Repertoires of ADHD in UK newspaper media

Horton-Salway, Mary (2011). Repertoires of ADHD in UK newspaper media. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 15(5) pp. 533–549.



This article takes a discursive approach to examine how Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has been represented and debated in UK newspapers in the last decade. Two repertoires of ADHD were identified as the biological and the psychosocial. Subject positions such as problem child, abnormal or ordinary naughty child and ineffectual or neglectful parents are embedded in these alternative versions of ADHD. The biological repertoire justifies and encourages drug treatment for problem children while the psychosocial repertoire makes available the subject position of ordinary naughty child and supports moral judgements about poor parenting practices in a ‘sick society’. Such representations have challenged the media medicalization of ADHD common in a previous decade. Although the biological and the psychosocial repertoires are competing explanations for ADHD, they both perform a common function in representing families as in need of regulation.

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