Nationalism in business discourses
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 10:33 authored by Rahel Cramer
This thesis investigates how representations of national identity are used in business discourses in the context of globalization. In a series of three case studies employing critical discourse analysis, this thesis by publication explores the tensions between cultural nationalism and economic globalization in the media, in marketing, and in restaurant signage. The first case study examines news coverage of the BP oil spill that occurred in the United States in 2010 but was caused by a multinational company headquartered in the United Kingdom. Using social actor and transitivity analysis, this study asks how the media establish a link between multinational corporations and nation states. To address this central question, the study investigates how (1) corporate responsibility is assigned, (2) the role of the nation state is portrayed, and (3) victim status is allocated in the news. Findings show that the nature of the problem is constructed differently according to diverging national interests or priorities of the two nations represented by the media sources analyzed. The second case study examines a marketing campaign by the Australian supermarket chain Woolworths drawing on multimodal critical discourse analysis. The main research question is how advertising discourse establishes a link between nation states and multinational corporations. To address this central question, this study investigates how the campaign represents (1) the world, (2) various imagined communities, and (3) Australia. Findings suggest that banal forms of cosmopolitanism go hand in hand with banal forms of nationalism in the campaign. These ideologies naturalize discourses of a world of distinct nations while they serve to promote consumption. The third case study investigates how the relationship between nation and cuisine is established in the urban linguistic landscape. Specifically, this study examines restaurant signage in four suburbs of Sydney, Australia, using a linguistic landscape and multimodal critical discourse analysis approach. The main research question is how nations are emplaced in the culinary linguistic landscape of the city. To address this central question, this study investigates (1) which languages are used, and (2) how national and (3) cosmopolitan identities are represented. Findings demonstrate that these banal forms of nationalism and cosmopolitanism contribute to imagining Sydney as diverse, yet nationally grounded. Overall, the three case studies demonstrate how discourses of national identity serve profit-oriented actors as a resource to deflect criticism and to create positive associations with their brand. Specifically, discourses of national interest may serve to mitigate corporate responsibility, to promote consumption and, paradoxically, to create a cosmopolitan brand identity. The thesis has implications for research on banal nationalism, multiculturalism and business discourses. This research also makes a methodological contribution to critical discourse analysis by triangulating datasets from different genres and contexts.