Analyzing Visual Rhetoric in Organizational Research
Forthcoming in Handbook of Innovative Qualitative Research Methods: Pathways to Cool Ideas and Interesting Papers edited by Kimberly D. Elsbach and Roderick M. Kramer
25 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: September 24, 2015
In this chapter, we argue for the importance of including images in organizational research and discuss visual rhetoric as one approach to the analysis of images combined with words. We argue that this approach is especially useful to understand how emotion is generated through the strategic construction of complex texts combining images and words. We use rhetoric and social semiotics to develop a framework for researching how actors manage meanings in ways that are advantageous to their goals and interests and that undermine and disadvantage opponents through processes of communication that are dialogical, embedded within symbolic systems that operate on several levels of cultural meaning-making simultaneously. When successful, we argue, these actors’ attempts to manage meaning go on to subsequently shape organizational action. We provide an example of this form of analysis using an image from a larger study of the complex symbolic struggle that is currently occurring around heavy oil produced from the Canadian oil sands in northern Alberta.
Keywords: visual rhetoric, social semiotics, emotion, imagery
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