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Understanding “Fairness” in India: Critically Investigating Selected Commercial Videos for Men’s Skin-Lightening Products

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This dissertation investigates a subtle yet complex contemporary issue of colorism in India that traces its ideological roots back in the British colonial period or even prior to that. It focuses on the issue of skin-color discrimination in urban Indian

This dissertation investigates a subtle yet complex contemporary issue of colorism in India that traces its ideological roots back in the British colonial period or even prior to that. It focuses on the issue of skin-color discrimination in urban Indian men, which is significantly under-researched. This project aims at investigating the issue of skin-color discrimination through analyzing a small corpus of thirteen YouTube commercials dating from 2005 to 2017 for men’s skin-lightening products of a popular skin-care brand called “Fair and Handsome” from a multimodal critical discourse analytic perspective. This study further aims to understand how the discourse of colorism is operating in these Indian commercials for men’s skin-lightening products, what kinds of semiotic and socio-cultural (discourse) elements are naturalizing the notion of “fairness,” and finally, how the construction of male gender is facilitated. Although the project’s main theoretical arc is critical discourse analysis (CDA), the methodological needs necessarily require drawing upon theoretical tools from advertisement analysis, multimodal analysis, gender studies, social psychology, history, cultural anthropology, race theory, and other related fields of study. After successfully facilitating an exhaustive analytical undertaking, this dissertation contributes to the understanding of colorism as more than intra-group racism in India and situates this perpetuating issue as a contemporary research target in the socio-cultural contexts of globalization and urbanization.

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2019

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A Content and Discourse Analysis of California's Proposition 22: What it Means for the Future of the Gig Economy

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For this thesis, I analyzed the discourse and content of Proposition 22, a California law which defined all workers utilizing gig-based apps to sell services as independent contractors meaning they were not legally entitled to certain protections such as minimum

For this thesis, I analyzed the discourse and content of Proposition 22, a California law which defined all workers utilizing gig-based apps to sell services as independent contractors meaning they were not legally entitled to certain protections such as minimum wage. The law was overturned in court in 2020, however, the advertisements in favor of and discourse behind the law has had a continued impact on all workers. Because of this it is important to examine and conceptualize the ideologies behind the law in order to understand how it was able to pass in a state which tends to vote in favor of increasing employee rights and regulation of industries. To do so, I utilized two methods of analysis, a discourse analysis of legal documents and a content analysis of advertisements. The former revolves around analyzing the discourse and ideologies around two versions of the legislation which were shown to the public, while the latter analysis categorizes and examines the implications of various advertisements utilized by companies to support the proposition. Ultimately, gig companies created an effective campaign that was able to repackage neoliberal deregulation for the general public while actively misrepresenting information around the law leading to long lasting effects that continue to harm workers while lining the pockets of investors despite its overturning.

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2022-05