Barriers to obesity communication: Power, habitus and hidden assumptions

Ralph Tench, Johanna Fawkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Communication on health issues often founders on the avoidance or denial of key messages by intended recipients. This paper explores the development and application of a research methodology combining elements of Pierre Bourdieu’s work on the unconscious nature of practice with Gerhard Maletzke’s psychological model of communication. This combination was designed to elicit deeper responses than those often found in health communication research. This alternative methodological approach was used to evaluate a year-long, city-wide anti-obesity campaign in Sheffield, UK, which targeted key gatekeepers in the message chain; their responses generate useful insights into resistance to uncomfortable communication. The paper concludes with suggestions for addressing communication about obesity and potentially other uncomfortable health and social topics.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalThe International Journal of Communication and Health
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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