Hypothesis of individualism and equality? : cultural representations in American organizational media releases
According to previous research, American cultural values are reflected in the external communication of organizations. This study aimed to explore how cultural features are reflected in a specific American organization’s, the Coca-cola Company’s, web based media releases and to hypothesize what kind of effects the discourses could have on the viewers’ perceptions of the world. In this cultural studies oriented research, the notion of cultural transference was adopted to explore the way texts can carry and represent cultural features, such as values, norms and behaviour models. In addition, effects research was adopted to reveal the texts’ potential effect on people’s worldviews. Specific research questions included: (1) What American cultural characteristics (values, norms or behavior models) are represented in the discourse of media releases? And (2) what kind of general judgments can be made from these representations of the North American culture on the public’s perception of “normality” (cultural change phenomena)? The data consisted of 24 media news releases posted in the year 2009 on the target company’s official website’s Press Centre section targeted to North American press and audience. Theoretically based content analysis was used to study the data. Althen’s (1988) five characteristics of American culture were used as the main theoretical background in the study: (1) high level of individualism; (2) emphasis on equality; (3) future orientations; (4) desire for action and achievement; and (5) directness and assertiveness (Okigbo, Martin & Amienyi 2005: 315). According to the study findings, the media releases reflected many of Althen’s model’s American cultural characteristics at least on an average level. Especially desire for action and achievement and directness and assertiveness were strongly transferred in the discourse. On the other hand, surprisingly the results revealed more collectivist values instead of individualist values and a differentiation perspective was emphasized instead of equality. The contradictory values could have potential effect on viewers’ cultural perceptions. In conclusion, the results reveal interesting cultural transference aspects of media releases which might need future research especially from the release objective perspective. ...
Alternative titleCultural representations in American organizational media releases
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