The Intrusion of Value Change: Mass Media and Feminist Attitudes in Argentina (with Elias Dinas)

Every so often, societies see new values enter the public domain, gain support and convert from being marginal to mainstream. What explain these value shifts? Existing work suggests that value change happens gradually, via cohort replacement. This view comes at odds with, however, a growing realisation of rather abrupt patterns of change, which give room within a short period to new moral and social paradigms. What accounts for such a quick turn in social values? We address this question by looking at how a specific ideology, feminism, can enter the public fray. How can public perceptions about feminism, and attitudes towards women more generally, change? To answer this question we point to the role of media in successfully transmitting new value benchmarks. We make use of Intrusos en el Espectaculo, a daytime entertainment show running for twenty years in Argentina, which, unexpectedly and unlike its media peers, dedicated an entire week to informing its viewers on feminism and abortion instead of celebrities’ latest gossip. As feminist activists passed through their screens, we argue that Intrusos paved the way for the destigmatization and legitimacy of Argentinian women’s movement into households otherwise difficult to reach. We look at Google trends, Twitter data, and survey data from Latinobarometro to assess the Intrusos effect on attitudes about gender roles in Argentina.