Visual Rhetoric and Mobilization of Public Opinion: A Multi-modal Discourse Analysis of China’s Family Planning Policy Propaganda Posters


As an instrument of political mobilization, mass media influence public opinion to increase the efficiency of mobilization and achieve ambitious goals. Since artistic images are more effective than texts in attracting attention and conveying messages, China has used posters extensively to change public opinion when promoting its family planning policies. This study analyzes the characteristics of family planning posters in different periods from the 1970s to the present within the multi-modal analytic framework of visual grammar proposed by Kress and Van Leeuwen in terms of "representational", "interactive" and "compositional" modes of meanings. The study finds that politically charged ideological indoctrination dominated the 1970s, the 1980s featured raising public awareness of specific policies, and from the 1990s to the present, artistic expressions have enjoyed thematic diversity and innovation. In general, conducive to fertility-related belief revision and behavioral change of the public, China's colorful family-planning propaganda has played a positive role in encouraging favorable views towards China’s family planning policies.

Author Information
Xiaotian Hou, Shanghai International Studies University, China

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2022
Stream: Visual Communication

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon