Publication details [#55921]

Lazar, Michelle M. 2012. Performing the ‘lifeworld’ in public education campaigns. Media interdiscursivity and social governance. In Hiramoto, Mie, ed. Media Intertextualities. (Benjamins Current Topics 37). John Benjamins. pp. 107–132.
Publication type
Article in book
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins


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, ‘Phua Chu Kang’, in order to address the public through educational rap music videos. Media interdiscursivity is based on an attempt to engage the public via a discourse of the ‘lifeworld’. The present article analyzes the ‘lifeworld’ discourse in terms of a combination of two processes, ‘informalization’ (the use of informal and conversational modes of address) and ‘communitization’ (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 ‘ordinary’ and almost ‘real’ person, including his informal register and speech style; his use of Singlish; and his construction of ‘community.’ The presence of Singlish, in particular, is interesting because (despite the official disdain for the language) it is included as part of PCK’s public performance of the lifeworld. The article concludes by considering this form of media interdiscursivity as the government’s shrewd way of achieving its social governance goals.