Framing disease: The avian influenza pandemic in Australia

Abeysinghe, Sudeepa; White, Kevin
September 2010
Health Sociology Review;Sep2010, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p369
Academic Journal
Since 2003, avian influenza has recently spread around the world sparking fears of a potential pandemic. As a result of this, a range of explanations and expectations surrounding the phenomenon were generated. Such social representations of disease depict the issue under discussion and frame reactions to the event. This paper explores the social representations surrounding avian influenza in Australia. Methodologically, a textual analysis of media and government documents was conducted in order to uncover the social representations implicit in these accounts. This demonstrated a symbolic framing of avian influenza with reference to the Spanish Influenza pandemic (1918). Analytically, the study draws upon the concepts of social representations from Durkheim and of risk and symbolic risk in the work of Beck. Overall, it is argued that the framing of avian influenza as a risk, mediated through the collective memory of Spanish Influenza, characterised the nature of the social representations surrounding the phenomenon. This resulted in the production of symbolic solutions to the threat.


Related Articles

  • Keeping sight of the domestic 'flu threat. Pollard, Tom // British Journal of Community Nursing;Nov2005, Vol. 10 Issue 11, p491 

    The article comments on British media and government treatment of the threat of bird flu from Southeast Asia, and on the need for preparedness on the part of health professionals. The danger posed by influenza strain H5N1 is genuine and imminent. Media, if unchallenged by government, will be...

  • FAFfing about. Delamothe, Tony // BMJ: British Medical Journal (International Edition);6/30/2007, Vol. 334 Issue 7608, p1328 

    This editorial examines the bird flu and all the media attention that said it would be the next killer epidemic. For some reason the H5N1 strain of influenza is proving resistant to undergoing the mutation that would permit human to human transmission. So far it has killed just 191 people. A...

  • Crying wolf?  // New Scientist;5/13/2006, Vol. 190 Issue 2551, p3 

    The article focuses on rumors related to bird flu pandemic around the world. Clamour in the world's media about the threat of H5N1 bird flu had been building up for months, and reached a climax when the virus arrived in western Europe. Now those stories are giving way to talk of scaremongering....

  • Will we get it right this time? Broom, Hugh // Farmers Weekly;11/4/2005, Vol. 143 Issue 19, p40 

    Focuses on news about bird flu disease outbreaks. Reaction of the media to the issue; Effect of the ban on birds at markets on businesses; Need for vigilance and planning in the agricultural industry.

  • H5N1 Virus: Crisis For Egypt?  // Egypt Tourism Report;Q4 2008, p30 

    The article questions whether the H5N1 bird flu virus will pose a threat to the tourism industry of Egypt in the fourth quarter of 2008. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) as of July, confirmed 22 human deaths caused by the H5N1 virus, the majority of which had been women and girls....

  • Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.  // Weekly Epidemiological Record;4/7/2006, Vol. 81 Issue 14, p129 

    The article presents the fact sheet of avian influenza in April 2006. The disease is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in 2003 began in South-East Asia were the largest and most severe. It...

  • IS BIRD FLU OVERHYPED? Weil, Andrew // Time;1/23/2006, Vol. 167 Issue 4, p70 

    The article argues that warnings about the avian flu may be unfounded. The flu has not yet mutated to a form that allows for easy person-to-person contagion. Even if the virus does mutate, new findings have shown that some people may experience asymptomatic infections. Medical knowledge has...

  • Television exposure is related to fear of avian flu, an Ecological Study across 23 member states of the European Union. Van den Bulck, Jan; Custers, Kathleen // European Journal of Public Health;Aug2009, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p370 

    Background: A pandemic outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza is believed to coincide with large-scale panic. Even without an outbreak fear of infection may be widespread. Mass media coverage of the risks of a pandemic may lead to higher levels of fear. Methods: An ecological study looked at data from...

  • Internal communications for the avian flu: Anticipating effects on lives and livelihoods. Mercer, Laura; Kapcio, Peter // Public Relations Tactics;Jul2006, Vol. 13 Issue 7, p20 

    The article advises corporations on crisis communication in the event of an avian flu pandemic. The four major keys to effective crisis communication are quickly addressing concerns and questions, frequently updating information, immediately responding to important issues and being...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics