Media and reproductive health.<br />How Italian media establish the social reality of the infertility and its social meanings<br />Giovanni Boccia Artieri, Laura Gemini, Roberta Bartoletti, Lella Mazzoli<br />LaRiCA |Advanced Communication Research LabUniversity of Urbino “Carlo Bo” - Italy<br />RN07 Sociologyof Culture: Reality Cpnstructions in the Public Sphere<br />EUROPEAN SOCIETY OR EUROPEAN SOCIETIES?Lisboa, 2-5 Sept 2009<br />
research<br />Several researches conducted from 2004 to now by the LaRiCA in the framework of an Observatory on Infertility as a Social Problem in cooperation with the IstitutoSuperioredellaSanità, the main national institute for research on public health issues in Italy (2008-2009).<br />We present the in progress part of a wider project “Communicating the Reproductive Health”.<br />The object of this part is the system of media as a context producing the communicative reality of the Reproductive health.<br />
research background 1<br /><ul><li> Media system is an environment where the social events are treated as information. Is the place where we can observe the social semantics, that is, all the themes society uses in a specific moment, the meanings giving to things, the memory of what becomes social memory.
Media are therefore the tools of the collective imaginary – and its representations – that is the symbolic heritage that a social system needs in order to communicate, linked to local cultural contexts which determine their meanings. Reproductive health is one of such cases </li></li></ul><li>research background 2<br />the evolution of the media system and the increasing complexity of the whole medial and cultural scenario due to the digital development, the Net and the 2.0 web dynamics<br /><ul><li> convergence and participatory culture
connected public spheres:multiplication of the public sphere (forums, blogs and social networks sites) and connected reality</li></li></ul><li>research goal<br />the reproductive health – as an issue concerning both society and individuals - can be considered as an interesting lens of observation of the way the traditional and grassroots media collaborate to the changing of the public sphere and to produce new forms of representations of society and mutation of the semantics<br />
research methodology<br /><ul><li> analysis of the reproductive health as a theme of the traditional media. Content analysis of the articles of one of the most widespread national newspapers: la Repubblica. (At the moment we have been collecting the articles of some other newspapers). The 373 articles have been selected using a the key word “infertility” and collected in a 1998-2008 time span.
analysis of the grassrootcommunication in relation to the spontaneous contents creation about reproductive health (and in particular about the experience of infertility)</li></li></ul><li>researchdata<br />The selection criteria<br />To the mass media the reality of the reproductive health is first of all a “topical” theme and its “topicality” is demonstrated by the authoritative advice and the expression of opinion by the experts: doctors, scientists, etc. These articles refer to political and legislative dimension, religion (by means of the clergy statements), social dimension (by means of the “odd but true”, habits, common practices, etc.) and scientific dimension. <br />
researchdata<br />we can also find cultural references about attitudes and social behaviours, or to ways of thinking about fertility, witnessed both by expert doctors or sociologists and first-rate witnesses like the Pope.<br />“<br />Not accidentally Papa Wojtyla liked the idea a lot and, during his prolusion, he pointed out how the Institution intends “to find more and more effective solutions, according to the sexual and procreative ethics constantly reaffirmed by the teaching of the Church”. “This new structure – the archbishop ElioSgreccia, chief of the Institute of Bioethic of the Catholic University, explains – can be also an answer to the systems for the contraception adverse to the ecclesial morality, like – the last in chronological order – the day after pills, but not only.<br />”<br />
systems “irritated” by the press <br />researchdata<br /><ul><li>The first relevant context is obviously the health system. In this way the building of scientific news is often linked with a narration: a piece of news is presented as a tale about a single, local case, in everyday life where someone has to face an infertility problem.
The select criterium that often links scientific communication to the narrative form of the articles seems to be the reference to morality</li></li></ul><li>researchdata<br />grassroot communication<br />Women share their stories about infertility, journeys for the assisted procreation, and so on, in order to produce:<br /><ul><li> an useful circuit of information
culture about the topic.</li></li></ul><li>researchdata<br />grassroot communication<br />The reproductive health is treated as culture starting by the single story life. <br />In this way the site tries to guarantee high levels of reflexivity for the ones who read and to allow focusing in a public space their own emotional state about the issue <br />“<br />During my “infertility time” I had to fight against hypocrisy and, let’s say it, against the complete insensitivity of some people who perceived my difficulties to give birth. <br />Within the mamme online forum as well, it came up from the discussion that a lot of infertile women define themselves “envious” for the other “swollen bellies”, forgetting that envy is not a good feeling because it suggests an evil feeling for someone else. A lot of people forget that there are others who are not envious but are just sad for his or her condition. I always felt happy for the other “swollen bellies”, of friends and relatives, but they never believed me, certainly not some relatives of mine (Bianca) <br />”<br />
researchdata<br />grassroot communication<br />Blogs and social network sites allow to show a private point of view on a public place, putting it in an open and not “walled” conversation (like a forum).<br />“<br />So I’m really starting this blog just for myself – for my feelings and to vent about my frustrations about everything going on in my life. I’m so confused about everything. I never ever pictured my life being this way if I had tried to look ahead five years ago…I thought I would either be teaching in my own classroom or home happily raising a family…now I am doing neither and it makes me feel like my life has no purpose or meaning. I am trying to cling to God through all of this, but it gets increasingly harder the further and further we get into all of this infertility stuff. I wouldn’t mind not having a job so much if I could just get pregnant…my life would finally feel like it had some purpose.<br />Blog The Infertility Chronicles <br />”<br />
some conclusions<br />grassroot communication<br /><ul><li> The traditional media develop reflexivity that is the mechanism used by the reader/spectator to know and to relate to the things he gets to know.
At the same time we can find a corresponding informational function of blogs, forums, social networks sites. They are elements of the partecipatory culture which guarantee higher degrees of reflexivity thanks to the conversational opening and the possibility to connect communicative story lives
The public sphere isn’t due only to the operation of the traditional media and their way to build the social meanings in relation to the other social systems (for example religion). The culture about the reproductive health can also be created, and actually it needs it more and more, within those places of the Net where it is possible to observe a communicative empowerment by citizens.</li></li></ul><li>THANK YOU FOR YOUR THE ATTENTION!<br />The Research Team<br />Lella Mazzoli,LaRiCADirector<br />Roberta Bartoletti,LaRiCA senior researcher<br />Giovanni Boccia Artieri,LaRiCA senior researcher<br />Laura Gemini,LaRiCA senior researcher<br />Luca Rossi, LaRiCA junior researcher<br />Lorenzo Giannini, LaRiCA junior researcher<br />Monica Baroni,LaRiCA junior researcher<br />Marina Mengarelli, Osservatorio Sociale Infertilità<br />Giulia Scaravelli, Istituto Superiore Sanità, Director RPMA<br />Paola D’Aloja, Istituto Superiore Sanità<br />Roberta Spoletini, Istituto Superiore Sanità<br />
The Research Site and Weblog<br />http://culturariproduttiva.wordpress.com/<br />