n African Journal of Rhetoric - Rhetoric and the challenges of HIV/AIDS management : promoting health-enabling dialogue through mediated communication

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


This paper uses Billig's (1996) social psychological understanding of rhetoric as a frame for examining the potential of mediated communication to build 'transformative social spaces.' These social spaces offer people who are vulnerable to or affected by HIV/AIDS an opportunity to participate in dialogue and collective action that leads to the reframing of their social identities in more empowered and health-enhancing ways. Ideally this should lead to the development of more health-enabling social representations and practices.

Three forms of alternative mediated communication are considered. First, is edutainment, which entails the embedding of health promotional messages in entertainment programmes. This is discussed and illustrated with a case study of a South African television soap opera. Secondly, we examine civic journalism, which involves the collaboration of journalists and members of the public in constructing media outputs. Illustrations of civic journalism are drawn from examples of radio initiatives in Malawi and Chile. Finally, we consider networked journalism, in which laypeople and journalists together develop stories, discuss issues and organize collective action through the use of digital and satellite technology. Networked journalism is discussed in relation to both African women bloggers and breast cancer bloggers in Western Europe.
The paper discusses the limitations of mediated communication strategies. Nonetheless the potential for such initiatives to harness the transformative potential of critical dialogue and social participation position them as powerful tools for tackling certain aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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