‘Off to the best start’? : A multimodal critique of breast and formula feeding health promotional discourse

Brookes, Gavin and Harvey, Kevin and Mullany, Louise (2016) ‘Off to the best start’? : A multimodal critique of breast and formula feeding health promotional discourse. Gender and Language, 10 (3). pp. 340-363. ISSN 1747-6321

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This study critically examines the multimodal discourses of baby-feeding practices in contemporary health promotion in the UK. Comparing two parallel texts from the ongoing Start4life campaign (one dedicated to breastfeeding, the other to bottle/formula feeding), our multimodal critical discourse analysis identifies a series of recurring, multisemiotic strategies through which these texts aim to promote breastfeeding as the most desirable, natural and even morally responsible method of infant nutrition. These discursive strategies, we argue, are underpinned and driven by neoliberal assumptions about infant feeding, health and risk, which fail to take into account the structural constraints that affect the take-up of the ‘ideal’ of breastfeeding, all the while propagating unobtainable and often contradictory notions of total motherhood and familial relations - discursive moves that can have negative consequences for the health and wellbeing of new mothers and their infants.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Gender and Language
Additional Information:
©2016, Equinox publishing
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? gender studieslinguistics and languagephilosophylanguage and linguistics ??
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Deposited On:
12 Jul 2018 15:42
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 00:22