Shelf Love

Pop Culture Association 2021 Presentation: Romance Reader Stereotypes: Will Bridgerton Change Popular Perceptions About Romance Novels?

Jun 27, 2021

When Bridgerton, a romance novel adaptation, was released as a bingeable Shondaland Netflix spectacular, I observed that the massive success also led some to believe that newfound respect for the romance genre would follow alongside an influx of new readers.

But...will it? To answer that question, first I needed to understand the nature of the romance novel stereotype (using Stereotype Content Model - Fiske, et al) and gather a bunch of data!

This presentation was originally presented at the Popular Culture Association 2021 Conference, in the romance section.

Watch on YouTube!

Citations for information within my presentation

Looking for my citations, you romance nerd? I love it and you know I can hook you up!

Bridgerton factoids:

Previous Social Science romance scholarship:

The “Media Romance”:

Stereotypes embody a societal consensus, a collective belief system (Stangor & Shaller, 1996).

“I believe in the context of leisure activities like reading, perceived cultural class becomes most salient, with class markers correlating to status.”

“Vassiliki Veros recently wrote about how dismissive librarian attitudes of romance leads to its marginalization in libraries as well.”

“Dan Ariely explains how behavior change requires addressing motivation and friction.”

“Leon Festinger developed a theory of cognitive dissonance to explain how attitudes interact with behavior.”

“Kim Pettigrew Brackett covers two stigma coping mechanisms employed by romance readers...”

“…based on Erving Goffman’s Stigma framework…”

“…and these correlate to the 2 coping mechanisms Festinger identified in his work on Cognitive Dissonance.”

SCM Studies:

“Diverging from previous social psychology research on stereotypes, which believed they were a binary, SCM identified that most stereotypes are complex and ambivalent, with a smaller percentage of groups categorized as pure antipathy.”

“Previous SCM research found that stereotypes about women tend to bifurcate into ambivalent stereotypes based on perceived competition with men for resources, and level of cooperation within the socially-dominant heterosexual family unit. I would characterize this split as having cultural class implications, not just gender.”

The predicted behavior towards this group is active facilitation/passive harm.

SCM Reference points on the XY axis alongside my data: