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Ethics Theory and Business Practice 8.3 Feminine Ethics – Part Three Business Activity and Notions of Femininity.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics Theory and Business Practice 8.3 Feminine Ethics – Part Three Business Activity and Notions of Femininity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics Theory and Business Practice 8.3 Feminine Ethics – Part Three Business Activity and Notions of Femininity

2 aims to consider how essentialist and constructionist perspectives on the nature of femininity might relate to business ethics to consider how consumer marketing might be responsible for sustaining stereotypical images of gender that contribute to the subordination of women

3 the nature of gender essentialism gender is something that we are born with; an essential part of our being, which confers on us certain ways of thinking and acting social constructionism gender is a role that we learn to play in response to social conditioning or

4 Luce Irigaray: an essentialist perspective there are fundamental differences between men and women the unique contribution that men and women can make needs to be embraced if the human species is to realise its full potential for this to happen, men and women need to respect the contributions that the other can make however we are far from this state of and mutual respect due to a self-perpetuating cycle of male dominance and female subordination … (Irigaray, 2004/1984)

5 a self-perpetuating cycle of male dominance and female subordination men dominate public life masculine traits come to be associated with success in public life men demonstrate masculine traits most emphatically, so they are considered best suited to public life

6 in business as in the rest of public life men dominate business leadership roles masculine traits come to be associated with success in business leadership men demonstrate masculine traits most emphatically, so they are considered best suited to business leadership

7 overcoming this situation of dominance and subordination requires more respect for the unique contribution that feminine qualities can make to public life and to business leadership femininity should be seen as different to masculinity, rather than as better or worse

8 Judith Butler: a social constructionist perspective rejects the notion that gender is a stable, universal essence that necessarily confers upon people fixed behavioural, intellectual, emotional and ethical characteristics gender is merely a way of categorizing people that we have become accustomed to using, but which has no real existence beyond that which is not to deny the existence of physiological differences it is just to say that these physiological differences do not necessarily offer a basis for dividing the human race in two (Butler, 2004/1987)

9 moreover we create stereotypical, idealized notions of gender upon which we base criteria of desirability and normality which impacts negatively on the self-esteem and self-identity of the many people who do not conform to those stereotypical depictions

10 encouraging respect essentialism calls for the unique contributions of men and women to be recognized social constructionism calls for the unique contribution of each individual to be recognized, without categorizing it in terms of masculinity and femininity both essentialism and social constructionism alert us to the harm that might be caused when stereotypical depictions of gender are used to justify people’s allocation to certain arenas and their preclusion from others

11 consumer marketing and gender stereotyping gender displays in adverts refers to the stances that men and women adopt in relation to one another which normalize the roles and status differentials that they depict for example: – the feminine touch – function ranking – ritualization of subordination (Goffman, 1979/1974)

12 some general tendencies concerning gender representation in television adverts menwomen often shown in professional and autonomous roles more likely to be shown in dependent roles often shown away from the home, most notably in the workplace more likely to be shown at home or indoors more likely to be shown offering reasoned, factual arguments in support of their statements less likely to be shown offering factual arguments to support their opinions more likely to give an end comment less likely to give an end comment likely to appear in adverts promoting automotive products, sports equipment, and business- related goods more likely to be shown displaying domestic goods and body products (Furnham and Mak, 1999)

13 gender representation in television adverts

14 face-ism the extent that an advertising image presents a person’s face and head, rather than showing their neck, shoulders and lower parts of their body the face and the head are usually regarded as the centre of a person’s intellect, personality, identity and character so by focussing on someone’s face and head, a photograph emphasizes the intellect, personality, identity and character of that person in advertising images, men’s faces tend to be given more prominence than those of women whose bodies are more likely to be shown (Schroeder and Borgerson, 2005)

15 what responsibilities do marketers have in this respect?

16 one response: marketers’ role is to sell stuff their role is not to judge the ethicality of gender roles that society has established over many centuries marketers are just showing things the way they are if showing things as they are helps them to sell things, then so be it

17 an alternative response: marketers should not remain ‘morally myopic’ marketers have a significant capacity to shape public attitudes this capacity comes with a responsibility to remain alert to its ethical implications marketers should therefore pay attention to the broader impact of the images they portray, rather than just thinking about how effectively those images will sell their products (Schroeder and Borgerson, 2005)

18 key points both essentialist and social constructionist perspectives highlight problems that might be caused by stereotypical depictions of gender business marketers may be culpable of creating and sustaining unhelpful gender stereotypes this creates a choice for marketers: whether to remain morally myopic or whether to be sensitive to the ethical implications of the images they portray

19 references Butler, J. (2004/1987) ‘Variations on sex and gender: Beauvoir, Wittig, Foucault’, in S. Salih (ed.), The Judith Butler Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell. pp. 22–38. Furnham, A. and Mak, T. (1999) ‘Sex-role stereotyping in television commercials: a review and comparison of fourteen studies done in five continents over 25 years’, Sex Roles, 41/5&6: 412–37. Goffman, E. (1979/1974) Gender Advertisements. London: Macmillan. Irigaray, L. (2004/1984) An Ethics of Sexual Difference, C. Burke and G.C. Gill (trans.). London: Continuum. Schroeder, J.E. and Borgerson, J.L. (2005) ‘An ethics of representation for international marketing communication’, International Marketing Review, 22/5: 578–600.


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