Surveilling Women’s Bodies in Pursuit of Fetal Anatomical Normality: Framing Risk and Responsibility in American Print News Coverage of the Zika Virus
Metadata[+] Show full item record
In 2015, the mosquito-borne Zika virus made international news as it spread rapidly across northeastern Brazil. These stories were not fundamentally concerned with Zika virus infection itself. The primary focus of the news coverage in 2015 into 2016 was upon the prenatal transmission of Zika virus due to an association between maternal infection and congenital neurological disorders, specifically microcephaly. For many, scientific and medical literacy and understanding comes from press coverage. As such, it is important to understand risk communication because it can persuade individuals to direct attention and concern towards certain contexts and modify behavior in order to reduce risks. Given this, this thesis discusses the impact of health communication regarding the Zika virus. Specifically, I conducted a paired content and discourse analysis of media frames in order to answer the following broad questions: (1) What threats does Zika pose and to whom? (2) What are the organizational-level responses to Zika?; and (3) What are the suggested individual-level responses and to whom are they oriented. I coded 50 articles from American print news coverage of the Zika virus using seven frames: conflict; uncertainty/new evidence; metaphors; human impact; strategy/action; attribution of individual-level responsibility; and morality. Based on this analysis, I found that the majority (58%) of articles focused on the impacts of Zika on fetal development rather than the impact on human health in general. Yet when journalists construct four primary risk groups (people in general, various categories of women, travelers, and offspring), women are almost twice as likely to be described as victims of a Zika virus infection than fetal or juvenile subjects. Regulatory power is enacted through coercion in the form of approach- or avoidance-based instructions for self-regulation. As anticipated, women are the primary target for both medically-oriented and reproductive instructions, and the majority of these directives are concerned about what women as maternal bodies should or should not do.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Methods -- Results -- Conclusion -- Appendix : list of retrieved articles
M.A. (Master of Arts)