Faculty Publications

Title

The "all-american meal": Constructing confidence in the case of BSE

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Agrifood, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, Claims-making, Food safety, Mad cow disease, Moral panic, Social construction

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Illness Crisis and Loss

Volume

13

Issue

2

First Page

95

Last Page

115

Abstract

Using content analysis of newspaper coverage of the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States, we analyze the media's portrayal of the "BSE crisis," from a social constructionist perspective. We identify the salient claims-makers in the dialogue over food safety as it pertains to the discovery of BSE and we examine the content of their claims to reveal their core messages. We find that public definitions and responses to the disease are influenced by claims-makers and claims-making activities. Some actors construct claims of confidence to deny the severity of the disease, while others construct and disseminate claims of risk in the beef commodity chain, while still others diffuse claims of skepticism and uncertainty. These findings offer support for understanding claims-making as shaped by contextual forces. Claims are not made in a vacuum but are given meaning based upon biophysical and socio-cultural contexts. © 2005, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.

Original Publication Date

1-1-2005

DOI of published version

10.1177/105413730501300202

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