Contested Meanings about Body, Health, and Weight: Frame Resonance, Strategies of Action, and the Uses of Culture
Committee ChairBergesen, Albert
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThere has been much talk in the public arena about the meanings of the overweight body. While feminist scholars have long theorized and studied the oppressive effects of hegemonic beauty norms, in recent years several groups such as the Centers for Disease Control, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (a non-profit fat acceptance organization), and the Center for Consumer Freedom (a non-profit organization representing the food industry), have stepped up claims-making about the fat body and what it represents. How are these competing cultural messages promulgated by these cultural producers? Do these messages resonate with individuals? Moreover, how meaningful are these cultural messages in shaping day to day lives?Using content/frame analysis, survey data (n=456), and in-depth qualitative interviews (n=42), my dissertation examines framing competitions and dynamics among four competing cultural frames about the overweight body (the health frame, beauty frame, market choice frame, and social justice frame). I also examine the relationship between these cultural frames and individual agents. Specifically, I look at how respondents use culture by accepting, redefining, and rejecting elements of various frames. In my dissertation, I elaborate on my empirical findings and theoretical developments about health, beauty, individual and corporate responsibility, and social justice; the relationship between culture and agents; policy implications; and directions for future research.