Organisational discourses : electronic windows on the work of HIV/AIDS-care organisations

Solomons, Cecily (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil (General Linguistics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is interested in textual features of websites which cover the same kind of content, but represent different organisations and address different kinds of audiences. Specifically, it investigates how information on HIV/AIDS is multimodally represented on the webpages of two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and two governmental organisations. First, the websites of the national Department of Health and of a provincial Department of Health (Western Province) are scrutinised. Second, the websites of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Avert, NGOs with a special interest in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, are investigated. The aim of the research is to consider aspects of layout, the use of multimodality, and the introduction of selected themes and concerns foregrounded in the selected websites. The focus of the thesis is on the transmission of information, particularly through the electronic media, by investigating multimodal elements (language, images, sound, colours) and the layouts of websites, in order to identify possible interpretations which the intended audiences may afford the various texts. The analysis of the sites relies theoretically on the metafunctions developed by Halliday (1985) in his systemic functional linguistic framework. It also refers to an extension of Halliday’s work developed to allow multimodal discourse analysis that considers aspects of visual design and placement, developed by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996, 1998) and Kress (2003, 2005). These approaches focus on text, multimodal elements, the placements thereof on a page as well as the coherence between design of layouts and communicative modes that intend to send a convincing and meaningful message. The thesis also refers to Critical Discourse Analysis in that it considers matters of language and power in internet based communication. It seems that the governmental sites are set up with an audience in mind who needs to be informed on policy matters, while the NGO sites are set up with a more vulnerable audience in mind. One kind of web-communication is likely to alienate the exact people who should be receiving state support and treatment in the face of HIV/AIDS. Another is aimed more at supporting activism against the perceived lethargy of the state. A third supports various charities that reach out to communities where HIV-infection rates are particularly high. The interpretation of multimodal pages requires knowledge of website design for educational purposes as well as information on usage of the internet to get sufficient information. Further, access of the intended audience to electronic communication needs to be considered as this will determine whether the seriousness of the illness and possible prevention or treatment, is well communicated, especially to those who have been identified as most vulnerable to new infection. The thesis finds that electronic communication cannot be the first step to circulating information related to HIV/AIDS. Non-governmental and governmental institutions are still dependent on other forms of media than websites, thus on the printed media, radio and television, and on campaigns or community based projects to communicate with particular audiences. Electronic communication is complex in that it works with various modes (visual, verbal, audial) and requires some technical sophistication from producers and receivers of texts. Theories of communication and discourse analytic methodologies can assist in our understanding of how the internet succeeds or fails in circulating critical health care information. However, to gain a reliable understanding of how the internet functions in transmitting HIV-information to all interest groups, received knowledge of other areas of scholarly interest in health care communication, such as multilingualism, sociology, anthropology, behavioural sciences, cognitive psychology or brain research elaborations, would eventually have to be considered as well.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis stel belang in tekstuele kenmerke van webwerwe wat dieselfde tipe inhoud weergee, maar verskillende organisasies verteenwoordig en verskillende tipes gehore aanspreek. Dit ondersoek spesifiek hoe inligting oor MIV/Vigs multimodaal op die webbladsye van twee nie-regeringsorganisasies (NRO’s) en twee regeringsorganisasies aangebied word. Die webwerwe van die Nasionale Departement van Gesondheid en die Provinsiale Departement van Gesondheid (Wes-Kaap) word eerstens noukeurig ondersoek. Tweedens word die webwerwe van die Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) en Avert, NRO’s met spesiale belang in die voorkoming en behandeling van MIV/Vigs in suidelike Afrika, ondersoek. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om oor aspekte van uitleg, die gebruik van multimodaliteit en die invoering van spesifieke temas en sake wat op die geselekteerde webwerwe beklemtoon word, na te dink. Die tesis se fokus in op die oordrag van inligting, veral deur die elektroniese media, deur multimodale elemente (taal, beelde, klank, kleur) en die uitleg van webwerwe te ondersoek, om sodoende verskillende moontlike interpretasies wat die bestemde gehoor aan die verskeie tekste mag heg, te identifiseer. Die analise van die webwerwe steun teoreties op die metafunksies wat deur Halliday (1985) ontwikkel is in sy grammatikale raamwerk, Systemic Functional Grammar. Dit verwys ook na ’n uitbreiding op Halliday se werk, wat deur Kress en Van Leeuwen (1996, 2005, 1998) en Kress (2003) ontwikkel is om multimodale diskoersanalise toe te laat wat aspekte van visuele ontwerp en plasing oorweeg. Hierdie benaderings fokus op teks, multimodale elemente, die plasing daarvan op ‘n bladsy en die koherensie tussen die ontwerp, uitleg en kommunikatiewe modusse. Dit kyk na hoe hierdie elemente saamwerk om ’n oortuigende en betekenisvolle boodskap uit te stuur. Hierdie tesis verwys ook na aspekte van Kritiese Diskoersanalise wat betrekking het op kwessies van taal en mag in internetgebaseerde kommunikasie. Dit kom voor asof die regeringswebwerwe ontwerp is met ’n gehoor in gedagte wat oor beleidskwessies ingelig moet word, terwyl die NRO-webwerwe ontwerp is met ’n meer weerlose gehoor in gedagte. Lg. gehoor word ingelig oor die siekte en behandelingsmoontlikhede eerder as beleid. Een soort web-kommunikasie sal waarskynlik dié mense wat juis regeringsondersteuning teen MIV/Vigs behoort te ontvang, vervreem. ’n Ander soort is meer daarop gerig om aktivisme teen die staat se vermeende traagheid te ondersteun. ’n Derde soort kommunikasie ondersteun verskeie liefdadigheidsorganisasies wat uitreik na gemeenskappe waar MIV-infeksiekoerse besonder hoog is. Die interpretasie van multimodale webwerwe vereis kennis van webwerf-ontwerp vir opvoedkundige doeleindes asook inligting oor die gebruik van die internet om voldoende inligting te bekom. Verder moet die bestemde gehoor se toegang tot elektroniese kommunikasie in ag geneem word, aangesien dít sal bepaal of die erns van die siekte en moontlike voorkoming of behandeling, goed weergegee word, veral aan dié wat s besonder blootgestel is en dus hoë risiko loop vir nuwe infeksie. Die tesis bevind dat elektroniese kommunikasie nie die eerste stap kan wees in die proses om inligting oor MIV/Vigs te sirkuleer nie. Nie-regerings- en regeringsorganisasies is steeds afhanklik van ander media as webwerwe, soos drukmedia, radio, televisie en veldtogte of gemeenskapsgebaseerde projekte, om met bepaalde gehore te kommunikeer. Elektroniese kommunikasie is kompleks omdat dit met verskeie modusse (visueel, verbaal, oudio) werk en tegniese sofistikasie van vervaardigers en ontvangers van tekste vereis. Teorieë van kommunikasie en diskoersanalise-metodologieë kan ons insig in hoe die internet daarin slaag (of nie) om belangrike gesondheidsorginligting te versprei. Om egter ’n betroubare begrip vir die werking van die internet as verspreider van MIV-inligting aan alle belange-groepe te verkry, moet kennis van ander areas van belangstelling in gesondheidsorg-kommunikasie, soos veeltaligheid, sosiologie, antropologie, gedragswetenskappe, kognitiewe psigologie of brein-navorsing, ook uiteindelik oorweeg word.

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