Social Movements and the Transformation of American Health Care

By Jane C. Banaszak-Holl; Sandra R. Levitsky et al. | Go to book overview

17
Framing Hazards in the Health Arena:
The Cases of Obesity, Work-Related Illnesses,
and Human Egg Donation

David A. Snow and Roberta G. Lessor

The resolution of health-related problems is almost always, short of raw-boned coercion or appeals to divine intervention, contingent on some joint, cooperative action involving at least two or more individuals working together to deal with the designated problem. It may be preventative, in the case of an individual receiving Hepatitis A or B shots before traveling to certain parts of the world, or it may be corrective, in the case of an individual securing a prescription of some variant of Cipro for diarrhea or a urinary tract infection. In both instances, the problem-resolution effort involves people working cooperatively—a physician, nurse, and patient in the first case, and a physician, druggist, and patient in the second. Such cooperative action is contingent on a number of factors, not the least of which is a shared understanding of what the issue or problem is and agreement as to what should be done to remedy it. In other words, in the language of the framing perspective associated with the study of social movements, such joint action requires, among other things, shared diagnostic and prognostic frames, or the willingness of some actors to accede to the framings of other actors because of their presumed expertise or authority, and sufficient motivation for all actors to act in concert. We would argue that shared frames, or what has been called frame alignment, is a necessary condition for dealing with health-related issues and problems institutionally, nationally, and globally. But achieving such frame alignment and acting accordingly are no small tasks, as they are often the shoals upon which medical and health care initiatives and interventions become stuck and falter. Consider, for example, the Surgeon General’s ongoing efforts to curtail smoking by highlighting how it “increases the risk of lung cancer” in contrast to the cigarette industry’s framing smoking as “pleasurable.”

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