Race and Magazine Covers

Table of contents

Race and magazine covers is a sociological issue in the society today. Most magazine covers all over the world today select disproportionately the cast that is featured on their covers. Certain features on the magazine cover also get repeat appearances hence making it an issue in the society today. A magazine cover matters since the individuals that appear on the cover are the ambassadors of commercial appeal, beauty and success.

The impression of the faces projected on the magazine covers has a visceral impact. There is a danger that is presented through diversification of the models in the magazines while the covers remain white as it sends a message of hierarchical beauty standards which suggests that the models of color have their place that is not on the covers of magazines. This paper will use the three major classical sociological theories to explain and explore the race and magazine covers issue.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory was suggested by Karl Marx and it claims that the society is in a state of continuous conflict as a result of competition for the limited resources, (Ritzer et all. 2017). The theory holds that social order is maintained by domination and power and not consensus and conformity. According to Karl Marx in the conflict theory, the individuals that have wealth and power in the society try to hold on to it by all means possible mainly through the oppression of the poor and powerless individuals in the society.

The continuous conflicts in the society drive social change. in conflict theory, power is the control of resources and wealth, politics and the institution that constitute the society and an individual’s social status relative to others within the society. social status is not determined by only class but by the race, gender, culture, sexuality and also religion.

The groups that are associated with race and magazine covers include the models, celebrities in various industries like music, fashion and acting. The group that has historically benefited when it comes to power in race and magazine covers are the white celebrities who appear on the covers. Most magazines use white models as compared to color models however powerful, famous, and wealthy the color model may be, (Schug, et all. 2017 pg. 222).

The ideology associated with the topic of race and magazine cover is colorblindness that is depicted in the society today. the public has to take note of the issue of race and the refusal to take leads people to ignore manifestations of persistent discrimination in the society.

The powerful groups benefit in various ways including the fact that through having constant coverage on covers, they are able to maintain their powerful status in the society easily. the other way that they benefit is that it makes them more powerful in the society. Internalized oppression is where an oppressed group uses methods the group that oppresses them against itself.

It works when a group or individuals recognize a distinct inequality of value when compared to another group of individuals resulting in the desire to be like the more highly valued group. internalized oppression can lead to conflict and discrimination in the group, (Schug, et all. 2017 pg. 222). The color models experience internalized oppression when it comes to race and magazine covers since they receive little credit hence they have a feeling of inferiority thus strive to be like the white models who get coverage on magazine covers.

Structural Functionalism

Structural functionalism is a theory that views the society as a system that is complex whose parts jointly work together to promote stability and solidarity, (Ritzer et all. 2017). Structural functionalism takes a closer look at the society with a focus on social structures which shape the society. the approach looks at the social structures and social functions.

The two functions associated with race and magazine covers include advertising and stability. They are both manifest functions which are deliberately intended to have an effect on the society, (Sherry and Mark 2015 pg. 490-492). The kind of stability that the issue of race and magazine covers offer is where those groups involved identify themselves with certain positions on magazines and accept the positions without having to push for social change.

Symbolic Interaction Theory

Symbolic interactionism is a theory that provides a better understanding of how individuals interact with each other in a bid to create symbolic worlds and the world ends up shaping the behaviors of the individuals, (Ritzer et all. 2017). individuals live in the natural environment and also the symbolic environment. Symbolization in symbolic interactions highlights the processes through which events and conditions, people, and other features in the environment which have particular meanings become almost only objects of orientation. The behavior of individuals is partly contingent on what the object of orientation symbolizes or means.

The three symbols associated with race and magazine covers include style, beauty and celebrity lifestyle. Interactions and language assist in reinforcing the ideas on race and magazine by providing a platform which is easy to understand and relate to each other in the society. interactions and language also help in ensuring that individuals share different views and ideas hence assisting in the modification of ideas related to the issue of race and magazine covers, (Thibaut and John 2017). Cultural ideas related to race and magazine covers are learnt through the reading of popular culture which allows individuals to share their emotions, thoughts and deliberations in the society.


Ritzer, George, and Jeffrey Stepnisky. Modern sociological theory. SAGE Publications, 2017.
Schug, Joanna, Nicholas P. Alt, Philip S. Lu, Monika Gosin, and Jennifer L. Fay. “Gendered race in mass media: Invisibility of Asian men and
Black women in popular magazines.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture 6, no. 3 (2017): 222.
Sherry, Mark. “Fantasies of identification: disability, gender, race.” (2015): 490-492.
Thibaut, John W. The social psychology of groups. Routledge, 2017.

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