Responsibility versus commerciality : Paradoxical message construction in the case of avalanche airbag producers

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/HLK, Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap

Abstract: Economic sustainable performance always includes opposing aims, thus today many businesses are facing a social versus financial dilemma. In this study, the case of avalanche airbag producers is adapted. Their communicative challenge is to act commercially viable and to be socially responsible at the same time. This study is theoretically based on risk communication, paradox theory, semiotics and framing. As it is a qualitative study, semiotic analysis from a multimodal approach is applied in order to investigate how the chosen companies (ORTOVOX and Backcountry Access) maneuver within this tension in their communication discursively. Two educational videos were selected as material. The research question addressed in this thesis is: How do the producers of avalanche airbags deal with the paradox of being commercially feasible and socially responsible within their educational video? This is investigated by systematically analyzing the material and looking especially at visual-, auditory- and lexical semiotic choices as well as the opposing discourses of fear and joy. The analysis revealed two completely different communicative strategies. While the company Backcountry Access stressed the joy aspect and preparedness action within its video, ORTOVOX emphasizes the fear discourse and works with fear messages. Furthermore, a significant difference within the lexical choices was identified. Backcountry Access uses informal lexis and represents the actor as a cool guy and in harmony with the community role. Whereas, ORTOVOX stresses the expert knowledge by using formal language and scientific terms. Also, the visual construction of the social actors is in accordance with these findings. 

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