Episode 2: Why language matters II: constructing social realities

In this episode the hosts talk about how communication and language actually create our social realities; how they influence or even determine how we perceive what we think is true, and how language is used by others to mould or even manipulate our perceptions of reality. They demonstrate the power of language in psychology experiments, inflated job titles and the wording of business letters. Our interview guest for this episode is Professor Dennis Mumby from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who will talk about the role of communication in organisations. In the analysis part, the host scrutinise the language of the recruitment pages of a company.

In the first part of the episode, Erika mentions the Loftus-Palmer experiment, which was published in the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior in 1974.

During the interview, we discuss how corporate sustainability reports have changed to avoid accusations of greenwashing. Here are two examples from 2008 and 2018:

In the interview, our guest Dennis Mumby also tells us the story of the slogan ‘Diamonds are forever’, so we thought a musical interlude might be in order: the theme song to the James Bond film of the same name, sung by Shirley Bessy

Two of Dennis Mumby’s recent publications that we mention in the interview are the co-authored textbook ‘Organizational Communication: A critical introduction’ and his 2016 article ‘Organizing beyond organizations: Branding, discourse, and communicative capitalism’, which was published in the journal Organization.

At the end of the interview, Dennis Mumby mentions Brooke Duffy’s book (Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love.

A good summary of Sullivan’s and Delaney’s work on female entrepreneurs can be found on the LSE blog.

And finally, in the third part of this episode, we look at a page on the website of cosmetics company Avon.

Erika and Veronika have analysed an earlier version of this campaign in a paper that can be accessed and downloaded for free here.

Listen to the episode here

Full transcription of the episode

References and Further Reading

Darics, E., & Koller, V. 2019. Social actors “to go”: An analytical toolkit to explore agency in business discourse and communication. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 82(2), 214-238.

Duffy, B. E. 2017. (Not) Getting paid to do what you love: Gender, social media, and aspirational work. New Haven, CT, and London, UK: Yale University Press.

Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. 1974. Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of verbal learning and verbal behavior, 13(5), 585-589.

Mumby, D. 2016. Organizing beyond organizations: Branding, discourse, and communicative capitalism’. Organization 23 (6), 884-907.

Mumby, D. K., & Kuhn, T. 2019. Organizational Communication: A Critical Introduction (2nd Edition). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Sullivan, K.R & H. Delaney. 2017. A femininity that ‘giveth and taketh away’: The prosperity gospel and postfeminism in the neoliberal economy. Human Relations 70(7), 836-859.

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