`This book appears to fill a substantial gap in the literature at present. There are, quite simply, no books available which engage seriously and competently with the presentation of health issues in the media, and certainly none which focuses on representations of health and illness in as thematically coherent a manner as Seale proposes to do' - Richard Gwyn, University of Cardiff `This is an excellent resource for students. It provides a comprehensive review of secondary literature in the field and is very well researched. Students of sociology of health and illness and in media and communication studies will find the book invaluable' - David Oswell, Goldsmiths College, University of London `This is a comprehensive work on media health, providing an invaluable "toolkit" for understanding health and the media in contemporary society. Seale goes further than previous textbooks, critiquing the "lament" of media health promoters in order to explore the moralisation and commercialisation of media health' - Dr Annette Hill, University of Westminster How are health matters presented by the mass media? How accurate are the messages we are receiving? This book demonstrates how health messages in popular mass media are important influences in our lives, and that they are not neutral, being subject to many determining influences. It demonstrates the importance of mass media for understanding the experience of illness, health and health care, bringing together the latest thinking in the field of media studies and the sociology of health and illness. This book provides a thorough review of research literature on media representations of health, illness and health care, covering their production, characteristic forms and relationships with the everyday lives of media audiences. It brings together both well known and lesser-known studies in the context of an integrated, sociological argument about media and health. Media producers are subject to a variety of influences, from medical lobbies, scientific organizations, and not least the commercial pressure to satisfy media-saturated audiences. These mean that aims of health promoters are not always easily achieved, leading to considerable tensions that require a deeper understanding of media health than has hitherto been applied to them. This book will be essential reading for health educators and promoters, as well as health care providers interested in the cultural aspects of health, sociologists of health and illness, and students and academics of media studies.
Media representations of children involve an intensification of scare-villain themes, juxtaposed with images of the innocence and vulnerability of children, and fuelled by a perception of their extreme social value. In part, the increase of interest in children's lives in advanced Western countries reflects demographic transitions, involving lower rates of infant mortality and lower birth rates generally. In these circumstances, each child is generally expected to survive into adulthood and each parent has fewer children amongst whom to spread emotional and financial investments. (The declining social value of older people in such societies is the concomitant trend, and is reflected in media coverage, as we saw in the last chapter.) Additionally, with declining faith in an afterlife, children's future lives can become ...