In contemporary society, health issues have gained increasing urgency in both political and academic spheres. Looking back at the failure of the modernist development initiatives, there is the need to realize that we live in a time of increasing sociopolitical complexity. The present moment is perhaps best understood in terms of a complex tension and linkage between the past and present, global and local, modern and postmodern. The critical-cultural approach to health campaigns is an approach that, through the reflexive interrogation of modernist assumptions underlying health communication campaigns, attempts to foreground the tensions inherent in the practice of health campaigns. This essay discusses the manner in which the critical-cultural approach interrogates modernist assumptions and provides an alternative paradigm for approaching the theory and practice of health campaigns by suggesting the necessity for reflexivity. Specifically, we discuss how the perspective interrogates the role of the media in development, the significance of culture, the locus of health responsibility, the impact of structural conditions, and the politics of knowledge, providing examples of campaigns that illustrate this reflexivity.
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