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Identities across Media and Modes: Discursive Perspectives

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Edited By Giuliana Elena Garzone and Paola Catenaccio

The recognition that identity is mutable, multi-layered and subject to multiple modes of construction and de-construction has contributed to problematizing the issues associated with its representation in discourse, which has recently been attracting increasing attention in different disciplinary areas. Identity representation is the main focus of this volume, which analyses instances of multimedia and multimodal communication to the public at large for commercial, informative, political or cultural purposes. In particular, it examines the impact of the increasingly sophisticated forms of expression made available by the evolution of communication technologies, especially in computer-mediated or web-based settings, but also in more traditional media (press, cinema, TV). The basic assumption shared by all contributors is that communication is the locus where identities, either collective, social or individual, are deliberately constructed and negotiated.
In their variety of topics and approaches, the studies collected in this volume testify to the criticality of representing personal, professional and organizational identities through the new media, as their ability to reach a virtually unlimited audience amplifies the potential political, cultural and economic impact of discursive identity constructions. They also confirm that new highly sophisticated media can forge identities well beyond the simply iconic or textual representation, generating deeply interconnected webs of meaning capable of occupying an expanding – and adaptable – discursive space.

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KIM GREGO / ALESSANDRA VICENTINI Building South African Web Identity: Health Care Information for Citizens vs. Foreigners 137

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KIM GREGO / ALESSANDRA VICENTINI1 Building South African Web Identity: Health Care Information for Citizens vs. Foreigners 1. Description of the Study 1.1. Background This study intends to outline, through the linguistic analysis of a sample case, the way South Africa represents its national identity on the web, with specific reference to health care information. Health can be considered a suitable and relevant key topic through which to study a country’s identity, as it is deeply connected with all the descriptors of a population (society, economy, politics, culture, religion, etc.), and all types of citizens, all of whom are likely to be subject to health problems. In a sense, health may be viewed as the most democratic of demographic factors as health problems affect just anybody, though other population-related aspects heavily influence occurrence, type, severity and relapse of diseases. And exactly because its impact on society is pervasive, incorporating social, political and of course economic issues as it does, health information and language seem particularly suitable for social and critical analysis. Well-known is South Africa’s recent troubled history, from the long fight against the decades-old apartheid rule, to the first free, multiracial election in 1994 and the subsequent struggle to address the country’s many social and economic problems and thus move on into 1 Research for this study has been carried out jointly by the two authors. Kim Grego, in particular, is responsible for §1.1, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, while Alessandra Vicentini for §1.2, 2.3. The general framework and the concluding...

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