Talking Girls: New Femininities, Old Moralities

Dane, Julia. 2007. Talking Girls: New Femininities, Old Moralities. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This research began with the aim to investigate girls' understanding and negotiations of post-feminist femininity. There have been identified shifts in discourses of femininity across the last thirty years, with the term "new femininities" coined to encapsulate perceived changes. This term suggests a shift from patriarchal femininities founded in traditional moralities, to new discourses of femininity in terms of freedom and choice. For the purposes of this project, music video has been identified as a way to map out changing representations of femininity. Music videos, which include sound and movement with visual image, are targeted at a teenage audience. At the time the research was conducted, female artists such as Christina Aguilera and 8eyonce Knowles epitomised the successful, independent and sexy post-feminist woman.

To explore girls' engagements with discourses of new femininities, a series of focus groups were conducted with girls aged thirteen and fourteen. Music videos, as a visual representation of the research question, were shown to prompt group discussion. This is an empirical project whose aim is to explore the themes that emerge in the girls' talk. A form of conversation analysis that looks specifically at female talk underpins the method of analysis. Foucault's concept of discourse is used to consider how ways of doing femininity is present in the girls' talk. The analysis also takes into account the interactions within the focus groups, producing a rich and nuanced account of both talk and embodied interaction. This research highlights how new femininities have produced new points of negotiation in contemporary accounts of growing up girl. Further, the thesis will argue that regardless of shifts in discourses of femininities, traditional moral values remain a dominant point of negotiation in the process of growing up girl. The focus on the girls' talk produces a significant contribution to debates around new femininities, by adding girls' voices to academic debate.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


patriarchal femininities, Foucault, Music videos, femininity, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce Knowles

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Jun 2020 16:15

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:43


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