The Sign of the Burger: McDonald's and the Culture of Power

The Sign of the Burger: McDonald's and the Culture of Power

by Joe Kincheloe
     
 

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"I didn't want to remain a hick from the mountains... In my cultural naivete I saw McDonald's as a place somehow where modern culture capital could be dispensed. Keeping these memories in mind as years later I monitored scores of conversations about the Golden Arches in the late 1990's, it became apparent that McDonald's is still considered a marker
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Overview

"I didn't want to remain a hick from the mountains... In my cultural naivete I saw McDonald's as a place somehow where modern culture capital could be dispensed. Keeping these memories in mind as years later I monitored scores of conversations about the Golden Arches in the late 1990's, it became apparent that McDonald's is still considered a marker of a modern identity."

So begins a complicated journey into the power of one of the most recognizable signs of American capitalism: The Golden Arches. The Sign of the Burger examines how McDonald's captures our imagination: as a shorthand for explaining the power of American culture; as a symbol of the strength of consumerism; as a bellwether for the condition of labor in a globalized economy; and often, for better or worse, a powerful educational tool that often defines the nature of culture for hundreds of millions the world over.

While many books have offered simple complaints of the power of McDonald's, Joe Kincheloe explores the real ways McDonald's affects us. We see him as a young boy in Appalachia, watching the Golden Arches going up as the—hopeful—arrival of the modern into his rural world. And we travel with him around the world to see how this approach of the modern affects other people, either through excitement or through attempts at resisting McDonald's power, often in unfortunate ways. Through it all, Kincheloe makes clear, with lucidity and depth, the fact that McDonald's growth will in many ways determine both the nature of accepting and protesting its ever-expanding presence in our global world.

Author Biography: Joe L. Kincheloe is Professor of Education at Brooklyn College, and is co-editor, most recently, of Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In addition to being at the center of the fast-food industry, McDonald's seems to have become something of a publishing phenomenon. Hard on the heels of Jennifer Talwar's Fast Food, Fast Track and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal comes this offering from Kincheloe (education, Brooklyn Coll.; coeditor, Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood). While Talwar considered the local, positive aspects of employment at McDonald's for ambitious immigrants, Kincheloe returns to the Evil Empire theme: McDonald's is a poor but extremely powerful symbol of American culture abroad. This is, of course, not a new argument, and Kincheloe's unpolished writing style and tendency toward broad generalizations (McDonald's seems to be a catchall for everything that is bad about America) are sophomoric. The only whopper here is the price. Not recommended.-Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566399326
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
04/28/2002
Series:
Labor In Crisis Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.70(d)

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