Diabetes in the media: a cross-cultural comparison of Chinese and German public discourse


5:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Yuexi.Liu@xjtlu.edu.cn & Penelope.Scott@xjtlu.edu.cn


  • Time: 5:30-6:30pm
  • Date: Thursday 23 September 2021
  • Venue: HS436 and Zhumu (Please contact Yuexi.Liu@xjtlu.edu.cn & Penelope.Scott@xjtlu.edu.cn for Zhumu details)


In the course of modernization, diabetes was originally a public health crisis in Western countries like Germany, but meanwhile has become a worldwide epidemic. Due to changes in lifestyle demographics as well as socio-economic transitions in China during the last three decades, there has been an epidemiological shift to non-communicable chronic diseases like diabetes. In the course of globalization of diabetes, China has become the country with the largest number of people with diabetes worldwide. Against the background that in different cultural contexts different health beliefs of practitioners and patients, different media systems, and different forms of doctor-patient interactions exist, the question emerges how diabetes is represented in the public discourse of Confucian and Western societies.

My talk introduces an ongoing research project that investigates intercultural aspects of online communication on diabetes. Using an information science approach, this Digital Humanities project analyzes how journalists and patients in China and Germany represented the disease in public online discourse at a time before social media have been introduced. How do doctors, journalists, and science communicators in both countries frame the disease? For example, do they present the same (medical, social, economic) causes to explain the disease? Do patients and their relatives exchange similar or rather different strategies when it comes to coping with the disease in everyday life? Since this is an ongoing project, the talk won’t provide final answers to such questions, but will rather highlight the conceptual problems that researchers from the social sciences face when they aim at reconstructing societal contexts with text mining tools.


Cornelia Bogen is a scholar of media and communication studies working in the interdisciplinary field of health communication. She obtained her doctoral degree at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. She conducted her post doctorate at the School of Public Health, Medical School, Tsinghua University, Beijing, investigating the impact of digitization on doctor-patient interaction. Her research projects investigate intercultural aspects of modernization processes, the transformation of the structure of public spheres, and the social impact of (new) media technologies across cultural boundaries.

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