Public Communication as an Instrument of Social Control. The Case of Messages Intended for Homosexuals in the French Government’s AIDS Campaign
In France, ‘public communication’ is described as an action aiming to change behaviours, officially recognized as of benefit to the country. My PhD project aims to analyze ‘public communication’ as a type of discourse making visible political mobilization with regard to social issues. In this research, I consider ‘public communication’ as a way of using political power for the purposes of social control, as Foucault defined it. This work focuses specifically on the case of messages intended for homosexuals in the French Government’s AIDS campaign. The project aims to map the evolution of the spread of social discourses about homosexuality in the public sphere according three periods: 1/ before the AIDS epidemic began, 2/ during the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, and 3/ after 1995 when the French government started to gain legitimacy about AIDS prevention. Thus, the project needs to gather a corpus of the dominant social actors and media discourses more particularly from 2000 till 2008. By emphasising the evolution of the discourses about homosexuality, the project intends to show that the institutionalization of messages for homosexuals in the French Government’s AIDS campaigns occurred alongside a less familiar discourses on homosexuality of other social actors (associations and personal stories). This project will determine how ‘public communication’ can represent a tool of social control, in order to serve Foucault’s concept of ‘biopower’ management, which states have adopted since the 19 th century.