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May 29, 2014

GWU student interviews author Ivy Ken about her article for Social Currents' second issue, "A Healthy Bottom Line: Obese Children, A Pacified Public, and Corporate Legitimacy."

Abstract: Corporations rarely prioritize healthy communities over healthy profit margins, but their profits depend on community acceptance. This article reveals that in their quest to be perceived as legitimate citizens, some corporations co-opt the rhetorical tactics typically associated with social movement organizations to frame their profit-maximizing practices as the solution to the problem of childhood obesity. In this framing, explored here in an ethnography of the activities of two organizations called the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, obesity is the result of communities’ failure to work together and the cumulative effect of individuals’ bad choices. By framing corporations as vital community partners poised to “work together” across sectors to solve the childhood obesity “crisis,” these organizations hope to inspire the public to participate in this imagined community in one predominant way: by buying their products. Despite the apparent power and reach of their framing, though, these corporations implicitly acknowledge that they are not and cannot be legitimate members of communities unless the public lets them.

Read the article here.


Posted May 2014.