Exploring media construction of investment banking as dirty work

Liz Stanley (Department of Organisational Psychology, Birkbeck University of London, London, UK)
Kate Mackenzie Davey (Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck University of London, London, UK)
Gillian Symon (School of Management and Organizational Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, London, UK)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Publication date: 8 September 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how two kinds of UK-based media positioned investment banking as dirty work during the financial crisis, thereby engaging in moral enterprise (Becker, 1963) and contributing to the shaping of society's normative contours (Cohen, 1972).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employ rhetorical analysis to explore how newspaper editorials and an online blog portray investment banking as tainted between April 2008 and October 2009.

Findings

These media sources construct the values and behaviours of investment bankers, rather than the tasks of their occupation, as morally tainted. Through specific rhetorical strategies the authors advance three key arguments: bankers are morally tainted because their wealth is excessive; because their wealth is not earned; and because they are selfish and materialist.

Originality/value

In investigating media designations of investment banking as dirty work, the paper addresses two aspects of dirty work which are underexplored. First, it examines a high-prestige occupation and second, investigates the construction and attribution of taint to a previously untainted occupation. It makes two methodological contributions to the literature: contributing to the nascent interest in the media's construction of dirty work (e.g. Grandy and Mavin, 2012); and using rhetorical analysis to study the construction of taint.

Keywords

Citation

Stanley, L., Mackenzie Davey, K. and Symon, G. (2014), "Exploring media construction of investment banking as dirty work", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 270-287. https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-12-2012-1119

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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