Cadernos de Saúde Pública
Print version ISSN 0102-311X
DIOGENES, Kátia Castelo Branco Machado and NATIONS, Marilyn. "Prisms of Perception": multiple readings of mass media health messages in Northeast Brazil. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2011, vol.27, n.12, pp. 2469-2473. ISSN 0102-311X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2011001200018.
This anthropological study from February 2009 to November 2010 revealed the comprehension and cultural critique of three mass media health campaigns in Northeast Brazil. Twenty-four ethnographic interviews were conducted, exploring the iconographic and semantic content of the campaigns in the Dendê community in Fortaleza, Ceará State, Brazil. The authors used Content Analysis; Systems of Signs, Significance, and Actions; and Contextualized Semantic Interpretation. There is a gap between the elaboration and reception of messages. Multiple interpretations occur (proximal reading, kaleidoscope of comprehension, and distant reading), depending on the reader's cognitive proximity to (or detachment from) the message. This "perceptual plasticity" arises from the creativity of popular imagination. Health professionals who hear rather than dismiss the "recipient's" subjective voice, which re-signifies authoritative messages, can penetrate the perception of the recipient's "visual world". In the context of poverty, this re-framing is essential for people to comprehend and proactively defend their own health.
Keywords : Health Communication; Poverty; Semantics.