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Responsibilizing individuals, regulating health: debating public spots, risk, and neoliberal governmentality in contemporary Turkey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 December 2015

Bahar Aykan
Department of Sociology, Marmara University, Göztepe Kampüsü, 34722, Kadıköy, İstanbul, Turkey,
Sanem Güvenç-Salgırlı
Department of Sociology, Marmara University, Göztepe Kampüsü, 34722, Kadıköy, İstanbul, Turkey,


Currently, a mass media campaign is underway in Turkey using a new communication means called the “public spot” (kamu spotu). This article concentrates on the public spots produced by Turkey’s Ministry of Health, and more specifically on those that advocate quitting smoking and preventing obesity. Drawing on interviews with Ministry of Health personnel and analyzing the content of these spots, we suggest that they operate as risk caveats. They caution individuals against smoking and obesity’s potential harms and guide her/him towards self-health governance by encouraging the maintenance of a particular lifestyle that embraces a balanced diet, regular activity, and no smoking. As such, we read these spots as a technique of neoliberal governmentality. This technique works primarily by responsibilizing individuals as health entrepreneurs investing in risk free lifestyles; that is, by conceptualizing health as a matter of self-conduct where personal responsibilities are emphasized.

© New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press 2015 

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Authors’ Note: We would like to thank three anonymous referees for their constructive comments and critical review of the manuscript. The research for this article was funded by the Scientific Research Unit of Marmara University as part of the project with the code SOS-A-101013-0409 and entitled “Neoliberal Yönetimsellik Kavramı Işığında Kamu Spotlarına Sosyolojik bir Bakış.”


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