Images of cloning and stem cell research in editorial cartoons in the United States

  • Giarelli E
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Through semiotic analysis of manifest and latent meanings in editorial cartoons, the author uncovers how cloning and stem cell research are represented in a popular mass medium. She identified 86 editorial cartoons published in the United States between 2001 and 2004 that referred to cloning and 20 that referred to stem cell research. Cartoonists portrayed people individually 224 times and 4 times in groups of more than 10. Men were portrayed in 64% of cartoons. Stem cell research was depicted as having a potential positive value, and cloning was depicted negatively. Some major messages are that cloning will lead to the mass production of evil, cloning creates monsters, and politics will influence who or what will be cloned. Analyzing popular images can allow access to public understanding about genetic technology and evaluation of public beliefs, preconceptions, and expectations as the public is educated on the use and value of services.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cartoon
  • Human and nonhuman cloning
  • Mass media
  • Semiotics
  • Stem cell research

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  • Ellen Giarelli

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