Social change and the corporate construction of gay markets in The New York Times' Advertising Business News

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Abstract

Analysis of a random sample of New York Times' advertising business news articles reveals change in the perception and pursuit of sexual minorities - gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-persons (GLBTs) - as consumers of mainstream products between 1980 and 2000. Critical analysis identified three trends: corporate shunning; corporate curiosity and fear; corporate pursuit. Social representation, cultural norms, stereotypes and visibility were explored for each trend, revealing qualitative and quantitative inequality among social groups. Although all GLBTs experienced increased news coverage, gay men received twice the coverage of lesbians. Advertisers and the Times changed from stigmatizing and avoiding homosexuals to promoting stereotypes of gay affluence, creating 'controversial' ad campaigns with 'shock value', commodifying social identity and establishing a gay market niche. Representations reflect homogenized understandings of sexuality, with bisexuals and trans-persons invisible. Case studies demonstrate the Times' contribution to norms, values and beliefs characterizing GLBTs, supporting research characterizing the media an active agent shaping cultural production of sexuality. Visibility is argued not to have granted social legitimation but to evidence social change in the status of homosexuality from deviant/stigmatized to selectively commodified and spectacularized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-676
Number of pages24
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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Visibility
Marketing
social change
news
human being
market
homosexuality
stereotype
sexuality
Industry
coverage
market niche
affluence
legitimation
trend
random sample
Values
campaign
minority
anxiety

Cite this

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title = "Social change and the corporate construction of gay markets in The New York Times' Advertising Business News",
abstract = "Analysis of a random sample of New York Times' advertising business news articles reveals change in the perception and pursuit of sexual minorities - gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-persons (GLBTs) - as consumers of mainstream products between 1980 and 2000. Critical analysis identified three trends: corporate shunning; corporate curiosity and fear; corporate pursuit. Social representation, cultural norms, stereotypes and visibility were explored for each trend, revealing qualitative and quantitative inequality among social groups. Although all GLBTs experienced increased news coverage, gay men received twice the coverage of lesbians. Advertisers and the Times changed from stigmatizing and avoiding homosexuals to promoting stereotypes of gay affluence, creating 'controversial' ad campaigns with 'shock value', commodifying social identity and establishing a gay market niche. Representations reflect homogenized understandings of sexuality, with bisexuals and trans-persons invisible. Case studies demonstrate the Times' contribution to norms, values and beliefs characterizing GLBTs, supporting research characterizing the media an active agent shaping cultural production of sexuality. Visibility is argued not to have granted social legitimation but to evidence social change in the status of homosexuality from deviant/stigmatized to selectively commodified and spectacularized.",
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