Sunday, September 6, 2009

Racial Ideology, Model Minorities, and the "Not-So-Silent Parner"

By Byeong Woon Hwang

The article investigates stereotypes of Asian Americans in the media, especially in the U.S. magazine advertisements, by surveying several magazines and enumerating statistically how Asian Americans and other minorities such as African Americans and Latinos are portrayed in the magazine advertising. Before analyzing, the article provides background knowledge about racial ideology, Asian Americans, and the model minority stereotypes. Ideology means “a system of beliefs that blend various discourses to reinforce and reproduce assumptions about individuals.” Ideology of a dominant group is usually transmitted through the mass media and it also contributes to set the images of a race. Racial ideology represents notions and beliefs about a race. Model minority images stand for a number of good things of the Asian American such as academic excellence, proficiency in technology, and affluence. Both statistical and textual methods are used for the analysis.

In the statistical analysis, the samples were drawn from the mainstream news magazines that target the general public. Out of randomly selected 526 ads, 10.3% include Asian American models, 17.7% African Americans, 8.0% Latinos. African Americans and Latino models tend to play a minor or background role (66.7% and 75.7% each). On the other hand, less Asian American models tend to play that kind of role (57.1%). When it comes to occupation, the difference is much clearer. Asian models are usually professionals, technicians, and business people (Top3 frequency). African and Latino models are businessmen and technicians as well, but they are often represented as athletes and blue-collar workers.

In the textual analysis, the article analyses some examples and aspects of the Asian American stereotyping from actual advertisements of various magazines. The aspects can be abbreviated like follows: Financial success, technologically savvy, academic excellence, gender dynamics, racial hierarchy, exceptions to model minority, identity crisis, glass ceilings and exploitation and exacerbating social conflicts in racial relations. Then the article concludes that it would be possible to get better understanding of how the mass media perpetuates the stereotype of minority groups by demonstrating how the racial ideology is depicted in the media.


Paek H.J. & Shah H., 2003, 'Racial Ideology, Model Minorities, and the "Not-So-Silent Partner:" Stereotyping of Asian Americans in U.S. Magazine advertising', Howard Journal of Communications, 14:4, 225 — 243

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