Submission deadline: January 2, 2013

Topic areas


Public Health Ethics Call for Papers


Over recent decades, there has been an accumulating and increasingly convincing body of evidence supporting the idea of a causal linkage between exposure to audio-visual media representations of behaviours associated with health risks and an increased tendency to exhibit them. Violence against self and other people, tobacco use, harmful alcohol drinking, addictive drug consumption, as well as unhealthy food habits are some of the best known – all major public health concerns. This research has suggested that children and young people (including adolescents and young adults) are especially vulnerable to such influence; and examples include not just those from advertising, such as children’s recognition of alcohol and cigarette brands through direct exposure to adverts and sponsorship, but also indirect exposure to acts of violence, smoking and drinking in other media such as films or TV.

In parallel, there is a rapid and ongoing expansion of the global media landscape as technology develops (e.g. internet, mobile computing and communication technology, social media applications, on- and off-line gaming, satellite television etc.) that brings with it an increasing complexity for policy makers. Central to these developments is a drastic change in access to and control over audio-visual media consumption and production. Traditional tools such as censorship, criminalization, age restrictions, advice to parents and rules for content or broadcast time are gradually becoming obsolete or requiring draconian lengths to be effective. The uptake of the new media world-wide is strongest among young people, as evidenced by ‘the facebook revolution’. Equally well illustrated is the potential costs to core societal values, such as freedom of information, speech and expression, that result from known examples of effective attempts of states to reclaim control over information-flow in the new media landscape, such as in China, North Korea or Syria.

At the same time, media companies are, in this new landscape, becoming more and more globalised, thus becoming more difficult to regulate, while products are made in direct cooperation with the tobacco, alcohol and/or food industry, using so-called ‘product-placement’ and ‘sponsorship’ instead of more traditional and increasingly restricted advertisement. In addition, these developments are being complemented by user-generated fictional or documentary content and new levels of interactivity in the consumption of media content (e.g. in the social media or online gaming settings).

The totality of these developments creates challenges for several parts of society, including families, public institutions, businesses, governments and multinational bodies. How can, and should, one respond to the emerging new situation in a defensible way that does not instigate an intolerable sacrifice of basic ethical, political and legal values? How can the substantial goods offered by the new media landscape be balanced against the possible impact upon the short- and long-term health of children and young people? How should uncertainties with regard to risk-benefit profiles of policies and proposed interventions be evaluated? Contributions may address both descriptive and normative questions, although emphasis will be on the latter or cross-disciplinary work where empirical results are linked to policy proposals or discussion of underlying value-issues, and should involve salient aspects of public health ethics, ideology and/or policy.

General sub-areas of interest:

  • New media consumption, violence, alcohol- and drug use and other types of risky behaviour
  • Impact of specific ingredients of the new media landscape on policy making in relation to health
  • Policy targeting new media structures and drug related behaviour
  • Family and civil society based measures and/or policies relating to risky behaviours
  • The moral and legal status and significance of children, adolescents and young adults relating to risky behaviours
  • Responsibility allocation between young people, families, civil society, commercial parties and societal institutions relating to risky behaviours
  • Weighing rights to free expression and information against societal interests with regard to behaviour that creates significant health risks
  • Assessing and evaluating the policy-impact of uncertainties and gaps in the evidentiary basis in an evolving new media landscape relating to these themes

This special issue will be guest-edited by Christian Munthe ( and Karl Persson ( of the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg.

The deadline for submission is January 1, 2013, but contributions can be submitted continuously up to that point and will be processed for possible publication online as they arrive.

To submit a contribution, you must clearly state that it is intended for this special issue in the cover letter or note accompanying your submission via the Public Health Ethics online submission system, accessible from here:

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#Media ethics, New media, Social media, Children, Freedom of information, Responsibility, Public health policy