Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Wallace Clement


The main theoretical issue dealt with in this study is the reproduction of capitalism, through romantic fiction for women. The analytical framework is built upon the concept of hegemony, the material and ideological reproduction of society through a combination of consent and coercion. This study examines this process as it applies to a specific phenomena: Harlequin Enterprises, Romances, and readers.

The analysis is based on archival research on Harlequin Enterprises and interviews with company officials. The Harlequin Romances component of the study is based on the content analysis of a random sample or fifty Harlequins. Data on readers are based on company information, readers letters to Harlequin Enterprises, and interviews with twenty-four readers.

The study concludes that Harlequin Enterprises and Harlequin Romances are part of the hegemonic reproduction of capitalism. They maintain and legitimate sex role structure, corporate structure, and class structure, crucial aspects of our society. The study also concludes that women's consumption of Harlequins is best understood as being a part of this same process of hegemony. Their reading is shaped by the structure of their lives, by Harlequin Enterprises, and by Harlequin Romances. The study suggests that further theoretical refinement and empirical research is necessary to explore the possibility that there are various types of readers who interpret and respond to romantic fiction in different ways.

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