Re-Inventing the Cosmo Girl: How a Magazine Neutralizes Competing Discourses

Maj-Britt Höglund

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


    A woman’s magazine is a forum where descriptions of the ideal modern woman meet with the experiences of real-life women readers. In the forum that is Cos-mopolitan, the genres of editorials and feature stories enter a dialogue with each other. The editorials promote the dominant discourse of fun, fearless females, inviting the reader to join the party. The feature stories, then, start from the op-posite end of the spectrum: lives out of control. These discourses are made up of narratives of possible problems, even disasters.
    In both text genres the reader is addressed as a reader and a friend in the manner of advertising. In the case of Cosmopolitan, the reader/friend is epitomized as the Cosmo girl. She is a construction derived from market research; the consumer targeted by both the publisher and the advertisers.
    The purpose of the study is to investigate how the magazine deals with dis-courses which challenge the discourse of the ideal performance of the Cosmo girl femininity. The material consists of the 12 editorials of Cosmopolitan UK 2004 and 48 feature stories in Cosmopolitan UK 2004 and 2006. This study is set within Critical Discourse Analysis and regards discourse as a creation of identi-ties. The method is repertoire analysis, where the repertoires are seen as descrip-tions of the performance characterizing these identities. The repertoires are formed by recurring themes referring to the behaviour of the Cosmo girl.
    The results suggest that the magazine chooses to allow certain competing dis-courses describing trouble in the life of the Cosmo girl. By doing so, it is able to produce new discourses of its own which neutralize the competing discourses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationVaasa
    Print ISBNs978-952-476-671-5
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-476-672-2
    Publication statusPublished - 10.05.2016
    MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


    • 612,1 Languages
    • women's magazines
    • editorials
    • feature stories
    • critical discourse analysis
    • repertoire analysis
    • the ideal Cosmo girl


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