This article is a revised version of the plenary lecture delivered at the Anglo-American Conference of Historians on ‘Communications’, University of London, 3 July 2008. An earlier version was published in the American Journal of Public Health and the material is drawn upon in V. Berridge, Marketing Health: Smoking and the Discourse of Public Health in Britain, 1945–2000 (Oxford, 2007). I am grateful to the Wellcome Trust for their support for the research on which this article is based.
Medicine, public health and the media in Britain from the nineteen-fifties to the nineteen-seventies*
Article first published online: 19 JAN 2009
© Institute of Historical Research 2009
Volume 82, Issue 216, pages 360–373, May 2009
How to Cite
Berridge, V. (2009), Medicine, public health and the media in Britain from the nineteen-fifties to the nineteen-seventies. Historical Research, 82: 360–373. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2281.2008.00489.x
- Issue published online: 3 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 19 JAN 2009
Health campaigns now use striking visual and verbal imagery and the full resources of the mass media to advocate change in individual lifestyle. Politicians also advocate behaviour change. The origin of this approach lay in the post-war decades with the rise of a new style of public health underpinned by chronic disease epidemiology. In stressing individual responsibility for good health, it reconfigured what citizenship and health were about. The new health agenda laid particular emphasis on the visual, and on techniques of mass persuasion. It had a view of the public which was distinctively different from the wartime concept. Its immediate roots lay in transatlantic influence, in the emergence of mass consumption in the aftermath of wartime restrictions; but also in structural changes in responsibility for health and the central/local tension which has characterized much of British health policy.