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Women’s Magazines

Women’s magazines have long provoked widespread debate about their impact on women and society. Since the 1960s, both scholarly and popular discussion has largely fallen into three camps. One group of critics sees women’s magazines as single-minded and relentlessly conservative; another sees them as single-minded and unduly liberal; a third sees content as mixed and confusing enough to subvert the interests of their audiences. Whatever their differences, all these debates have understood women readers as essentially passive dupes of publications to which hundreds of millions remain loyal customers worldwide. This entry provides an overview of American women’s magazines as a genre and explores their history, dynamics, and audiences in an effort to explain the ongoing vitality of multiple strains of critique, and offer both archeology ...

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