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Peddling a semiotics of fear: a critical examination of scare tactics and commercial strategies in public health promotion

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Peddling a semiotics of fear: a critical examination of scare tactics and commercial strategies in public health promotion. / Brookes, Gavin; Harvey, Kevin.

In: Social Semiotics, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2015, p. 57-80.

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@article{d6b72babc0f04ca78581b56ad019487d,
title = "Peddling a semiotics of fear: a critical examination of scare tactics and commercial strategies in public health promotion",
abstract = "In this study, we critically examine the ways in which a nationwide health promotion campaign – the 2013 Diabetes UK/Tesco diabetes campaign, the largest of its kind in the UK – seeks to raise the general public's awareness of Type 2 diabetes. We subject a series of six campaign images (including their layout and accompanying text) to a multimodal discourse analysis, identifying the presence of a range of fear-inducing, stigmatising and commercial strategies, through which the campaign emphasises the dangers of diabetes and advocates personal responsibility for assessing both individual and others' risk of the disease. Specifically, we describe, in multi-semiotic detail, three discursive techniques deployed in the campaign to achieve these ends: (1) the depiction of grief and amplification of diabetes-related danger, (2) the promotion of diabetes risk and localisation of individuals' responsibility for their health and (3) the commercial branding and framing of the Diabetes UK/Tesco partnership – including the promotion of goods and services – as a means of diabetes prevention and management. Our findings raise concerns about the moral legitimacy of using fear-inducing and commercial strategies in order to (effectively) raise public awareness of and responses to Type 2 diabetes, strategies which do little to address the environmental factors which are associated with increasing rates of the disease.",
keywords = "commercialisation of health, diabetes, health promotion, fear and risk, neoliberalism, critical multimodal discourse analysis",
author = "Gavin Brookes and Kevin Harvey",
year = "2015",
doi = "10.1080/10350330.2014.988920",
language = "English",
volume = "25",
pages = "57--80",
journal = "Social Semiotics",
issn = "1035-0330",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "1",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Peddling a semiotics of fear: a critical examination of scare tactics and commercial strategies in public health promotion

AU - Brookes, Gavin

AU - Harvey, Kevin

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - In this study, we critically examine the ways in which a nationwide health promotion campaign – the 2013 Diabetes UK/Tesco diabetes campaign, the largest of its kind in the UK – seeks to raise the general public's awareness of Type 2 diabetes. We subject a series of six campaign images (including their layout and accompanying text) to a multimodal discourse analysis, identifying the presence of a range of fear-inducing, stigmatising and commercial strategies, through which the campaign emphasises the dangers of diabetes and advocates personal responsibility for assessing both individual and others' risk of the disease. Specifically, we describe, in multi-semiotic detail, three discursive techniques deployed in the campaign to achieve these ends: (1) the depiction of grief and amplification of diabetes-related danger, (2) the promotion of diabetes risk and localisation of individuals' responsibility for their health and (3) the commercial branding and framing of the Diabetes UK/Tesco partnership – including the promotion of goods and services – as a means of diabetes prevention and management. Our findings raise concerns about the moral legitimacy of using fear-inducing and commercial strategies in order to (effectively) raise public awareness of and responses to Type 2 diabetes, strategies which do little to address the environmental factors which are associated with increasing rates of the disease.

AB - In this study, we critically examine the ways in which a nationwide health promotion campaign – the 2013 Diabetes UK/Tesco diabetes campaign, the largest of its kind in the UK – seeks to raise the general public's awareness of Type 2 diabetes. We subject a series of six campaign images (including their layout and accompanying text) to a multimodal discourse analysis, identifying the presence of a range of fear-inducing, stigmatising and commercial strategies, through which the campaign emphasises the dangers of diabetes and advocates personal responsibility for assessing both individual and others' risk of the disease. Specifically, we describe, in multi-semiotic detail, three discursive techniques deployed in the campaign to achieve these ends: (1) the depiction of grief and amplification of diabetes-related danger, (2) the promotion of diabetes risk and localisation of individuals' responsibility for their health and (3) the commercial branding and framing of the Diabetes UK/Tesco partnership – including the promotion of goods and services – as a means of diabetes prevention and management. Our findings raise concerns about the moral legitimacy of using fear-inducing and commercial strategies in order to (effectively) raise public awareness of and responses to Type 2 diabetes, strategies which do little to address the environmental factors which are associated with increasing rates of the disease.

KW - commercialisation of health

KW - diabetes

KW - health promotion

KW - fear and risk

KW - neoliberalism

KW - critical multimodal discourse analysis

U2 - 10.1080/10350330.2014.988920

DO - 10.1080/10350330.2014.988920

M3 - Journal article

VL - 25

SP - 57

EP - 80

JO - Social Semiotics

JF - Social Semiotics

SN - 1035-0330

IS - 1

ER -