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The human drama of genetics: 'hard' and 'soft' media representations of inherited breast cancer

Henderson, L. and Kitzinger, Jenny ORCID: 1999. The human drama of genetics: 'hard' and 'soft' media representations of inherited breast cancer. Sociology of Health & Illness 21 (5) , pp. 560-578. 10.1111/1467-9566.00173

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This paper examines media coverage of ‘breast cancer genetics’, and explores its implications for public understanding. We present a content analysis of coverage in British newspapers and look at a variety of popular forms, including women’s magazines, television soap opera and radio drama. Genetic/inherited risk receives a great deal of coverage across a wide range of media formats and outlets. Much of this attention has focused on individuals from ‘high risk families’ and dilemmas around prophylactic mastectomies. Through examining media coverage, combined with interviews with media personnel and their sources, we show why this story proved so attractive to the media and highlight the different production values which influence coverage. Finally, we introduce preliminary findings from focus group discussions to demonstrate how such ‘human interest’ framing has engaged audience attention and influenced public understandings. The paper concludes by highlighting the implications for analysing, predicting, and engaging with, media representations of science.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1467-9566
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 08:55

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