Entextualizing Health Disparities: How Best Practices Produce Queer Populations
METHODS: This case study employs a transdisciplinary methodology based in critical language, visual, and health studies. Social semiotic analysis provides the design and analysis of the (RED) brand, an exemplar of contemporary strategies to coalesce best practices technologies from communication, biomedicine, and business under the banner, rhetoric, and social justice commitments typically found in Western practices of social welfare.
RESULTS: The analysis illustrates how (RED) capitalizes on three general processes to imagine HIV and its attendant subjects anew. The brand re-aestheticizes the contemporary discursive virus, imploding certain understanding of what and who it is. (RED) recontextualizes the longstanding, recognizable cultural resources used to produce awareness, education, and identity, working to occlude brand equity. Finally, the brand and cause marketing re-stylize neocolonial and subaltern actors within (new) the globalizing political- and viral-economy.
CONCLUSIONS: In the helping professions, social work has an express interest and mission to attend to the disenfranchising consequences of social structures, especially when the implications affect the bodies, abilities, and livelihoods of people. This paper is important to social work for a number of reasons. First, it is an example of contemporary transdisciplinary research. Second, this work directs attention from the over burdened, marginalized client and turns the gaze back towards professionals and their best practice labor. Third, this paper shows that contemporary social work practice can do well in the globalizing world to train professionals to work with and intervene in discourse and communication technologies; Pragmatically, this paper offers the practice tools of “semiopublics”, cultural palletes in health promotion, and an ethic of self-reflexivity.