Participation: A Legacy In Motion (1971-1999)
Between 1971 and 1999, ParticipACTION, Canada’s Health Promotion agency, reached into Canadian homes, schools, and places of work to “educate, motivate, and mobilize” the public about the perceived need to become physically fit. This dissertation discusses how the agency employed a variety of professional marketing approaches to create compelling prescriptive literature concerning physical fitness to advance a nation-building agenda based in the state directive of individual accountability for the Canadian body. As a result of ParticipACTION's sustained and pervasive influence, Canadians not only remember this prolific brand, but its underlying messaging has become a part of how Canadians view physical fitness and citizenship. ParticipACTION was a project of healthism fostered in an environment of anxiety. The threat of the Cold War, the constructed menace of the Obesity Crisis, and the fear of Quebec Separatism were all used to bolster the message at this semi-public agency over its thirty years of national social marketing. How individual Canadians experienced ParticipACTION varied significantly based on their body type, socio-economic status, gender, language, ethnicity, and region. Through the use of Historical GIS mapping, oral interviews, and archival records, this dissertation offers a history from creation to closure of this national agency and its place in Canada’s social history.
Health Promotion, Social Marketing, Canada, Anxiety, Nationalism, Gatekeepers, Moral Panic, Obesity Crisis, Volunteers, Biocitizenship
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)