Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions: Volume 54B

Cover of Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions

Table of contents

(10 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-x
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Section 4: Multimodal Perspectives on Institutional Persistence and Change

Abstract

This chapter examines how proponents of industrialization used multiple modes of communication to socially construct the rational myth of industrialization in the French construction sector after World War II. We illuminate the respective roles of visual and verbal communication in this process. Our findings suggest that actors construct rational myths according to the following step-by-step method: first, they use visuals to suggest associations between new practices and valuable purposes; then they use verbal text to establish the technical rationality of certain practices; and lastly, they employ both verbal and visual communications to convey their mythical features.

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Abstract

We analyze how institutional persistence unfolds. Building on an historical analysis of 3,307 bottle labels in the Bordeaux wine community, France, between 1924 and 2005, we find that the persistence of a chateau tradition requires considerable effort at maintenance. Instead of greater compression and taken-for-grantedness, we propose that expansion along multimodal carriers provides a marker of a deepening institutionalization. We underscore the role of community organizations in enabling a wine tradition to persist. The implications of our findings for institutional theory and multimodality research are discussed.

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Abstract

Seeking an answer to the question “how does organizational identity change?” we analyze the visual identity marker of universities, namely logos, as time-related artifacts embodying visual scripts. Engaging with the Stinchcombe hypothesis, we identify five processes to the creation of visual identities of organizations: In addition to (1) imprinting (enactment of the contemporary script) and (2) imprinting-cum-inertia (persistent enactment of epochal scripts), we also identify (3) renewal (enactment of an up-to-date epochal script), (4) historization (enactment of a recovered older epochal script), and (5) multiplicity (simultaneous enactment of multiple epochal scripts). We argue that these processes work together to produce contemporary heterogeneity of visualized identity narratives of universities. We illustrate this, first, with a survey of the current-day logos of 814 university emblems in 20 countries from across the world. Second, drawing on archival and interview materials, we analyze the histories of exemplar university logos to illustrate the various time-related processes. Therefore, by interjecting history – as both time and process – into the analysis of the visualization of organizational identity, we both join with the phenomenological and semiotic analysis of visual material as well as demonstrate that history is not merely a fixed factor echoing imprinting and inertia but rather also includes several forms of engagement with temporality that are less deterministic. Overall, we argue that enactment engages with perceptions of time (imaginations of the past, present, and future) and with perceptions fixed by time (epochal imprinting and inertia) to produce heterogeneity in the visualization of organizational identity.

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Abstract

This study illuminates how organizational actors use images in their struggle to define a contested industry. By leveraging social semiotics and visual rhetoric, we examine how multimodal texts (combining words and images) are used to label and reframe an industry using technical, environmental, human-rights, and preservation-of-life criteria. Building on theories of legitimation, we find that for this industry, contesting attempts at legitimacy work are escalated along a moral hierarchy. We offer an approach for examining how actors draw from broader meaning systems, use visual rhetoric in multimodal texts, and employ dual processes of legitimation and de-legitimation.

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Section 5: The Multimodal Construction of Identities

Abstract

In job advertisements, companies present claims about their organizational identity. My study explores how employers use multimodality in visuals and verbal text to construct organizational identity claims and address potential future employees. Drawing on a multimodal analysis of job advertisements used by German fashion companies between 1968 and 2013, I identify three types of job advertisements and analyze their content and latent meanings. I find three specific relationships between identity claims’ verbal and visual dimensions that also influence viewers’ attraction to, perception of the legitimacy of, and identification with organizations. My study contributes to research on multimodality and on organizational identity claims.

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Abstract

A multimodal perspective highlights the importance of attending to the different modes, mostly verbal and visual, which organizations use when conveying messages. We complement this perspective by adding an additional layer, namely the medium through which messages appear. We suggest that organizations can fine-tune messages not only by playing with possible interactions across modes, but also across media. We build our reasoning around the communication of identity claims. Specifically, we are interested in how identity elements are referenced in verbal and visual modes of meaning making, and how these modes interrelate both with one another and with the respective channels of communication on which they appear. We propose that organizations differentially select identity elements across diverse media and draw on specific identity elements modally in their quest for legitimate distinctiveness. We propose three ways in which multimodal identity claims interact: intensifying, in which messages draw from the same theme to reinforce claims; complementing, in which messages complement each other to enhance meaning; and transposing, in which a dominant theme in one message is transposed into another theme elsewhere. We provide an illustration with identity claims made by single-malt Scotch whisky distilleries.

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Abstract

City identity is a distinct form of collective identity based on the perceived uniqueness and meanings of place, rather than group category and membership. A city’s identity is constructed over time through architecture, which involves three sign systems – material, visual, and rhetorical – and multiple institutional actors to communicate the city’s distinctiveness and identity. We compare Barcelona and Boston to examine the identity and meaning created and communicated by different groups of professionals, such as architects, city planners, international guide book writers, and local cultural critics, who perform the semiotic work of ­constructing city identity.

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Abstract

This afterword reviews the chapters in this volume and reflects on the synergies between organization and management studies and multimodality studies that emerge from the volume. These include the combination of strong sociological theorizing and detailed multimodal analysis, a focus on materiality and on the way functionality and meaning combine in multimodal communication, and an interest in the historical transformations of identity and legitimation discourses.

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Index

Pages 243-244
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Cover of Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
DOI
10.1108/S0733-558X201754B
Publication date
2017-11-30
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78743-332-8
Book series ISSN
0733-558X