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Alcohol, health and reproduction: an analysis of Swedish public health campaigns against drinking during pregnancy
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2015 (English)In: Critical Discourse Studies, ISSN 1740-5904, E-ISSN 1740-5912, Vol. 12, no 1, 57-77 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes two recent Swedish public health campaigns targeting pregnant women's drinking: A good start, a pamphlet by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, and Advice about food for you who are pregnant, a brochure by the Swedish National Food Administration. It conceptualizes the public health campaigns as governmental attempts to steer citizens' behavior and behavior-related desires, aspirations, and beliefs toward a certain understanding of normal healthy lifestyle. The public health campaigns are seen as part of larger processes of bio-power. By applying critical discourse analysis, the article, first, asks how drinking during pregnancy is represented in the campaigns as a health risk. Second, it analyses how the pamphlets advise women to take action to restrain from drinking during pregnancy and what kind of knowledge the pamphlets use to legitimate intervening in the women's lifestyles. And finally, it analyses how the pamphlets try to persuade the women to identify with the proposed information and recommendations. The analysis shows that the campaigns construct an intimate partnership between the state and the citizen. By extending the medical public health gaze to reach inside the female body to emphasize how easily fetal development can be disturbed, and by making women's individual lifestyle choices both the cause of and solution to potential damage during fetal development, the pamphlets make mothers solely responsible and culpable for the health status of the fetus. Partners and fathers are practically absent from the campaign pamphlets. Both campaigns bypass the responsibilities of communities and other broad social institutions in preventing drinking during pregnancy. The campaigns, though having many similarities, differ from each other in terms of the kinds of choices they have made inrepresentationsaction, and identification.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon: Routledge, 2015. Vol. 12, no 1, 57-77 p.
Keyword [en]
public health campaigns, drinking, advice to pregnant women, governmentality studies, critical discourse analysis
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-112845DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2014.934386ISI: 000350301100004OAI: diva2:781536
Available from: 2015-01-16 Created: 2015-01-16 Last updated: 2015-04-07Bibliographically approved

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Törrönen, JukkaKalle, Tryggvesson
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