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Name: Michèle McIntosh

PhD: Applied Linguistics

Thesis Title: Constructing the Model Citizen in Health Communication



Thesis Description:

I am studying the identity of the ‘model citizen’ as defined discursively in information to the public from health organisations, and the often competing and contrasting constructs found in the news media.

Large quantities of information for patients and public are published every year by the National Health Service (NHS) and other agencies concerned with health services. These publications advise, instruct, inform and direct an ‘other’: the reader or recipient of the information. I am interested in discovering the ways in which this ‘other’, usually the user or potential user of services, is constructed using the semiotic communicative modes present in information items or campaigns.

Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) my study will explore the construct of correct, appropriate or desired usage of the NHS as reproduced linguistically in its published information. It will examine publicly available texts about services, such as information leaflets, posters and web pages, in order to ascertain the discursive strategies employed by NHS regarding the ways in which services should be used. These materials are multimodal, so their meaning is not solely dependent on written language, but also upon audio, video, colour, layout, images and more. Each of these modes, and the way they add to and change the meaning of messages, will be analysed.

Invariably when problems arise between public bodies and their ‘publics’ communication is cited as a cause or contributory factor. My research will address topical issues and the outcomes will be pertinent to the production of information for the public in health settings and beyond. Health organisations tend to hold the balance of power in these circumstances, but closer to attention to the construction of their audiences may increase compliance or lead to a greater appreciation of the reasons why users may not always be compliant.

For example CDA may generate suggestions of ways to make texts more appropriate and acceptable to potential audiences, insights into the impact of lexical choices which can sometimes have an undesired effect, or ‘hidden meaning’ embedded in texts which may provoke an emotional rather than a logical response.

If you would like to discuss my research topics or methodologies please get in touch.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Dr Kevin Harvey, Assistant Professor in Sociolinguistics, University of Nottingham

Professor Michaela Mahlberg, Chair in Corpus Linguistics, University of Birmingham


Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:



  • M3C Student Advisory Forum (SAF) Representative for the University of Nottingham (May 2016 - April 2017)
  • Member of the organising group for 'Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities' at University of Nottingham, 13th April 2017.

  • Member of Steering Committee (2016-2017) and Launch Sub-Group for Journey to Justice Exhibition and series of related events at National Justice Museum and other venues around Nottingham, April-June 2017.

  • Paper delivered at British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)  'Constructing the Model Citizen in Health Communication' 1st September, 2017.

  • Paper delivered at British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Special Interest Group on Science and Health Communication 'Choose Less Booze: Discursive Strategies in an Alcohol Reduction Campaign' 29th November, 2017.


  • Teaching Affiliate on Language and Context module. University of Nottingham.



  • Member of the organising committee for the inaugural Midlands3Cities Research Festival, and compere of the Research Relay at this event at Nottingham Trent University, 12th May, 2016.
  • Member of the organising group for 'Experiencing Fictional Worlds: Where does a text take the reader?' Symposium at University of Nottingham, 21st June 2016.
  • M3C Student Advisory Forum (SAF) Representative for the University of Nottingham (May 2016 - April 2017).


Other Research Interests:

  • Member of Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL), University of Nottingham.
  • Member of PGR Stylistics and Discourse Analysis Reading Group, University of Nottingham.
  • Member of British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL).




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