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Robyn Muir

Doctoral Researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Robyn is an MRes student within the School of Politics and International Relations. Her MRes Thesis is examining the gendered politics of marketing and merchandising with a focus on the Disney Princess Franchise. Robyn hopes to continue on with this research in the future with a PhD, expanding on the Franchise.

Before her MRes, Robyn completed her Undergraduate Degree in BA (Hons) Politics at the University of Nottingham. During this time, she wrote her undergraduate dissertation on the gender roles presented within the Disney Princess Franchise.

Robyn is associated within the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice and is the founder of Disneypol, a blog dedicated to bringing Disney and politics together which covers various topics from Star Wars to Disney Princesses.

Expertise Summary

  • Feminist theory
  • Constructivist theory
  • Politics of arts and culture
  • Politics of fiction
  • Politics of merchandising and marketing

Research Summary

Research Question: In what way does the Disney Princess Franchise contribute to the social construction of gender?

Since the creation of the Disney Princess Franchise in 2000, the product line has become one of the most popular and marketable assets of the Walt Disney Company. However, over the years many scholars such as Jack Zipes and Kay Stone have spoken at length about the gender roles presented within the Franchise. Unfortunately, the way women have been presented within the Disney Princess Franchise is far from positive; princesses are often passive and dependent on their 'rescuers' (who are often - if not always - men). This huge player within popular culture seems to contribute very little to the empowering of women.

What then, is the actual problem? It has come to light in recent years that women are underrepresented within popular culture, and especially film. The issues of 'token' women, women who are objectified and some films with no female role models at all have been a concern for many activists and scholars within the film industry. With very few positive female role models, who will young girls look up to and aspire to be? Who is it that young girls are most exposed to at a young age? Unfortunately, it is the Disney Princesses, 11 women who despite a few anomalies are not empowering. However, the Walt Disney Company are trying to do something to change this, in February 2016 Disney launched a new campaign: Dream Big Princess, featuring 10 of the 11 princesses and has effectively tried to rebrand the weaker princesses as more empowering and feature more of the previously ignored empowered princesses.

Questions of the models of gender, their feature in the merchandising and their rebranding will be considered in order to explore how this franchise contributes to the social construction of gender, and whether this is achieved in a positive way. These questions will be answered according to each princess featured within the franchise in order to emphasise the differences between them.

Supervisor

Professor Lucy Sargisson

School of Politics and International Relations

Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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