Chapter 1: Cultural issues relating to Public Information Films in the English speaking world and other countries and communities.
Anthony Baldry [+]
University of Messina
How do governments shape our identities by promoting official science through Public Information Films? What threats and benefits to a nation’s collective identity and to its individual members are highlighted or suppressed by governments? What clues to the evolution of cultural identities and diversities are hidden in these films? How can investigation of this special form of advertising form the basis for multimodal and cultural studies of English? Everybody has an opinion about how governments manipulate public opinion on sensitive issues such as drug abuse, protection of children against paedophiles and all those matters concerned with health, industrial, home and road safety that, directly or indirectly, affect all of us. Special consideration is given in the volume to the way in which official information is directed (or otherwise) to specific communities such as young children, ethnic minorities, the aged and the mentally or physically disabled. Different countries at different times in their history have different ways of presenting these issues, one reason why this volume seeks to structure the relationships between government, official science and the general public in a systematic way. It uses social semiotic theory to investigate the experiential, interpersonal, intercultural, intertextual, multimodal and generic aspects of meaning making in these films and to explore their efforts to achieve a balance between information and persuasion. This book is dually supported by a dedicated website containing support materials, suggestions for class activities, lists of questions and guidelines for project work, as well as examples of project work carried out by students and by websites that house collections of public information films. The site also contains support materials developed by teachers who helped pilot the course and will allow those using this coursebook to post their contributions and comments.