Social Constructs of Obesity

Option 1 invites you to analyze the social construction of a specific mental or physical health problem or issue in some form of media and summarize what you found in your analysis. Your purpose is to reveal the cultural side of the diagnosis/illness, and ideally to continue to explore topics that are of interest to you.

Part 1: Analysis

Your analysis should focus on:

One disease or diagnosis.
One or two forms of media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, advertisements, websites [governmental, NGO, or popular websites are all acceptable])
You must include at least 8 media sources- each of which is relevant to the disease or diagnosis
For example, 8 news stories about obesity
These will be the dataset that you will analyze to reveal the cultural side of diagnosis/illness.
You could compare and contrast portrayals between different sources (e.g., the portrayal by public health organizations [CDC/WHO] vs. the portrayal by the media), but this is optional
As you analyze your data, consider questions like
How does our society portray the illness?
Is the portrayal heavily medicalized?
Does morality play a role in the framing of the disease?
What value judgments are made about the disease/illness?
What purpose does the particular cultural frame serve?
Does the cultural framing reveal any information about inequality in disease/health or who is vulnerable?
Some potentially rich diagnoses/medical experiences to explore are suicide, alcoholism, obesity, ADHD, autism, depression, GID, pregnancy/birth, breast-feeding, fibromyalgia, breast cancer, HIV, sexually-transmitted infections, or erectile dysfunction. Note: you may choose something that isn’t a “diagnosis” or a clear “disease,” but please do choose something that has relevance to health/wellness [if you have an idea but you’re unsure of it, please discuss it with me.]

Part 2: Report

After constructing and analyzing your dataset of cultural media objects, please summarize what you have found. Please include concrete examples from your dataset, like quotes or images from the media, to support your argument. A strong way to start your report would be to discuss why we should care about the social construction of the disease or illness that you are analyzing. Your report should discuss questions like the ones listed above (under analysis).

In your report on your findings, you must reference with in-text citations at least 3 ideas from our course in your report. These “ideas” may be things like social constructionism, cultural health capital, social inequality in healthcare, etc. You must cite the ideas appropriately using formal citation processes, and citations must be to the articles we read and not to my lectures).

Finally, you must include at least 1 citation to out-of-class materials that are relevant to the specific health issue you have chosen and that are academic citations from peer-reviewed scholarly journals or academic publishers in the case of books.

Your submitted project must include:

1. At least 1,250 words reporting what you found that includes in-text citations to at least 4 articles.

2. A reference section or bibliography (properly formatted in ASA, APA, or MLA styles).

3. A summary of your dataset in the form of references or online links to each of the 8 media sources that you analyzed.

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