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Wednesday, July 29 • 15:16 - 16:45
"Health Literacy on Social Media: Fantasy Theme Analysis of Health Advertorials in Chinese WeChat"

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Authors: Mei Wu and Peiyuan Lin

WeChat, the most popular mobile application in China, plays an increasing role as an information source in everyday lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese. It is a hotbed for information marketing in the form of advertorials. This study sets an inquiry of a special type of advertorials, namely “Yang Sheng advertorials” which are soft advertising articles packaged in the rhetoric of Chinese way of keeping health. “Yang Sheng” (Chinese pinyin: yang sheng, direct translation: keeping a life), is the unique health concept similar to health preservation and disease cure. It is one of the most circulated types of information shared in the Chinese social media. 

This study attempts to identify the symbolic reality shared by Chinese social media users in understanding the “Yang Sheng advertorials” through the application of the Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT) and Fantasy Theme Analysis (FTA). It first examines fantasy themes, fantasy types and rhetoric visions embodied in the “Yang Sheng advertorials” which are mostly marketed in the public accounts of WeChat. Second, it analyzes how these fantasies are shared by young WeChat users through two focus group interviews of university students. Based on the findings, the paper further elaborates how the sharing of health information is rooted deeply in the traditional Chinese health philosophy of keeping a balance “yin” and “yang” forces within the individual body and how this health literacy is mixed with the modern knowledge of medical science and technology, health preservation and disease treatment. The role of social media in fantasizing the health and body is also analyzed. 

Wednesday July 29, 2015 15:16 - 16:45
(9th Floor) TRS 3-176 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

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