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Identities across Media and Modes: Discursive Perspectives

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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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VALENTINA DE CICCO The Media Process of Popularising Professional Identities. A Case Study: E.R. 337

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VALENTINA DE CICCO The Media Process of Popularising Professional Identities. A Case Study: E.R. 1. Introduction In the last few decades healthcare professionals in western societies have consolidated their role as both practitioners and discourse makers, especially in their relationship with patients. Doctors’ competences, their ‘know-what’ to do in certain circumstances, are supported by their communicative skills, their ‘know-how’ to pass information to patients, laymen, usually ill at ease with specialized discourse. Dialogue and interaction with patients help the clinical practitioner build up his/her ‘know-what’, moving from practice to theory, through what can be seen as both a maieutic process of elicitation from a patient’s unconscious knowledge of his/her disease, and an objective analysis of a concrete case. Thanks to his/her discursive skill, the physician succeeds in eliciting the medical history from his/her patient, turning the information gained into data to be investigated. This dual professional identity of doctors as practitioners and as discourse makers has been investigated by sociologists and discourse analysts, but also emphasized and publicized by the media, which have been an important vehicle for the masses’ education: different genres, from interviews to documentaries, have contributed to closing the gap between the inscrutability of science and the laymen’s need for an explanation for it. Medical dramas having doctors as main protagonists proliferate and multiply producers’ profits all over the world. With reference to the way in which physicians approach their patients, Sarangi (2001: 23) has identified two attitudes: empathetic Valentina De Cicco 338 and retractive. While the...

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