and other identity characteristics are exemplified and amplified through media forms. Such realities found in the media have the propensity to be socially dangerous in that it can shape the opinions of an identity group based on the images projected, specifically in persuasive forms of media, like advertisement. This study therefore is a triangular analysis of the gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon purveyed through the media; specifically those transmitted through television commercials aired on privately owned Cameroonian television network, Canal 2; using content analysis or observation of the station during an average of 20 hours. The study additionally explores the awareness and perceptions of these images and their accompanied messages by Cameroonian women and men through surveys and formal interviews. Triangular study results revealed that television commercials aired on Canal 2 reproduce gender roles pertaining specifically to motherhood and its assumed associated tasks; cleaning and cooking, and taking care of the children. Beauty standards presented themselves less overtly however a difference was observed and cited by interview participants between cosmetic and alimentation and household items advertisements.

Les medias sont de puissants moyen de communication à travers le monde entier. Ils existent sous formes filmiques, livresques, électroniques et papiers. Ils permettent aussi de s’informer, communiquer et se distraire. C’est aussi par les medias que sont véhiculées des idées, des pensées, et des imaginaires sociétales. Conséquemment, perceptions sociales de genre, de race, de classe, et de l’identité féminines se construisent par le canal médiatique et plus particulièrement celui de la publicité. Ainsi, la présente étude qui se situe au cœur des women’s studies explore les imaginaires féminins qui sont véhiculés dans la société camerounaise à travers les publicités. Selon une approche croisée faite à partir des sources orales et écrites, ce travail est aussi le résultat de 20h de décryptage de publicités audiovisuelles diffusées à travers Canal 2. De ce fait, l’analyse des documents filmiques publicitaires a permis de ressortir les différentes conceptions du rôle de la femme qui s’élaborent dans le cadre familial et dans le domaine de l’esthétique.

Disciplines

African Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Inequality and Stratification

 

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