East Asian Pragmatics, Vol 1, No 1 (2016)

The mediatisation of Chinese corporate communication: A linguistic approach

Zhengrui Han
Issued Date: 13 Apr 2016


The mediatisation of corporate communication transforms corporate negotiations of public companies from representative democracy to deliberative democracy, whereas the public seems to own individual access to a bountiful supply of information regarding corporate changes. However, it is unavoidable that managers become the privileged gatekeepers of media re-articulations; they orchestrate the deliberative process by selecting and construing information for public reception. Such situational complexity creates a tension in managers’ engagement with the public between the need of communicative interaction informing the public and the pursuit of strategic interaction mobilising public opinion for self-interests. Drawing on previous discursive studies of the mediatisation of corporate communication (Vaara & Tienari, 2002) and the theoretical underpinnings of critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992; Wodak & Meyer, 2001), this article examines how the mixing of the two types of interactions are linguistically realised in media texts produced by Chinese managers. Particular attention is paid to the strategic use of narrative structures (Labov & Waletzky, 1997), textual simplification (Bhatia, 1983, 2008), and cultural keywords (Williams, 1976/1983).

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/eap.v1i1.26969


Agha, A. (2011). Meet mediatization. Language & Communication, 31(3), 163–170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2011.03.006

Bhatia, A. (2015). Discursive illusions in public discourse: Theory and practice. New York: Routledge.

Bhatia, V. K. (1983). Simplification v. easification: The case of legal texts. Applied Linguistics, 4(1), 42–54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/applin/4.1.42

Bhatia, V. K. (2008). Creativity and accessibility in written professional discourse. World Englishes, 27(3/4), 319–326. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2008.00570.x

Bhatia, V. K. (2010). Legal writing: specificity. In M. Coulthard, & A. Johnson (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of forensic linguistics (pp. 37–50). New York: Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203855607.ch3

Breeze, R. (2012). Legitimation in corporate discourse: Oil corporations after Deepwater Horizon. Discourse & Society, 23(1), 3–18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926511431511

Brockriede, W. (1982). Arguing about human understanding. Communication Monographs, 49(3), 137–147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637758209376078

Camiciottoli, B. C. (2010). Discourse connectives in genres of financial disclosure: Earnings presentations vs. earnings releases. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(3), 650–663. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.07.007

Chilton, P. (2004). Analysing political discourse: Theory and practice. London: Routledge.

Chilton, P. (2011). Manipulation. In J. Zienkowski, J.-O. Ostman, & J.Verschueren (Eds.), Discursive Pragmatics (pp. 176–189). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/hoph.8.10chi

Chouliaraki, L. (2000). Political discourse in the news: Democratizing responsibility or aestheticizing politics. Discourse & Society, 11(3), 293–314. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926500011003002

Coleman, J. S. (1990). Rational organization. Rationality and Society, 2(1), 94–105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1043463190002001005

Coombe, R. J. (1998). The cultural life of intellectual properties: Authorship, appropriation, and the law. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/9780822382492

Davis, K. (1967). Understanding the social responsibility puzzle. Business Horizons, 10(4), 45–50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0007-6813(67)90007-9

Deng, X. (1994). Selected works of Deng Xiaoping. Beijing: People’s Publishing House.

Dobbin, F. (1994). Cultural models of organization: The social construction of rational organizing principles. In D. Crane (Ed.), The sociology of culture: Emerging theoretical perspectives (pp. 117–141). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Driscoll, C., & McKee, M. (2007). Restorying a culture of ethical and spiritual values: A role for leader storytelling. Journal of Business Ethics, 73(2), 205–217. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9191-5

Duncan, M. (2011). Polemical ambiguity and the composite audience: Bush’s 20 September 2001 speech to Congress and the Epistle of 1 John. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 41(5), 455–471. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02773945.2011.596178

Eggins, S. (2004). An introduction to systemic functional linguistics. London: Continuum.

Eubanks, P. (2004). Poetics and narrativity: How texts tell stories. In C. Bazerman & P. Prior (Eds.), What writing does and how it does it: An introduction to analyzing texts and textual practices (pp. 33–56). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: The rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication, 3(2), 275–296. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0741088386003003001

Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fisher, W. R. (1984). Narration as a human communication paradigm: The case of public moral argument. Communication Monographs, 51(1), 1–22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637758409390180

Flowerdew, J. (1991). Pragmatic modifications on the ‘representative’ speech act of defining. Journal of Pragmatics, 15(3), 253–264. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(91)90013-N

Garriga, E., & Melé, D. (2004). Corporate social responsibility theories: Mapping the territory. Journal of Business Ethics, 53, 51–71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:BUSI.0000039399.90587.34

Girard, J. P., & Lambert, S. (2007). The story of knowledge: Writing stories that guide organisations into the future. The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 5(2), 161–172.

Habermas, J. (1984). Theory of communicative action, Vol.1: Reason and the rationalization of society (Thomas McCarthy, Trans.). Boston: Beacon.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1987). Spoken and written modes of meaning. In R. Horowitz & J. Samuels (Eds.), Comprehending oral and written language (pp. 55–82). San Diego: Academic Press.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Martin, J. (1993). Writing Science: Literacy and Discourse Power. London: The Falmer Press.

