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Soc Sci Med. 2007 Oct;65(8):1606-18. Epub 2007 Jul 12.

Governing the healthy male citizen: men, masculinity and popular health in Men's Health magazine.

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University of Teesside, School of Health and Social Care, Borough Road, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA, UK.


Recent commentators have noted the potential of newer neo-liberal discourses of health care to position responsibility for the management of well-being with the individual. Often promoted through the inculcation of risk avoidance and management, such discourses are played out in myriad settings, including the popular media. Magazines are one such media site in which diverse exhortations for the achievement of health, well-being and the perfectible body are made, and Bunton [1997. Popular health, advanced liberalism and good housekeeping magazine. In A. Petersen & Bunton R. (Eds.) Foucault, health and medicine (pp. 223-247). London: Routledge] has identified 'magazine medicine' as a significant manifestation of more dedifferentiated models of health care. Recent discussions have placed men's health high on research and policy agendas, with a concomitant interest in more popular realms. The UK magazine Men's Health (MH) is indicative of these trends, and represents a site at which discourses of men, health and masculinity are constructed. Typically reflecting neo-liberal models of health, here men are constructed as active and entrepreneurial citizens able to maintain their own health and well-being through the judicious management of risk in contexts appropriate to dominant discourses of hegemonic masculinity. Data which resulted from a critical discourse analysis of a 2-year sample (21 issues) of MH are considered and findings related to medicalisation, individualisation and risk discussed. It is suggested that magazine texts such as MH reflect newer individualised models of health care and neo-liberal strategies of health governance premised upon constructing a healthy male citizen, willing and able to take responsibility for their own well-being.

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