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Women, weddings, and popular culture: An intertextual analysis of college women's negotiation of the wedding -industrial complex

Karen L Daas, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study examines the web of meaning surrounding weddings for college women in U.S. culture. This study engages a reception and experience approach to cultural studies research, drawing on semiotic analysis, narrative theory, and qualitative interviewing to analyze mediated representations of weddings and college women's communicative negotiation of these representations with their everyday lives. Bridal magazines and the popular daytime television show A Wedding Story were the representative mediated texts analyzed in this study. Seven focus groups of college women were interviewed to examine how women read and communicatively negotiate these mediated texts, resulting in transcribed data that were analyzed thematically. Bridal magazines and A Wedding Story construct weddings as the ultimate destination for women. These mediated texts convey an idealized vision of love that privileges the identity of bride as a marker of success for women. These texts also explicitly connect the successful execution of a wedding with the consumption of particular goods and services including engagement rings and wedding gowns. Taken together, these texts construct a lifestyle advertisement for weddings that is dependent on consumption. Focus group participants articulated little resistance to the mediated representations of weddings or the need for consumption in the wedding ritual. In some cases, participants engaged in qualified resistance by critiquing superficial aspects of weddings such as extravagance in gowns or location while still reifying the need to have a wedding to complete a woman's identity. This study contributes to cultural studies literature by providing insight into the cultural meanings surrounding weddings, particularly as they are understood by college women. The importance of this study is that it examines the intersection of women, weddings, and popular culture by analyzing the intertextuality of mediated representations of weddings and women's negotiation of these meanings with their everyday lives. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Speech Communication|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Daas, Karen L, "Women, weddings, and popular culture: An intertextual analysis of college women's negotiation of the wedding -industrial complex" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3167455.