Mass-mediated marketplace images (for example, in advertisements) construct cultural norms through which we form our identities and ultimately, our consumption preferences. They produce and reproduce gender ideologies, ideas and ideals of motherhood practice that shape everyday lives. Nevertheless, the whole process of this ideological production and reproduction depends on cultural context and deeply enrooted cultural mechanisms. Exploring this relation, this thesis analyses Russian consumer culture in terms of the production and reproduction of gender and motherhood ideologies using the lenses of consumer culture theory and feminism.
To understand mass-mediated gendered motherhood ideologies, this research develops a contemporary iconography of motherhood using print media advertising in Russian magazines, using an innovative analytical methodology of visual content analysis. Based on the outcomes of this, the study adopts a photoelicitation method, using this iconography in in-depth interviews, to understand Russian mothers’ response to, conformity and resistance towards these portrayed ideals.
The theoretical background of the thesis comprises of consumer culture theory (2005), Bourdieu’s symbolic power (1989; 1990) and Schroeder’s visual consumption (2005; 2006) enabling the interpretation on the impact and the influence of archetypal representations on Russian mother’s identity construction and corresponding consumption preferences and tastes. Based on this research the theoretical perspectives are extended, suggesting that gender ideology is not only class, gender and race conditioned, but also conditioned by socially stratified secondary elements (i.e. marital status, age, location) and can shift across the boundaries of these important categories as mothers struggle with the motherhood and gender ideals presented to them in the magazines they read.