From Snow White to Frozen : An evaluation of popular gender representation indicators applied to Disney’s princess films
Simple content analysis methods, such as the Bechdel test and measuring percentage of female talk time or characters, have seen a surge of attention from mainstream media and in social media the last couple of years. Underlying assumptions are generally shared with the gender role socialization model and consequently, an importance is stated, due to a high degree to which impressions from media shape in particular young children’s identification processes. For young girls, the Disney Princesses franchise (with Frozen included) stands out as the number one player commercially as well as in customer awareness. The vertical lineup of Disney princesses spans from the passive and domestic working Snow White in 1937 to independent and super-power wielding princess Elsa in 2013, which makes the line of films an optimal test subject in evaluating above-mentioned simple content analysis methods. As a control, a meta-study has been conducted on previous academic studies on the same range of films. The sampled research, within fields spanning from qualitative content analysis and semiotics to coded content analysis, all come to the same conclusions regarding the general changes over time in representations of female characters. The objective of this thesis is to answer whether or not there is a correlation between these changes and those indicated by the simple content analysis methods, i.e. whether or not the simple popular methods are in general coherence with the more intricate academic methods.
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