Library Dissertation Showcase

To what extent did advertising in the British post-war media influence the dominant female identity being that of a housewife?

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

This dissertation examines the extent to which advertising in the press and on television, from 1955 to 1965, perpetuated the dominant female identity being that of the housewife. This is the first study to consider the significance of how the advertisement of convenience foods, specifically Birds Eye, contributed to the continuation and normalisation of women being confined to the domestic sphere. This thesis draws upon the current historiography, which illustrates the influence that advertising media had on affirming the appropriate role for women being that of a housewife and uses it to demonstrate just how widespread the reliance of the media on the housewife was and the implications of this. Through adopting a gendered element to the analysis of Birds Eye press and television advertisements during the post-war period, this dissertation reveals how such promotions did not simply encourage the consumption of a given product, but instead served to market the socio-political agenda of the British government. Advertisers succeeded in doing this through the creation of an aspirational consumer world, which invited customers to purchase not just products, but the lifestyle and emotions attached to them. The increased affluence of the British population, and with it the expansion of consumer goods, meant that the advertising industry and its influence was rapidly expanding. Through relying on the nostalgic image of the housewife, advertisers appeased government concerns that mass-consumerism was instrumental in the moral degradation of the British public, whilst also ensuring that all aspects of the media depicted female devotion to the domestic sphere as their primary social role. This dissertation concludes that the presiding image of the housewife used by advertising companies during the post-war period, had significant influence in the formation of female identities being centred around the domestic sphere.

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