Media framing of body burdens: Precautionary consumption and the individualization of risk

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Abstract

The accumulation of chemicals in human bodies and ecosystems represents a universal environmental and technological risk. As yet, little attention has been paid to media coverage of "body burdens," the internal contaminant load carried by most organisms in the industrialized world. Using a sociology of risk perspective, this article analyzes the framing of chemical bioaccumulation in Canadian newspaper articles from 1986 to 2006. In later years, articles employ frames that reinforce an individualization of risk, where individuals are encouraged to avoid contaminants through "precautionary consumption" of green consumer goods. This shift in media discourse suggests that self-protection is emerging as a key frame in the discourse of risk, one that provides a sense of individual control over chemical exposure and shifts the focus away from collective forms of protection from universal risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-149
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Inquiry
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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