Media Influences on Social Norms and Health

Topics: Mass media, Black people, White people Pages: 4 (1427 words) Published: March 25, 2013
Media’s Authority on Illness: Messages the Public learn

In today’s culture, the media influences many aspects of daily life. For the purpose of this research the media will encompass television, newspaper, magazines, and internet and the messages learned from these outlets relating to illness. In addition, investigating how people in power authoritative the messages portrayed on the media outlets and the agenda behind the messages. The people or organizations that influence the media have a big impact on the way we learn or feel about illness. Human beings can come to accept most anything that is repeated on the news, published in magazines, and said by people of influence. People in power will include, for the purpose of this argument, those with credentials, self-help “experts”, and funding agencies for specific illnesses. The media and people in power control what the public learns about illness. Moreover, publicizing illness when there is a finical gain or what socio-economic group suffers from the disorder or illness.

According to Brumberg (2000), anorexia nervosa was a relatively unheard of disease until the 1980s. Today it is so commonplace that women will see a friend who has lost weight or looks skinny and refer to her as “looking anorexic.” If this disease was only labeled as anorexia around thirty years ago how did it explode into mainstream culture so quickly? There are a number of different arguments to pose: elite women from Ivy League universities took interest in the topic, the three most popular women’s’ magazines published many stories about the disease, and people of social status died from this disease (Brumberg 2000). Different diverse newspapers became intrigued and jumped on the anorexia bandwagon, even including pictures of gauntly women on the covers claiming outrageously high numbers of women that now have this disease (Brumberg, 2000). It is also important to note that nearly all of the anorexia sufferers were white...

References: McCord, C. & Freeman, H.P. (1990). “Excess Mortality in Harlem.” New England Journal
of Medicine, 322:25 p. 173-177.
Brumberg, J.J. (2000). “Anorexia Nervosa in Context.” Fasting Girls pp. 10-21, 33-42
Armstrong, E., Carpenter, D. & Hojnacki, M.E. (2006). “Whose Deaths Matter? Mortality,
Advocacy, and Attention to Disease in the Mass Media.” Journal of Health Politics
and Law 31:4, pp.729-772.
Barker, K. (2002). “Self-Help Literature and the Making of an Illness Identity: The Case of
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS).” Social Problem 49:3, pp. 279-300.
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