Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Rhetoric and Professional Communication
Tina A. Coffelt
This two-part study used quantitative and rhetorically-informed framing analysis 1) to ascertain how online magazines and blogs frame breastfeeding and 2) to further analyze whether and how such framed messages perpetuate dominant and divergent ideological stances, thereby complicating infant feeding choices.
In total, 437 articles (n = 201) and posts (n = 236) from three online magazines and three blogs were collected and analyzed in part one. Frequency data indicating the appearance and use of particular content/themes, frame type, frame valence, gain/loss frames, and source type are provided. Chi-square analyses revealed significant differences in publication type (magazine v. blog) for content/theme. Additionally, while both publication types were more likely to use episodic frames than thematic, blogs used episodic frames significantly more often than magazines. Similarly, both more frequently cited non-experts than experts, though magazines cited experts significantly more than did blogs. Finally, results revealed significant differences in frame type and source type by publication title.
Representative examples (n = 6) of the most and least frequently appearing content/themes were selected for the rhetorical framing analysis. The analysis argued that despite quantitative results suggesting more diverse topical coverage and neutral treatment of breastfeeding, authors of articles and posts explicitly and implicitly supported the culturally dominant ideology that breastfeeding supersedes all alternatives (i.e., “breast is best”); for all its challenges and difficulties, breastfeeding is worth it. Consequently, rather than encourage or invite open dialogue, such overt and covert ideological framing effectively forecloses conversation, which then has the potential to breed guilt and shame among mothers.
Overall, this dissertation sought to show that while authors are nearly always well intended and seek to support mothers, the ways in which they word or structure their writing - in terms of how they frame breastfeeding and the ideologies they support – has consequences whether intentional or not. Going forward, authors have a responsibility to further acknowledge variable views is in their writing so as to better reach the whole of their audience instead of unknowingly or unintentionally perpetuating potentially harmful messages and/or ideologies to new mothers who are already vulnerable and facing new and huge challenges.
Raeann R Ritland
Ritland, Raeann R., "Framing and ideology in breastfeeding discourse: A two-part content and rhetorical analysis of online magazine articles and blog posts" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16868.