Karin Pittner, Mohamed Beaizak
June 25, 2013
Whereas the representation of women in advertisements has been intensively described and also the representation of men has found some attention during the last decade, couples and families have attracted less interest so far. The influential study by Goffman (1981) serves as a reference point in order to find out whether the representation of men and women has changed in the last decades in advertising in Western culture. It turns out that couples and families are often portrayed in a traditional way, but also the emancipation of women from their traditional role as mothers and housewives is reflected in German advertising. It becomes evident by a comparison with advertisements from journals in Arabic countries, that the representation of the sexes, of couples and families is subject to expectations and norms that are specific to the different cultures. Arabian advertising exhibits a broad range in that it may be completely standardized according to Western norms or is adapted in various degrees to the cultural norms of Arabic countries and Islamic values. While there is a smaller percentage of representations of couples in Arabic advertising, couples are more often portrayed together with children. This shows a close relationship between marriage and parenthood and the higher value of children in Arabic countries. Naked body parts and allusions to sexual relationships occur less often than in German advertising and also a lying body position is avoided. The higher social status of men is reflected in their position in the advertisements. In contrast to German advertising, women are more often represented in their traditional role as housewives and mothers.