Performing the ‘lifeworld’ in public education campaigns

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In Singapore, top down public education campaigns have long been a mode of governance by which the conduct of citizens is constantly regulated. This article examines how in two fairly recent campaigns, a new approach to campaign communication is used that involves media interdiscursivity, viz., the mixing of discourses and genres in which the media constitute a significant element. The present approach involves the appropriation of a popular local television character, &#8216;Phua Chu Kang&#8217;, in order to address the public through educational rap music videos. <br />Media interdiscursivity is based on an attempt to engage the public via a discourse of the &#8216;lifeworld&#8217;. The present article analyzes the &#8216;lifeworld&#8217; discourse in terms of a combination of two processes, &#8216;informalization&#8217; (the use of informal and conversational modes of address) and &#8216;communitization&#8217; (the semiotic construction of a community of people). The dual processes are examined and discussed in relation to the choice of Phua Chu Kang as an &#8216;ordinary&#8217; and almost &#8216;real&#8217; person, including his informal register and speech style; his use of Singlish; and his construction of &#8216;community.&#8217; The presence of Singlish, in particular, is interesting because (despite the official disdain for the language) it is included as part of PCK&#8217;s public performance of the lifeworld. The article concludes by considering this form of media interdiscursivity as the government&#8217;s shrewd way of achieving its social governance goals.


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