Scare tactics, ordinary consequences, and parental advice: the individualization of social problems in television anti-drug commercials
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Much research examines how drugs are socially constructed at the broad macro level, such as how certain drugs are associated with stigmatized minority populations or how drug use is individualized among "bad apples." This paper explores how drugs are portrayed as a social problem through anti-drug public service announcements (PSAs). After examining 103 PSAs, I developed a grounded thematic analysis of the common frames and explored the implications of these frames. The causes of drug use, consequences of drug use, and strategies used to instill anti-drug attitudes and practices are explored. Television anti-drug PSAs rhetorically restructure drug use as an individualized social problem resulting from bad decisions. Consequences of drug use range from extreme types, which are depicted using fear tactics, and mundane types of outcomes, which appear more realistic. Changing themes are explored regarding ways of curbing drug use. Finally, the different types of advice offered to parents of different racial and ethnic groups are explored.
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