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Stereotypes on the level of macrostructure

Macrostructures could function recursively: the semantic macrostructure of the whole article, which could be summarized as the description of the power of the TV series and consequently of the relevant New York setting (Carrie’s stoop in particular), which as a result attracts numerous visitors, is further specified in eight textual components, whose semantic macrostructures are parallel and stereotypical in nature. These components play the role of arguments supporting the validity of the introductory summary found in the headline, sub-headline and lead; they bring sample stories illustrating and personalizing the general information (on the concept of personalization in mass media, see Fairclough 1995). All the interviewees explain the importance of SATC in their lives and cherish the memory of their journey to New York, in particular of seeing Carrie’s iconic steps. SATC either helped them out of their difficulties or played a special role in their lives, especially by revealing the true value of their friendships, partnerships or self-perception. This feature is held constant; the variability occurs in the concretization of the problem which each of the interviewees managed to solve or the specificity of the positive role played by SATC.

The schematic superstructure corresponds with the recursive character of the semantic macrostructure: on the higher level the formal structuring involves an introduction presented in the article headline and sub-headline, the situation description provided in the leading paragraph, and a set of examples realized in the textual components. On the lower level-that of the textual components-it acquires a repeated pattern of an introduction explaining a personal relation to SATC, the statement of the problem to be solved or of the argument for visiting the SATC setting, the description of the visit, and the conclusion. The variability of this ordering is limited; it consists in occasionally swapping the first two categories. The superstructure is thus held relatively constant, reinforcing the overall effect of the stereotypical character of the article as a whole. The superstructure obviously follows the problem-solution pattern, which is characterized not only as typical of women’s magazines (Mills 1995) but also as a dominant text structure used in communication in general (Winter 1994).

The pragmatic macrostructure pertains to the global function of sequences of speech acts and in a text colony could again be interpreted on two levels. Whereas the lower-level speech acts of the individual textual components function stereotypically as confessions, sharing experiences and personal feelings, the force of the global speech act pertaining to the text colony as a whole can be viewed as advertising the upcoming SATC movie, recommending the thematic tour, and advising (mostly) female readers to seek help with personal problems through TV series and friendship among women. The variability of confessions supports the persuasive impact of the constant-the advice to seek solutions to personal problems in the Sex and the City series, proving the multi-functionality and multi-applicability of the constant. The article as a whole could be viewed as an indirect speech act: explicitly describing the situation and conveying personal experiences but in summary implying a model problem-solving action.

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