15 Pages

Race, Gender, and Status

A Content Analysis of Print Advertisements in Four Popular Magazines
WithMelvin E. Thomas, Linda A. Treiber

This chapter considers the continuation of race–gender stereotypes in advertising images by way of the product’s suggestive messages, specifically, connotations of higher or lower social status and promises of intangible social rewards. The goal of selling products is met by harnessing visual cues that link the material object with a level of social prestige and implicitly promise intangible social rewards (e.g., friendship, beauty, romance), providing a slice of life to consumers. Advertisements link products with status and rewards, targeted to both specific and mass audiences. The chapter hypothesizes that analyzing which race–sex type models a particular status image within a magazine would yield insight into the continued presence of stereotypical assumptions. Life favored affluent images, but Cosmopolitan contained more trendy images than any other magazine. The Black magazines, Ebony and Essence, by contrast, most frequently published everyday images. The chapter demonstrates that magazine advertisements differentially use superficial images when targeting products to women, men, Blacks, and Whites.