Performing the ‘Lifeworld’ in Public Education Campaigns

15 November, 2016

Photo Credit: Mediacorp Pte Ltd.

‘Performing the ‘Lifeworld’ in Public Education Campaigns’ (Pragmatics and Society, 2010) by A/P Michelle M. Lazar (NUS Dept of English Language & Literature) explores the Singapore government’s use of a popular local television character, Phua Chu Kang, to address and connect with the public as someone belonging to the ‘lifeworld’.

The government used Phua Chu Kang to address Singaporeans via rap music videos in a public health campaign during the SARS outbreak in 2003, and to encourage courteous behaviour on local public transportation in 2009. A/P Lazar’s article highlights how the choice of Phua Chu Kang’s character for his ordinariness, his informal register and speech-style, the use of Singlish, and the enactment of ‘community’, contributes to Phua Chu Kang’s performance of the lifeworld. As a result, Phua Chu Kang’s performance of the public message is taken out of the music videos shown on television screens, into the lived social spaces of communities of people—effectively engaging the lifeworld community to help the government achieve its social governance goals.

To read the full article, follow this link.