Department of Information Science and Media Studies

Ingeborg Hedda Paulsen

Rhetorically working through: Public feelings and mental health issues.

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This project will give insight into how we experience media texts and public debate characterized by strong, emotional and experience-based argumentation. The main goal is to gather new knowledge about how emotions work as arguments in the public by analysing how different publics “rhetorically work through” news stories about mental health. The study will give new empirical insight into how the public use, interpret and negotiate health information, in a time where traditional health-authorities are challenged, and the media constructs health issues as individual responsibility. 

The study consists of three parts and design to understand 1) what is the most dominant health discourse in news about mental health, 2) how do individuals interpret, negotiate, read, and work through different health discourses, 3) how do groups read, understand, and work through health discourses, what does the rhetorical exchange look like and/or change over time?

The project will use and develop the theory about rhetorical working through. Rhetorically working through is the process where individuals engage with public issues continuously, especially through their daily exchange with several media and social media. Individuals’ forming of opinions, arguments and values is inseparable from their social relations and situations. This project’s main contribution to the theory is to ‘tap’ into each step of the interpretation process: by first categorizing different mental health news into known and well-established health discourses. Second, studying the single-and individual reception as it happens. And third observing and making sense of how individuals argue, discussing their point of view and influencing each other in groups over an extended time period.