HOW YOUNG WOMEN MAKE MEANING OF SEXUAL ASSAULT CAMPAIGNS: USING A CULTURAL STUDIES APPROACH TO (RE)DEFINE PERCEPTIONS OF RISK, HEALTH, AND PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE
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The purpose of this study was to understand how women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds make meaning of sexual assault communication. In this exploratory study, one component of the circuit of culture - consumption - was examined using the cultural studies approach to investigate how women perceived the various cultural codes, symbols, languages, and images associated with sexual assault. The study used qualitative focus groups and one-on-one interviews with African American, Hispanic, Asian American and white women from a large university. Findings revealed that women associate themselves with sexual assault based on their gender and age. In addition, women are more receptive to thematic messages that hold a personal relevance to them. This study expanded the use of cultural theory in public relations as well as supported a proposed theory of women's health communication. Practical implications include various innovations communicators can use to improve their proficiency in crafting culturally competent messages.