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Dossiers RFSIC à paraître

N°19 | Generation(s) & Health

Special Issue Editors: Laurence Corroy & Daniel Raichvarg | may 2020

The World Health Organization Constitution identifies the “enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” as “one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction”. Health issues, as they may extend to well-being concerns, take on great prominence in public debate and receive wide coverage by the media: TV programmes, specialized magazines, movies and serials focused on hospital and medical worlds, dedicated forums and blogs on the Internet, commercials or books. These and other communications publicize and socialize the more quotidian concerns raised by health issues as well as the more controversial ones whenever public health alerts are issued. Research in communication sciences has largely considered these issues ; rich publications have been dedicated to socially sensitive questions such as vaccination, antibiotic resistance or the relationship between human and animal health.

This issue is not limited to any specific health topic nor to digitised health or healthcare organizations. Instead, the papers for this special issue should question what generations, and the notion of generation itself, contribute to the larger field of health information and communication. Whether it be the flu vaccine and its generational targets (young vs. old) or the measles vaccine and the long-term impact of its presence-absence, fault lines occur in the society along the life continuum that make sense considering health. But could the same issues create links between people at their different periods of life?

We must, therefore, conduct generational, intergenerational and transgenerational reflections. As in the 1980’s which was marked by AIDS, do some health issues become significant in the public sphere and in the medias for specific generation(s)? Do media forms generate gaps or convene bridges? Does the digital emphasize fractures in collective and individual spaces and between generations? As the physical and digital communication hybrid is now prominent in the health field, do variants and invariants exist when considering generations(s)? How are our research objects to be configured or reconfigured in light of generation(s) when discussing such spaces as nurseries or nursing homes, The Good Doctor or MeMo?

Three possible lines of approach appear relevant in order to (de-, re-) categorise generations:

Line 1. Circulation of scientific knowledge and laypeople’s knowledge

Some periods of life seem to specifically draw the attention of the public, health authorities and medias. Health education policymakers build prevention strategies that are clearly identified and sensitive to certain times of life, while other people are being left aside on the same health problem. In this digital era, public communication questions the asymmetric relationships between doctors and patients, which have never been so highlighted. Are controversies, where expert and common knowledge compete, coming together with generational effects?

Line 2. Communication of health standards

Evaluating the standards of good health and normal growth according to age and gender means also, too often only implicitly, dictating what is right and proper for a given generation. Thus, the relativity of “good health” and the way institutional communication addresses the subject are questioned. It is worth examining the normative frameworks which determine “good health” and “appropriate behaviours” (food, sexual relations, procreation) according to generations. How can we combine informed consent and degrees of social dependence related to the status of minors or seniors? Better aging, pushing back the dependence age, and fighting or delaying the onset of degenerative diseases still punctuate the importance of time passing and impact bodies and souls in the media space.

Line 3. Mediators and mediations

Different intermediary bodies have the official or the informal responsibility to take care of the health and well-being of people, to characterize health and to communicate responsible attitudes whilst they are classically suitable for specified age groups. Child caregivers, educators and teachers, school nurses, hospital care staff, but, also grandparents, parents and children are concerned with intergenerational solidarity. As the lack of medical care is increasing in some territories and creating new needs and new jobs, are these intergenerational approaches calling for new and specific skills? Digital technology could, then, be considered according to the new mediations it offers.

Laurence CORROY (Senior Lecturer, CERLIS Research Center, Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3), Daniel RAICHVARG (Emeritus Professor, CIMEOS Research Center, University of Burgundy-Franche-Comte).

Proposals should be submitted by 1st October 2019, either in French or in English: and

Proposals should be between 30,000 and 40,000 characters (including spaces, bibliography and footnotes) and state which line is being addressed.

Authors will be notified by 15th December 2019.

Final papers will be due 15th February 2020.


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