Consuming Modernity: Media‘s Role in Normalizing Women‘s Labor in India and Thailand
Libby, Caitlin A.
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This paper seeks to draw from Foucault‘s theories on disciplinary techniques to reveal the way that media regulate women‘s behaviors so that their actions meet the needs of the patriarchal capitalist system from which they are situated. Using case studies from India and Thailand, I argue that past media research has been insufficient on many different fronts. Media not only disciplines normal gender behavior and body image for women, but also regulates what it means to identify as an empowered, modern, and upwardly mobile citizen. Within these case studies, modernity is equated with the purchase and consumption of beauty products. In order to consume products, women must have a job which gives them expendable cash to use on beauty products. For women to appear modern and mobile is an especially important message for countries that have been labeled as ―underdeveloped to portray. The appearance of modernity demonstrates that the country has ―moved up the evolutionary spectrum of capitalist and neoliberal development as defined by modernization theories. Ultimately I want to suggest that media‘s disciplinary mechanisms work to perpetuate a system where women are continually exploited by the panopticon of racialized, patriarchal capitalism. These case studies portray media as a socializing control and comparative discipline that normalizes and enforces specific gendered behavior and standards that perpetuate a patriarchal capitalist system of disadvantaging women within place specific, socio-historical and political contexts.
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