Health concerns and moral distaste - ‘Concern trolling’ as a moralizing rhetoric

dc.contributorAalto Universityen
dc.contributor.advisorMikkonen, Ilona
dc.contributor.advisorSalminen, Emma
dc.contributor.authorHoli, Ella
dc.contributor.departmentMarkkinoinnin laitosfi
dc.contributor.schoolSchool of Businessen
dc.description.abstractThis paper examines a modern manifestation of moralizing discourse, ‘concern trolling’, in the context of body-positivity discourse in Finland. The empirical materials consist of newspaper articles, columns and opinion pieces, as well as their online comments, published in Helsingin Sanomat, national Finnish newspaper, during the body positivity debate of the summer 2018. More specifically, based on a discursive analysis of the recent public debate, the study shows that concern over the health of overweight frequently also express, implicitly or explicitly, a moral distaste for fat, and belies fat-phobia. It is argued that the rhetoric of concern can camouflage anti- fat sentiments into a more culturally acceptable form. Furthermore, the expressions of concern are found to reproduce weight stigma and stereotypes of fat people, as well as the power dynamics, where fat people are placed lower in the moral hierarchy than straight-sized individuals. The findings also demonstrate how fat is seen as synonymous with poor health, and maintaining a “healthy” weight is seen as the moral responsibility of an individual. Trolling is often seen as harmless, but in reality the concern trolls were found to participate in shaming and moralizing of fat individuals, contributing to weight stigma. In light of the findings it is suggested that the term ‘concern trolling’ is inadequate and trivializing, as it downplays the negative consequences of the weight stigma it reproduces. Previous research demonstrates how weight stigma affects the lives of fat people in access to education and jobs, autonomy as a consumer, as well as access to healthcare. Thus, an alternative term, ‘concern shaming’ would better describe the phenomenon and take its effects into consideration . The study contributes to consumer studies on morality, health and weight by studying the “anti-fat camp” represented by the concern trolls. Introducing concern trolling as a moralizing discursive tactic provides new insight into the societal fat and weight discourse, more specifically, demonstrating how open criticism towards fat people is shaped in a culturally acceptable form. Furthermore, trolling, despite it being a prevalent consumer behavior, is largely understudied especially in consumer and marketing research, and more research is needed to better understand how trolling behaviors influence individuals and the society.en
dc.locationP1 Ifi
dc.subject.keywordconsumer cultureen
dc.titleHealth concerns and moral distaste - ‘Concern trolling’ as a moralizing rhetoricen
dc.typeG2 Pro gradu, diplomityöfi
dc.type.ontasotMaster's thesisen
dc.type.ontasotMaisterin opinnäytefi