University of Tasmania
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Standing out from the crowd : a study of frankie magazine, niche branding, and alternative femininities

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:04 authored by Hunt, RJL
In the digital age, print media is said to be in decline. At the same time, the genre of women's magazines has been subject to escalating critique for its practices of production and representation. In this context, an Australian 'indie' niche magazine for young women has achieved remarkable success. Launched in 2004 by an independent publisher, frankie magazine now has circulation figures that outdo established glossy women's titles such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue Australia. The magazine has received multiple industry accolades, and in 2014 its publisher was sold for a reported $10 million figure. This thesis employs a combination of industry study and textual analysis in order to examine frankie magazine's success, which is notable when compared with other niche titles. The thesis is concerned in particular with the gendered dimensions of the magazine, given the focus in lifestyle magazine scholarship on gender as the central 'problem' of magazine texts. To this end, the thesis explores ways in which frankie magazine and its production are discursively constructed in opposition to mainstream women's magazines, and identifies potentially subversive gender manoeuvres‚ÄövÑvp (Schippers 2002) in the text. However, the analysis also highlights ways in which frankie and its production can be thought of as distinctly 'mainstream'. The thesis argues that frankie has been successful because it balances an appealing textual subversiveness with conventional production practices, thereby allowing it to both signify an 'alternative' identity and occupy a lucrative position within the mainstream market. This is significant because it suggests there is room for subversiveness within a genre that has typically been thought of as inherently conservative, and indicates that alternative representations of femininity can have mainstream appeal. At the same time, this thesis demonstrates continuities between frankie and the conventional women's magazine industry, both in terms of production practices and the pervasiveness of gendered representations in which white, middleclass femininities are most visible. This thesis contributes an analysis of a contemporary magazine and its production to the field of women's magazine studies, in which studies of the industry contexts and dynamics informing magazine texts have previously been underrepresented.


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