n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - Aids and political cartoons : a case study : conference / seminar paper

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0250-0167



Broadly, this article looks at the role played by political cartoons in the Aids struggle. A sample drawn from the period 1988 to 2001 was used for this study, the purpose of which is to discover how Aids has been represented in political cartoons published in major South African newspapers. Two sub-problems are identified. The first sub-problem looks at the frequency of Aids-related cartoons over the study period and follows a quantitative approach using content analysis. The second sub-problem considers the representation of Aids in cartoons and uses a qualitative approach through the application of semiotic analysis. This analysis is based on the interpretation of the sign system drawing on the iconic, indexical and symbolic elements in the cartoon. In conclusion, the value of political cartoons is debated. Political cartoons serve as an important adjunct to editorials, providing a summary of a certain situation or event. As a visual image, cartoons can instantly make a point that would be difficult to articulate in written text and often leave a lasting impressions on the reader. A problem in analysing political cartoons is the lack of definitive supportive theories. A model devised by Medhurst and Desousa, based on the assumption that the political cartoon is a rhetorical device, is used as the starting point.

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