Telenovelas play an important role in communicating Latin American issues. Viewers watch and engage with this popular melodramatic medium on a daily basis. As a result, telenovelas are a valuable ritual for Latin Americans. Telenovelas affect how societies view themselves. They expose viewers to social and political issues with the aim of public discourse (Joyce 49; Pastina 165; Pastina et al. “The Centrality” 2). My research explores audience engagement with contemporary Mexican telenovelas, focusing on their views of economic disparity representation, and how those representations impact their understanding of self and society.

To carry out my study, I conducted ethnographic interviews with 13 Mexican telenovela viewers. Questions covered areas including their demographics and education, telenovela viewing habits, and economic disparity indicators. The interviews were analyzed using concepts from scholarly literature on such topics as the movement from serials to telenovelas series, telenovelas’ characteristics, and the Cultivation Theory. I found that while economic disparity is not directly discussed in telenovelas, participants perceived it through fashion, setting, education, and language. Participants noticed that telenovelas contain fragments of Mexican culture, but these fragments are too obscure to be seen as accurate reflections of reality, or in connection to their identities.


Johnson, Michelle


Communication Studies


Mexican telenovelas, economic disparity, audience perceptions, cultural identity

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2017 Brenda Khor