The McDonaldization of Race: Racial Representations in McDonald's Television Advertisements

Student Author(s)

Elena Rivera

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Teresa Heinz Housel

Document Type


Event Date



Since its inception in the early 1960's, McDonald's has served as a cultural juggernaut in the United States, influencing everything from childhood development to food consumption patterns. McDonald's is a pop culture phenomenon that has also played a large role in forming cultural and societal norms in the U.S., including the formation of specific ideologies that dominate both institutions and social consciousness. Given the central role McDonald's plays in the U.S., it is important to discover the messages McDonald's is sending. This study will focus on the messages McDonald's is sending about race and race relations in the United States. This study uses a textual analysis of 10-12 McDonald’s television commercials from the presentday (2010-now) to see if the ideologies of race that are present in the commercials support or negate the dominant white ideology found in the U.S. This white dominant ideology in the U.S. is characterized by white superiority and the inferiority of people of color, as well as certain stereotypes associated with specific racial groups. By noting the frequency, the role, and the depiction of people of color in various McDonald's advertisements, I will be able to determine the media messages McDonald's is sending. I anticipate that, although McDonald's has geared much of its recent advertising towards people of color, it will continue to further dominant ideologies about race, and employ stereotypes and marginalization tactics in the television advertisements to reinforce white superiority and the inferiority of people of color.

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