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Viral EconomiesBird Flu Experiments in Vietnam$
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Natalie Porter

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226648804

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226649139.001.0001

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Marketing Morals

Marketing Morals

(p.115) 4 Marketing Morals
Viral Economies

Natalie Porter

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines endemic-phase experiments centered on information communications. It shows how behavior change communications campaigns imagine and create desires for different futures by using social marketing techniques to “sell” healthy behaviors to citizens as health consumers. While this choice-based approach to health provision seems incompatible with a Vietnamese governing system centered on compulsory state directives, ethnographic observations show how health and development workers unite these distinct governing practices in inventive ways. By juxtaposing bird flu communications with critical readings of propaganda posters from Vietnam’s revolutionary era, the chapter argues that bird flu commercials, jingles, slogans, and merchandise draw on long-standing socialist mass mobilization devices to establish a market in healthy behaviors. Symbols of family responsibility, state stewardship, and livestock care, which the government has long used to discipline populations, find ideological purchase in this experiment. I further argue that behavior change communications expose a shift in Vietnam’s health governance, from governing self-responsible citizens in the Communist era, to governing self-responsible consumers in the market socialist era. Taken together, this analysis illustrates the everyday practices through which the Vietnamese state interacts with global health orders, and it shows the locally specific intersection of health and economic logics in One Health.

Keywords:   social marketing, behavior change, neoliberalism, socialist mass mobilization, governmentality, health communications, health consumers, propaganda

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