Who reads Urdu women's magazines and why? An investigation of the content, purpose and production of digests

Siddiqui, Nadia (2012). Who reads Urdu women's magazines and why? An investigation of the content, purpose and production of digests. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This study investigates the very popular Urdu women's magazines and their readership, to find out what images of Pakistani life and values the digests promote, who reads them, and whether there is evidence that this vision influences the readers for good or ill. The study involves a content analysis of 30 issues of the digests for the past seven years, a thematic analysis of interview with five editors/producers of the digest and 21 of their readers, and a survey of 308 Urdu speakers - including both avid and non-readers of the digests. The individual and group interview with readers and non-readers provide further explanation of the choice and possible impact of reading digests.

The findings show the digests as very conservative, intolerant of romance outside marriage, with no portrayal of alternative life styles, and a largely unsympathetic portrayal of western women and values - although there are some interesting tensions in the images used for the revenue-generating advertisements. The readers are generally moderate Muslims, who read the digests to pass time, for enjoyment, or to learn more about something meaningful to their lives. Regular digest readers are likely to have more leisure time than self-reported non-readers or occasional readers, and are also more likely to seek other entertainment via TV and films. Intriguingly, both the regular and non-readers have very similar values and ideals in their life - about relationships and religion, for example. Therefore, the digests appear to be 'mental chocolate', with no evidence here of insidious influence from the continuously conservative portrayal of Muslim women. If so, and if editors and publishers of these digests accept that this is so, then they can afford to offer their readers a greater variety of 'flavours', particularly by adding a more rounded liberal view of Pakistani women, and of women more generally. This finding has lessons for the conduct and validity of past and future research in this area. Where this study differs from the 'established wisdom' of prior research, it is largely because it compares the views of readers with non-readers, whereas most studies only consider readers, and because it looks at textual content, the intent of the text producers, and the reactions of the readers in one study.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4024


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