Content analysis of Men's Health magazine : masculinity and health
Master of Public Health
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"Launched in 1987 as a health-oriented service magazine by founding editor Mark Bricklin, Men's Health has evolved into a lifestyle magazine for men, covering areas such as health, fitness, nutrition, relationships, travel, technology, fashion and finance."--Wikipedia, Nov.5, 2010.How men's health has become an individual project in early 21st century Western society is an area that needs more research. My research looks at analyzing constructions of masculinity in popular media, specifically in Men's Health, a men’s magazine. Issues I examine include body ideals and discourses of men’s health in the social context, including a look at how neo-liberal discourses of individualism impact on the construction of male identities. In the following section, I introduce some of the concepts, theorists, and writings that I will be working with. These materials are necessary for examining men’s health as an individual project, particularly how ideologies of hegemonic masculinity are reproduced in Men's Health, the magazine that my research project examines. Since the 1980s, decreasing dependence on social institutions by making people responsible for their own health became central to the neo-liberal ideologies that shape many of the policies today that impact on health. Kerry Chamberlain (2004) writes: “With the rise of neoliberalism, the creation of the health consumer and the promotion of personal responsibility for health have characterized contemporary health concerns” (p. 471). Health has increasingly become an individual consumer issue, not a social welfare issue. Neo-liberal ideologies affect many aspects of everyday life for neo-liberalism is not just reduced to economics. Henri Giroux, one of many contemporary scholars looking at the effects of neo-liberalism on people’s everyday lives, states: “Neo-liberalism is not simply an economic policy designed to cut government spending, pursue free trade policies, and free market forces from government regulations: it is also a political philosophy and ideology that affects every dimension of social life” (2004, p.52). The media plays an active role in constructing this trend towards individualism and people taking personal responsibility for their health. Also, the media has become an increasingly important source of health information for consumers, who are encouraged to seek out new information and choices. As an example, 56 percent of adults listed magazines as a key source of gaining information about healthy eating (Goode et al., 1995, p.7). Magazines and other media, through the discourses of science, health, beauty and morality that are encoded in them, appeal to and position the consumer in potentially multiple ways (Madden & Chamberlain, 2004), and reader/consumers are encouraged to individualize and be agents in control of their choices.