An Analysis of the Social Construction of Breast Cancer Awareness in Media and Cause-Related Marketing


  • Cole Challand Student



Frank's communicative body, Cause-related marketing, Social construction of breast cancer awareness


Today, women’s experience following breast cancer is being a survivor. This experience is a demedicalized one, there are no medical connotations attached, women are not patients, they are survivors. Breast cancer activism discourse presents this survivor experience and seeks to destigmatize the disease through public awareness. The demedicalized nature of the disease and its messaging of awareness has provided an opportunity for companies to capitalize on this discourse through cause-related marketing. This paper uses Arthur Frank’s concept of the communicative body to explain the origins of the social construction of breast cancer as a demedicalized experience and to analyze new media messaging of breast cancer activism within the past decade. The analysis conducted establishes two dominant themes in breast cancer activism in new media. Firstly, the use of survivors employing Frank’s communicative body to build awareness, which can be traced back to the origins of the movement in the 1970s. Secondly, the corporate capitalization of the movement, namely the pink ribbon through cause-related marketing. This paper argues the demedicalized experience of having breast cancer still maintains its core values as a survivor-focused movement about women communicating their illness as survivors through their communicative bodies. However, the demedicalized nature has in turn allowed companies to capitalize on its messaging for their own financial gain. This paper finds that the ‘pinkwashing’ produced by cause-related marketing for breast cancer damages activist messaging through its monetization, distorting the social construction of awareness, and dividing survivors in their views of how awareness should be communicated. This ultimately creates two sides of raising awareness: one created through survivors using Frank’s communicative body, the other established by companies using cause-related marketing.


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How to Cite

Cole Challand. (2024). An Analysis of the Social Construction of Breast Cancer Awareness in Media and Cause-Related Marketing. The Motley Undergraduate Journal, 2(1).



Research and Analytical Articles