The readings of smoking fathers: A reception analysis of tobacco cessation images

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how new fathers decode image-based anti-smoking messages and uncover the extent to which ideals of masculinity might influence men to take up and/or disregard smoking cessation messages. The authors analyzed 5 images that had been used to promote smoking cessation and arrived at a consensus about the dominant discourse encoded by each image. During face-to-face interviews, new fathers were invited to discuss the images; these interview data were coded and analyzed using a social constructionist gender analysis. The study findings highlight how most men negotiated or opposed dominant discourses of health that communicated the dangers of smoking by reproducing dominant ideals of masculinity, including explicit disregard for self-health. They accepted dominant social discourses of fathering that reproduced traditional notions of masculinity, such as the protector and provider. The authors conclude that tobacco interventions targeted to new fathers must (a) develop more awareness of the ability of audiences to select discourses that empower their own interpretive positioning with regard to media, and (b) deconstruct and engage with context and age-specific masculine ideals to avoid providing rationales for continued tobacco use.

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Journal Article

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