• Square dancing: A multimodal analysis of the discourse in the People’s Daily

      Zhang, Qi; Min, Ge (2019-07-12)
      Square dancing, guangchangwu in Chinese, is a kind of physical activity practiced in flat public spaces for fitness and entertainment. Despite its popularity all over China, there have been news reports on conflicts caused by it, such as noise pollution or use of a public square. This study collects 150 news articles published between May 2016 and May 2018 containing the keyword guangchangwu from the People’s Daily, one of the most influential official newspapers owned by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The purpose of the study is to investigate the government’s attitudes towards square dancing through an analysis of the official media discourse, using word frequency of occurrence and multimodal discourse analysis. Both the word count and the co-deployment of visual and linguistic resources indicate that square dancing is perceived as an integral part of promoting the national fitness agenda. While the discourse demonstrates awareness of square dancing in the context of an aging society and a shortage of public space, general approval for it is still quite evident in the frequent positive descriptions in the text and presentations in the images. The use of the word dama ‘big mama’ in the official media discourse reveals gender inequality in contemporary China.