José sanders electricity research centre

José Sanders studied Dutch Language & Culture at Radboud University Nijmegen, specializing in Discourse Studies and Organizational Communication. She obtained her PhD in Discourse Studies at Tilburg University (1994) with the dissertation ‘Perspective in Narrative Discourse’ in which she analyzed the form and function of perspective in journalistic and fictional narrative in a cognitive linguistic framework. After a subsequent NWO-postdoc position, she worked for 9 years as a researcher-consultant in the area of applied social science of culture and religion. In 2003, she resumed her scientific work at Tilburg University, moving to VU University and finally, in 2009, to Radboud University, to work with the Department of Communication & Information Studies of the Faculty of Arts.

José currently teaches as Professor and is the coordinator of the Master Programme of Communication & Information Studies. She obtained several research grants (NWO, ZonMW) in the domains of text linguistics and health communication, and supervises projects on narrative health communication, online health information seeking behaviour, narrative journalism, and participatory journalism. She currently teaches courses in narrative health communication, new media and society, and journalism theory and genres.

José’s research expertise lies in the domain of discourse analysis and discourse optimization. Her research examines the interplay between the form and the function of discourse in strategic communicative settings, varying from health communication and financial education to journalistic narratives. Discourse characteristics are essentially guiding language users’ understanding, engagement, attitude, and intention to act. Cognitive linguistic theories are helpful to analyze how language users represent viewpoints, frames and situation models in their discourse, using their own perspective as a starting point and trying to reach other language users.

Applying the optimal viewpoints and frames is a major challenge that organizations face when trying to reach a particular target group in a particular context. Discourse characteristics of fictional narrative are particularly helpful to engange readers. An example is a project that studies how personal narratives, instead of argumentative information, can be used to persuade target groups with low health literacy to obtain a healthier life style. Another project studies how financial behaviour is framed in pension education materials, and whether this suits the perspectives that clients of these pensions maintain. A third project investigates whether choice-oriented health education materials on existential themes, such as child birth and palliative care, are sufficiently connected with the framing of personal narratives on these topics in mass media and new media.

José also studies journalistic discourse as a means to create general meaning and personal impact. Not only news organizations, but many more organizations employ journalistic narratives to personally engage their stakeholders, such as clients, patients, pupils, and investors. One project studies how journalistic reconstructions of shocking news events engage readers. Another studies how new media users create content and meaning when they participate in journalistic settings.