Communication in Context: How Culture, Structure and Agency Shape Health and Risk Communication about COVID-19 in Ghana

Abstract: Despite impressive strides toward proper health education about the pandemic, in resource-limited contexts, health information dissemination occurs within a structural context that restricts the enactment of agency and leads to further marginalization of the most vulnerable. Through observations of and reflections about Ghana’s work in health communication about the COVID-19 pandemic, this essay examines the key processes and outcomes of COVID-19 information dissemination in Ghana, highlighting the structural factors that contribute to health inequities during the pandemic. We argue that although Ghana has been commended continentally and globally for the country’s efforts in containing the virus and securing vaccines to vaccinate its populace, there is evidence of health information access disparities across the country especially in rural communities. In doing so, we increase knowledge about health information needs and gaps, and conclude by making recommendations for public health practitioners in Ghana and similar contexts.

Does Culture Matter? Measuring Cross-Country Perceptions of CSR Communication Campaigns about COVID-19

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought several challenges to businesses and societies. In response, many corporations have supported local communities and authorities in the management of the pandemic. Although these initiatives, which can be considered forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), were highly coupled with explicit CSR communication campaigns, little is known about whether these campaigns were effective. Previous research indicates that culture can shape people’s perceptions of CSR initiatives and communications, suggesting that businesses pay attention to careful consideration of cultural norms for effective CSR communication. However, the COVID-19 pandemic as a new CSR setting may challenge earlier findings. This study empirically investigates whether three cultural factors (individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and power distance) affect public perceptions measured as recall of and favorability towards corporate COVID-19 response initiatives across six countries. Findings from a representative survey of adults across these countries show that respondents in individualistic and collectivistic countries recall these CSR communication campaigns about these corporate COVID-19 response initiatives quite differently, and these are related to differences in power distance and uncertainty avoidance. However, no difference was found in overall corporate favorability, indicating that cultural factors did not affect levels of favorability towards such initiatives. This, we argue, can be explained by the global dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the context of these CSR initiatives. This study contributes to CSR communication literature with empirical findings from a global pandemic setting. It offers businesses and managers empirical grounds to understand the communicative impact of COVID-19 response initiatives, which can inform future CSR actions.

Comedic violence in advertising: Cultural third-person effects among U.S., Korean, and Croatian consumers

Abstract: Humor is a popular appeal used in global advertising and with the growing use of comedic violence ads in the U.S., it is a worthwhile endeavor to see whether comedic violence ads by U.S. brands could travel globally. This research conducted three studies in three countries, chosen for their distinctively different cultural tendencies and market potential: the U.S., Korea, and Croatia. Across the studies it was found that (1) individuals in the U.S. used aggressive humor in daily life more than Koreans or Croatians, (2) U.S. had higher perceived humor and ad attitudes toward the comedic violence ad than in Korea or Croatia, and (3) U.S. individuals found the comedic violence ad funnier for themselves than for others in different cultures while Koreans thought the ad was less funny for themselves than for others in different cultures. Croatians did not have response differences between self vs. others. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

The end of casual; long live casual

Abstract: When we discuss games, as a culture, the games under discussion are often presumed almost always a “core” (or “hardcore”) games. However, video games are change rapidly. The market has been shifting for years with increased revenue and game play occurring in casual and mobile gaming. Revenue streams have are now flowing from digital distribution; the App Store and Google Play have continued to generate substantial industry revenue, which continues to grow. During this, efforts to study a broader category of games often end up reifying a division between casual and hardcore games, the effect of which is to lump players and play styles into specific categories. The politics of this terminology is not nothing – the way games are discussed in mass media, specialized journalism and academic writing, all affect who gets to play and how that player is portrayed. This article serves as an introduction to a special issue for the journal Games & Culture that considers the impact and importance of the casual market.