ERMeCC / STiCS Online Lunch Seminar

Thursday 13 Apr 2023, 12:00 - 13:00
Spoken Language

Online via Zoom

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Our next ERMeCC lunch seminar will take place Thursday, 13th April, 12:00 - 13:00. This seminar is hosted by the STiCS research cluster , and will take place online via Zoom.

Please contact Daniel Trottier if you would like to join.



Constructing what is the right thing to do: Framing the political responsibility of Fifa sponsors in Qatar World Cup 2022

Hui Zhao, Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University
Yijing Wang, Department of Media and Communication, ESHCC

The corporate sociopolitical advocacy (CSA) phenomenon has become increasingly common in contemporary society. It is partially driven by the public demanding corporations to take a stance on controversial political and social issues. Although aligning with the public's interest, when a company commits to CSA, its demonstration of support for or opposition to one side of a controversial sociopolitical issue has the risk of alienating certain stakeholder groups.

Thus, corporations often face the dilemma of what is the right thing to do. In communication literature, most research focused on understanding the impact of CSA on corporate constituents. Only a few studies examined how the public pressure corporations to engage in CSA. To fill this gap, this study advances the knowledge of CSA by examining the role of media in constructing corporations’ political responsibility in sociopolitical issues.

Qatar World Cup 2022 human rights controversy was chosen as a case. Informed by framing theory, the study employs qualitative content analysis to analyse 293 international news coverages related to two Qatar World Cup 2022 human rights issues: working conditions of migrant workers and LGBTQ rights. This study contributes to the literature by (1) demonstrating the construction of corporations’ political responsibility on two human rights issues and comparing them; (2) exploring the news media’s role in constructing the political responsibility of corporations to engage in social political issues.

The findings of this study provide guidelines for communication managers on determining a proper CSA strategy towards a controversial issue intensified in public debate.

Fashion activism. A study on the relation between online activism and performance by global fashion brands

Daphne Geveke and Mariangela Lavanga, Department of Arts and Culture Studies, ESHCC

In the current socio-political landscape and through the recent rise of activism online, corporations are increasingly voicing their opinions on and show support for societal challenges. Fashion companies are taking a stand in their social media environments, posting their latest ‘eco’ line on Instagram or sharing inspirational words of empowerment. Yet, one wonders how authentic these activist messages are when another fashion brand posts a picture in line with the feminist movement but does not pay their female employees in their factories a fair wage. Therefore, whether these messages are true and followed by action remains to be seen. Greenwashing is a phenomenon with increasing interest in the academic research field. Yet, few empirical research has been conducted. 

The aim of this research is to gain a better understanding of the relation between voiced activism online and performance of fashion brands in relation to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) indicators. The contents of the Instagram posts of 93 fashion brands in the year 2020 were analysed. The acquired data from the content analysis were adapted in a series of multivariate regressions, testing whether the number of activist posts had an effect on the ESG performance indicators of the fashion brands. Additionally, an empirical application of the activism matrix by Vredenburg et al. (2020) was executed to allow a categorisation of the authenticity of the voiced activism online for each fashion brand.

The results of our multivariate regressions show a statistically significant relation between the voiced activism online and performance. On average the voiced activism online is authentic. Additionally, the application of the activism matrix shows that most of the brands are categorised in the silent or authentic brand activism category. Furthermore, we executed an additional t-test on the participation in the #BlackOutTuesday social media campaign for Black Lives Matter (BLM) solidarity. The test found that on average the brands that participated in the campaign scored higher in the social performance indicators. An increased amount of activism led to a decreased amount of greenwashing which was confirmed when most of the brands were categorised as authentic. Nonetheless, 38% of the brands did either not voice any activist opinion and have a below average ESG performance or have voiced activism online and yet score below average in their ESG performance. Therefore, it remains difficult for consumers to distinguish which brands are in fact woke and it is recommended that future research focuses on the visibility of ESG performance towards the consumers. The study wishes to contribute to the debate around online activism, social and environmental sustainability and branding.

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