Halsall, R. (2008). Intercultural mergers and acquisitions as ‘legitimacy crises’ of models of capitalism: A UK–German case study. Organization, 15(6), 787–809. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1350508408091003

Hart, C. (2013). Argumentation meets adapted cognition: Manipulation in media discourse on immigration. Journal of Pragmatics, 59(Part B, December, 2013), 200–209. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.06.005

Hyland, K. (1998). Persuasion and context: The pragmatics of academic metadiscourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 30(4), 437–455. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(98)00009-5

Huang, Y. (2003). Selling China: Foreign direct investment during the reform era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Iedema, R. (2003). Multimodality, resemiotization: Extending the analysis of discourse as multi-semiotic practice. Visual Communication, 2(1), 29–57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1470357203002001751

Jerit, J. (2004). Survival of the fittest: Rhetoric during the course of an election campaign. Political Psychology, 25(4), 563–575. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00387.x

Kádár, D. (2013). Relational rituals and communication: Ritual interaction in groups. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230393059

Kipnis, A. (2006). Suzhi: A keyword approach. The China Quarterly, 186, 295–313. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0305741006000166

Kohl, J. R. (2008). The global English style guide: Write clear, translatable documentation for a global market. Cary, NC: SAS Institute.

Labov, W., & Waletzky, J. (1997). Narrative analysis: Oral versions of personal experience. Journal of Narrative & Life History, 7(1–4), 3–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/jnlh.7.02nar

Leitch, S., & Davenport, S. (2007). Strategic ambiguity as a discourse practice: The role of keywords in the discourse on ‘sustainable’ biotechnology. Discourse Studies, 9(1), 43–61. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461445607072106

Liu, Z. B. (2005). Quanqiuhua beijingxia de zhongguo zhizaoye shengji de lujing yu pinpai zhanlue 全球化背景下中国制造业升级的路径与品牌战略 [The path of upgrading China manufacturing industry and brand strategy in global background]. 财经问题研究 [Research on Financial and Economic Issues], 258, 25–31.

Marmor-Lavie, G., & Weimann, G. (2006). Measuring emotional appeals in Israeli election campaigns. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 18(3), 318–339. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edh108

McLaren-Hankin, Y. (2007). Conflicting representations in business and media texts: The case of PodwerJect Pharmaceuticals plc. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(6), 1088–1044. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2007.01.009

Mormont, M., & Dasnoy, C. (1995). Source strategies and the mediatization of climate change. Media, Culture & Society, 17(1), 49–64. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/016344395017001004

Nan, Y. P. (2011). Laobaixing shi tian 老百姓是天 [Nothing is more important than the grassroots]. 云南日报 [Yunnan Daily], 11 October.

Ridout, T. N., & Searles, K. (2011). It’s my campaign I’ll cry if I want to: How and when campaigns use emotional appeals. Political Psychology, 32(3), 439–458. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2010.00819.x

Scammell, M., & Langer, A. I. (2006). Political advertising: Why is it so boring? Media, Culture & Society, 28(5), 763–784. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0163443706067025

Snowden, D. (1999). Story telling: An old skill in a new context. Business Information Review, 16, 30–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0266382994237045

Thompson, J. (1995). The media and modernity: A social theory of the media. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Valdebenito, M. S. (2013). Image repair discourse of Chilean companies facing a scandal. Discourse & Communication, 7(1), 95–115. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1750481312466474

Van Dijk, T. A. (1993). Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 249–283. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926593004002006

Van Dijk, T. A. (2006). Discourse and manipulation. Discourse & Society, 17(3), 359–383. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926506060250

Vaara, E., & Monin, P. (2010). A recursive perspective on discursive legitimation and organizational action in mergers and acquisitions. Organization Sciences, 21(1), 3–22.

Vaara, E., & Tienari, J. (2002). Justification, legitimization and naturalization of mergers and acquisitions: A critical discourse analysis of media texts. Organization, 9(2), 275–304.

Vaara, E., Tienari, J., & Laurila, J. (2006). Pulp and paper fiction: On the discursive legitimation of global industrial restructuring. Organization Studies, 27(6), 789–813. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0170840606061071

Wang, H., Yu, C., & Zhao, P. (2005). Xiaofeizhe mingzuzhuyi de liangmianxing jiqi shichang zhanlue yiyi 消费者民族中心主义的两面性及其市场战略意义 [Two sides of consumers’ ethnocentric tendency and their strategic implication]. 管理世界 [Management World], 2 (February), 96–107.

Weick, K. E., & Browning, L. D. (1986). Argument and narration in organizational communication. Journal of Management, 12(2), 243–259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/014920638601200207

Williams, R. (1976/1983). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. London: Fontana.

Wodak, R. (2001). The discourse-historical approach. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (pp. 63–94). London: Sage. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9780857028020.n4

Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (Eds.). (2001). Methods of critical discourse analysis. London: Sage. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9780857028020

Zhu, Y., & McKenna, B. (2012). Legitimating a Chinese takeover of an Australian iconic firm: Revisiting models of media discourse of legitimacy. Discourse & Society, 23(5), 525–552. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926512452971


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy