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Type: Journal article
Title: 'If you grow them, know them': discursive constructions of the pink ribbon culture of breast cancer in the Australian context
Author: Gibson, A.
Lee, C.
Crabb, S.
Citation: Feminism and Psychology, 2014; 24(4):521-541
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 0959-3535
Statement of
Alexandra Farren Gibson, Christina Lee and Shona Crabb
Abstract: The ‘pink ribbon culture’ dominates understandings of breast cancer in Western societies. We describe this as an ‘illness culture’, consisting of neoliberal discourses and practices, which construct the breast cancer experience. We take a feminist post-structuralist approach to review current breast cancer lay materials available to women in Australia, to examine how breast cancer is discursively constructed within this context. Further, we consider how women with breast cancer are positioned and what the implications are for women’s lives. We discuss neoliberal discourses of ‘individual responsibility and empowerment’ and ‘optimism’, and the central practices that focus on individual health behaviours and survivorship. This illness culture has productive and restrictive effects for women’s subjectivity. Whilst women are positioned as ‘empowered’ regarding their health, this comes at the price of self-regulation and responsibility. Support and information additionally reposition women in feminine, heteronormative ways, whilst excluding women who do not fit narrow cultural stereotypes.
Keywords: breast cancer; neoliberal; discourse; pink ribbon culture; Australia; women’s health
Rights: © The Author(s) 2014
DOI: 10.1177/0959353514548100
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