'The living death of Alzheimer's' versus 'Take a walk to keep dementia at bay': representations of dementia in print media and carer discourse.pdf (130.15 kB)

'The living death of Alzheimer's' versus 'Take a walk to keep dementia at bay': representations of dementia in print media and carer discourse

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journal contribution
posted on 21.04.2016 by Elizabeth Peel
Understanding dementia is a pressing social challenge. This article draws on the ‘Dementia talking: care conversation and communication’ project which aims to understand how talk about, and to people living with dementia is constructed. In this article I draw on the construction of dementia manifest in two data sets – a corpus of 350 recent UK national newspaper articles and qualitative data derived from in-depth interviews with informal carers. These data were analysed using a thematic discursive approach. A ‘panic-blame’ framework was evident in much of the print media coverage. Dementia was represented in catastrophic terms as a ‘tsunami’ and ‘worse than death’, juxtaposed with coverage of individualistic behavioural change and lifestyle recommendations to ‘stave off’ the condition. Contrary to this media discourse, in carers’ talk there was scant use of hyperbolic metaphor or reference to individual responsibility for dementia, and any corresponding blame and accountability. I argue that the presence of individualistic dementia ‘preventative’ behaviour in media discourse is problematic, especially in comparison to other more ‘controllable’ and treatable chronic conditions. Engagement with, and critique of, the nascent panic-blame cultural context may be fruitful in enhancing positive social change for people diagnosed with dementia and their carers.

Funding

This research was funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (MC110142).

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH & ILLNESS

Volume

36

Issue

6

Pages

885 - 901 (17)

Citation

PEEL, E., 2014. 'The living death of Alzheimer's' versus 'Take a walk to keep dementia at bay': representations of dementia in print media and carer discourse. Sociology of Health & Illness, 36(6), pp. 885-901.

Publisher

© The Author. Published by Wiley

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Publication date

2014

Notes

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Wiley under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

ISSN

0141-9889

Language

en

Licence

Exports