Holding death at bay vs. prolonging life: Indexing fatalism and optimism in the ideology of health, genetics, and family history in the U. S. and South Korean media

Soo Jung Hong, Susan Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Media discourse creates and shapes views of personhood, of possibilities, of wellness, and at the same time, these views and beliefs, in their turn, shape media discourse. Broadcasts of health-related edutainment programs and advertisements are rich sources for the discovery of stances concerning health and illness. We examine media discourse in the United States and South Korea, and uncover consistent indexical patterns pointing to overall ideologies of fatalism in the U.S. and optimism in South Korea. Specifically, from an indexicality-based perspective, we identify the patterned ways in which the ideologies of fatalism and optimism are indexed with regard to agency and stance. We provide evidence of the culturally distinct patterns of discourse that construct health and illness in the U.S. and South Korean media. In the U.S., heart disease and cancer are threats, medicines are omnipotent, and physicians, omniscient. “Death” is explicit and medicines and physicians hold it at bay. Korean discourse frames “life” as explicit underscoring efforts by doctors and medicines to prolong and enhance it. Implications associated with public health discourses employing diverse discursive strategies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1935-1959
Number of pages25
JournalQualitative Report
Volume20
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education

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