"For jeres egen bedste": Magtudøvelse i sundhedens navn. Dansk rygekommunikation 1988 til 2008

Adam Winkler Neumann

Student thesis: Master thesis


In recent years smoking has been a major subject of debate, often charged with emotions. In line with, or as a result of the fact that research results have shown not only a connection between smoking and cancer, but also between second-hand smoking and cancer, a change has been observed, over time, in the Danish attitude towards smoking. In Danish trains, malls and work places smoking is prohibited. Even in private homes the heavy smoking uncle is imposed to use the balcony if he wants to smoke. This thesis looks at how campaigns and anti smoking dialogues in the period from 1988 until 2008 try to make people stop smoking by turning the smokers` health into a public concern and by trying to form the smoker’s relation to himself in a certain way through campaigns and courses. In other words the goal of this thesis is to deconstruct the strategies which the antismoking- movement has been using for the last two decades. To do this I draw on Niklas Luhmann and his system theory and Michel Foucault and his theory of governmentality. In the analysis of campaigns it is shown how local networks and institutions like schools and work places have been activated to act as role models and ban smoking locally by using different semantics, things which central authorities wouldn’t be able to implement. Campaigns and courses in how to quit smoking are technologies which function as solutions to a certain problem: the fact that more health has to be produced for less money, and that the individual’s freedom must not be offended. The campaigns communicate messages about health and by means of self technologies they pick the “easy smokers” and send others further into stages of change, so that role models in the community and anti smoking counsellors can deal with them. For this reason the “space” which is sought created in the following anti smoking dialogue can be said to be the rationalities and technologies that form the relationship to themselves, and which can operate in the paradox between freedom and government. The smoking citizen’s relation to himself becomes a question of power as well as an area of political interest. By means of different techniques the smoker is influenced to take over a medical scientific view and to look at himself through health spectacles, considering the view of his surroundings, and in that way transform the view of himself and the need to quit smoking. To take part in and to function in quit smoking projects the smoker has to acknowledge himself as a smoker and the counsellor as a role model, and in that way both characters are being constituted. In this way there will be self management for both parts as the role model has to be self observing too. Both the smoker and the counsellor have to be brought to the understanding that it happens in the name of health and care, and that it is for their own good. In this way the thesis is about a modern state that, despite its wanting to respect the freedom of the citizens, wishes to form them in a certain way with consequences for both citizens and state, which in this case is told through the history of smoking.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages94