Scholars have long argued that popular consumer culture is both producer and product of social inequality, but few detailed empirical studies have explored the ways that advertising imagery simultaneously constructs stereotypes of race and gender. This article reports on a content analysis of television commercials (n = 1699) aired on programs with high ratings for specific target audiences from 1992 to 1994. Characters in the television commercials enjoy more prominence and exercise more authority if they are White or men. Logistic regression analyses indicate that images of romantic and domestic fulfillment also differ by race and gender, with women and Whites disproportionately shown in family settings and in cross-sex interactions. In general, 1990s television commercials tend to portray White men as powerful, white women as sex objects, African American men as aggressive, and African American women as inconsequential. The authors suggest that these commercial images contribute to the perpetuation of subtle prejudice against African Americans by exaggerating cultural differences and denying positive emotions. Results are discussed in relation to the segmentation of media markets and possibilities for social change.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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