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

Brookes, Gavin and Harvey, Kevin (2015) Peddling a semiotics of fear: a critical examination of scare tactics and commercial strategies in public health promotion. Social Semiotics, 25 (1). pp. 57-80. ISSN 1470-1219

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Abstract

This study critically examines the ways in which the nationwide Diabetes UK/Tesco public health promotion campaign (2013-2014) sought to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes. Conducting a multimodal critical discourse analysis of six campaign images, we identify the presence 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, three discursive techniques are deployed in this campaign to achieve these ends: (1) the depiction of grief and amplification of diabetes-related danger, (2) the promotion of diabetes risk and responsibilization of individuals for their health, and (3) the commercial branding and framing of the Diabetes UK/Tesco partnership as providing tools for diabetes prevention and management. Our findings raise concerns about the moral legitimacy of using fear-inducing and commercial strategies in public health campaigns, strategies which do little to address the environmental factors which are associated with increasing rates of the disease.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Social Semiotics on 2015 (online 13 Dec 2014), available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10350330.2014.988920
Keywords: commercialisation of health, diabetes, health promotion, fear and risk, neoliberalism, critical multimodal discourse analysis
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2014.988920
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2016 08:41
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 04:46
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/32617

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