Breast cancer in Chinese media : privatization, cultural politics and subjectivity

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In the past three decades, China has experienced a profound social transformation, among which the retreat of government from the health care sector and the privatization of health issues is very significant. Chinese people are now required to make their own life choices and to be ‘self-responsible’ in all walks of lives, including their health. Against this general background, this thesis analyses the socio-cultural constructions of breast cancer in post-socialist China. This analysis works as a case study, through which I explore the complex intersection of the market, the government, health professionals and media in post-socialist China. Through textual analysis of media contents and semi-structured interviews, this thesis has uncovered the complex negotiations among various players in producing breast cancer related content. As a result of these negotiations, the prevention and treatment of the disease has been largely constructed as women’s own responsibilities and practices in the media. Since the government is providing less and less necessary financial and personnel support to conduct breast cancer public education, the breast cancer prevention campaign is often appropriated by international and domestic commercial forces alike to further their marketing interests. My analysis reveals two sets of relationships: between the privatization of the material goods and services and the privatization of the self, and between the political economic context of the health care reform and the cultural politics of the construction of breast cancer.
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