Fair Skin as Social Capital in Pakistan: Content Analysis of Fairness Advertisements
Author: Afifa Tariq

This study analyses the socially constructed notion of fair skin as beauty and hov societal norms give women social recognition in social networking. This research has borrowed Bourdieu ‘s concept of habitus and capital ln which he explained that how !fair skin gives symbolic benefits in the form of social appraisal and superiority through social and male gaze which helped women to acc11m11late social capital in Pakistan. Social networking and symbolic capital which helped women in marriage prospects ate additional perk s in 1l1i s regard. This study has also explained that how these capita l accumulations create rhetoric of power. This study has analyst this power generation within the context of feminist critical studies. This study has further investigated that how media images/advertisements manifest this power in Pakistan through cultural sing fair skin and whiteness. Qualitative data was taken from three different socio-economic backgrounds (high/middle/low) of Islamabad by using unstructured, semi-structured interviews and Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) and participant observation. To analyses this data thematic analysis was u sed. Content analysis was used to analyses fairness advertisements of both local and branded products in Pakistan. According to the stud y conceptual framework, Bourdieu’s concept of social and symbolic capital was applicable in Pakistani society in upper and middle classes. Women were generating power relations in social networking, job and marriage market as well. Fair skin is seen as pleasurable agency for women in upper class within feminist debate. In middle class this social phenomenon is more visible in marriages as well creating discrimination for dark skin women in match making. However, lower class women ate not found as capital accumulation subjects thro11gb fair skin because of social and financial constraints. These women were not making power relations through fair skin as these women had less self-choice and agency regarding their own bodies. Media and fairness advertisements portrayed the social realities associated with fair skin according to Goffiman’s concept of Hyper-ritualization which included stereotypical narratives regarding gender behaviours and power relations. Supervisor:- Dr. Zulfiqar Ali

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Keywords : Agency, Fair skin, Fairness advertisements, Hyper-ritualization, Male gaze, Social Capital, Social Gaze, Symbolic Capital
Supervisor: Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

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