Knowledge dissemination for social change. A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of an online health information service


The study focuses on Kinsey Confidential™, a weekly newspaper column that adds an image to each answer it provides to the question received from a young reader. Based on corpus building criteria, the work collected all the web pages containing the image, the question, and the corresponding answer in the time span between February, 2015 to May, 2018. Tools of analysis found in Kress and van Leeuwen (2006), Machin and Mayr (2012), Ledin and Machin (2018), and in the pack of utilities of WordSmith 7.0 (Scott 2016) were used to identify a series of salient recurring discursive strategies through which the website depicts sexuality and promotes sexual health. These strategies help to represent a new multimedia mode of scientific knowledge dissemination and a multimodal channel of safe sex promotion for social change in the contemporary sociocultural context of adolescents’ sexual knowledge and behaviour. The data from previous studies, based exclusively on linguistic analysis of young people’s questions submitted online, showed the presence of misinformed socially-derived beliefs and understanding of sex, gender and reproduction (Harvey 2013; Maglie 2015, 2017). In addition, this study addresses the way knowledge dissemination on sexuality is communicated by the website, not just through popularised scientific language, but also through visual language. Thus, the combination of the linguistic and semiotic resources found in Kinsey Confidential™ helps to introduce different levels of signification of discourses, all aiming at fostering appropriate knowledge of sexual and reproductive health among the younger generation.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v40p143

Keywords: Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA); sexual and reproductive health discourse; expert-based health platforms; quanti-/qualitative approach


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