9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Gender and Gender Challanges in European Health Care Building I, 1E2

Heterosexuality and Gender in HIV Mass Media Public Campaigns

This talk aims to present a research project focusing on the relationship between the gendered societal structures of Portuguese society and mass media public campaigns to prevent the heterosexual transmission of HIV. It hypothesises that multimodal discourses that are part of campaigns play a role in the (re)production of a gendered power system which has a significant negative effect on the influence of campaigns. As a number of studies demonstrate, preventive policies and political and biomedical rationales at work in different stages of the AIDS epidemic worldwide have failed to move beyond rationalist approaches, "the heterosexual matrix" and medical models of the body and human sexuality, to acknowledge and address the social and emotional complexity of heterosexual practices and the diversity of women´s experiences and needs. But how are they being factored into the equation in Portugal?
Theories of gender and of sexuality and contemporary social-cultural studies of advertising, public health and biomedicine provide a set of relevant issues that give direction and coherence to our study, and that we will relate to the picture emerging from our empirical work.
Three focuses map the key sites of meaning making, each requiring a different approach. In the 1st site, we focus on mass media materials of campaigns sponsored by the Portuguese state (2007-2010), that is, on the way linguistic and visual resources are deployed, and on how they work in tandem to construct particular versions of heterosexuality and of representations of their relationships to HIV transmission. The 2nd site involves examining campaigns design: who gets to participate, in what, under what criteria and circumstances; how materials are produced; the labour division involved, the rationales their participants provide; why a particular campaign was launched; campaigns location within larger HIV government-sponsored programs and institutional frameworks and their historical evolution. The 3rd site involves the analysis of the ways in which "audience types" talk about sexuality and relationships, campaigns and about HIV/AIDS, aiming to examine the extent to which discourses of campaigns are accepted and taken up, negotiated, resisted or ignored, and how this talk varies according to the social categories of the targets.