Dangerous disease, dangerous women: Health, anxiety and advertising in Shanghai from 1928 to 1937

Cui Yang, Brian G. Southwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advertisements related to health, like other media content, often present a site laden with ideological positions and indicators of prominent theories of social relations. In so far as a society is enmeshed in large-scale structural change and tension, for example, such an arena could be one place to find evidence of anxiety and efforts to define scapegoats. In this discussion, the authors briefly explore advertisements related to sexually transmitted disease that appeared in the Chinese newspaper, Shenbao, during the tumultuous Nationalist period from 1928 to 1937. Fear-based appeals, or approaches that employ words and pictures emphasizing negative consequences or expressing a tone of anxiety, were predominant among advertisements assessed. Moreover, women who worked as commercial sex workers often were depicted as a source of danger and societal instability. This analysis joins a growing body of literature that focuses attention on dimensions of health advertisements and media coverage of health beyond the most explicit, intended effects of specific campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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