Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This study examines the portrayal of media within print advertisements found in Harper's Magazine between 1931 and 2000. This study evaluated a number of categories to provide understanding of the role of media within society, specifically the portrayal of gender and media use, how media are used in society and the perceived class within the advertisements featuring media products. The study also looked at the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, which states that a socioeconomic elite group are the first people within a society to adopt new ideas or technologies. A content analysis, both quantitative and qualitative, of Harper's Magazine produced the following results. The portrayal of women has not dramatically changed during the past seventy years and advertisements within Harper's Magazine still reflect negative images of women, such as, women as submissive, women as frivolous and women as decorative objects. Many gender stereotypes were evident throughout the study as more advertisements reflected women as wives and mothers than as career women. The exploration of the representation of media within advertising revealed that media were most often represented in a number of ways. The most common included, media use as relaxation, media bringing families together, media as tools of education and media as instruments in career development. The analysis of perceived class within advertisements revealed that some media, especially electronic media such as radio and television, are more often found in an upper class setting. The study advances our understanding of the Diffusion of Innovation theory by providing information about the portrayal of communication technologies within advertising. Future studies may further examine the role of this theory by evaluating how advertising contributes to the Diffusion of Innovation theory by positioning media to certain target audiences.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Anne Cunningham