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Ingeborg Hedda Paulsen



Ph.D. project

Rhetorically working through, Public feelings and mental health issues

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 public by analyzing how different publics "rhetorically work through" news stories about mental health. The study will give new empirical insight into how the public uses, interpret and negotiate health information - in a time where traditional health authorities are challenged and health is constructed as an individual responsibility.

I  will use and develop the theory about rhetorical working through. Rhetorically working through is the process where individuals continuously engage with public issues, especially through their daily use of online news and social media. Individual opinion formation, arguments, and values are 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 using mixed methods and a sequential explanatory design. The study consists of three parts and design to understand 1) what is the most dominant health discourse in the 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 change over time?

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