Daisy Hadley (Bath Spa University) | June 2023
This work is one of two 2023 winners of our Centre for Media Research Student Award, a special prize awarded to a final-year Media Communications student. This work stems from the Media Communications Final Project, a module which asks students to embark on a challenge-led research project, the insights from which are disseminated as a cross-platform communications campaign for a real audience. The winner of the award is invited to publish both their background research alongside their creative campaign as a journal article.
What follows is a short walkthrough video of both the research and the campaign, followed by a detailed presentation of the work in full - the Research Portfolio and the Campaign.
The idealisation and romanticisation of motherhood in contemporary culture has adverse effects on women who reject the expectations of femininity and chose not to have children. Voluntarily childfree women who abandon the long-standing expectation of womanhood that equates the destiny of adult femininity with childbearing are routinely stigmatised and stereotyped in popular media and contemporary culture.
Intertwined with pronatalist ideology that professes ‘all capable couples should have children’, problematic representations are directly linked to contemporary gender debates whereby women who reject their structurally subordinate position in society of housewife and mother are pathologised. It is no secret that popular culture houses discourses that maintain dominant ideologies and the status quo that impact norms, mass understanding, social policy, and the structures of contemporary society; pronatalist ideology is not immune to this effect. As a result, voluntarily childfree women face interrogation, judgment, lower socio-economic status, poorer social support and mental
health and inequality in the workplace and the medial field.
To challenge the damming stereotypes that maintain their adversity would not only work to make the world more understanding, accepting, and welcoming of voluntarily childfree women, but work to mirror second-wave feminist agenda that seeks to dismantle traditional sex roles that dictate all women are destined to become mothers. In this campaign plan, I will be drawing on research methods such as discourse analysis, online ethnography, surveys, and content analysis to achieve a diverse and representative picture of the disparities between the representation and lived experience of voluntarily childfree women.
To begin this year-long project, the Research Portfolio serves to captures a substantial amount of background research into the topic in order to develop new insights that can be shared as a communications campaign targeted towards the relevant industry audience.
Click through below to read all of the background research that informed this campaign, including academic insights and a full campaign plan complete with brand mock-ups.
You can also download the complete Research Portfolio below.
The following Communications Campaign took all of the research, insights and campaign plans from the above Research Portfolio and disseminated this work as a large-scale cross-platform campaign, one that was also evaluated to assess it impact on real audiences.
Drama and Performance Lesson Plan
A final step for the project was to implement a systematic evaluation of the campaign, such as social media engagements, data analytics and audience responses, in order to understand the reach and impact of the campaign. Below is a snapshot of the results and learnings.