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Health awareness as genre: the exigence of preparedness in cancer awareness campaigns and critical-illness insurance marketing

Abstract

Dominant understandings of genre-as-form have limited our abilities to perceive health awareness: we recognise, and expect, health awareness campaigns from governmental and non-profit agencies. Inversely, we often fail to recognise, or name, health awareness as such when it comes from other sources, such as commercial marketing or advertisements for products. However, rhetorical genre theory centres attention on action brought about by form and, as such, rhetorical genre provides tools for recognising instances of health awareness often escape our notice. One such example is critical-illness insurance marketing. In this article, I argue that critical-illness insurance marketing draws on the same appeals found in cancer awareness campaigns. Through a comparative analysis, I show that Colorectal Cancer Canada and critical-illness insurance marketing represent unpreparedness, rather than cancer, as the exigence, or the problem to be overcome through public discourse, and as such, share a genre of what I call ‘health awareness as preparedness’.

  • rhetoric of bioethics
  • popular media
  • public health

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