Rhetoric and Argument in Corporate Social Responsibility Communications: the Dirty Laundry Case

Accounting

Speaker:Prof Niamh Brennan, University College Dublin
Date: Wednesday 15 February 2012
Time: 14.00 - 15.00
Location: Building One Teaching Room 3

Further details

Rhetoric and Argument in Corporate Social Responsibility Communications:
the Dirty Laundry Case
 
Niamh M. Brennan
(University College Dublin, Ireland)
 
Doris M. Merkl-Davies
(Bangor Business School, Bangor University, UK)
 
Abstract
 
This paper explores verbal interactions between parties involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications by means of a case study involving a conflict between Greenpeace and six textile organizations in the sportswear/fashion industry over wastewater discharge of hazardous chemicals. The conflict is played out in a series of 20 press releases issued by the parties involved over a three-month period. The paper focuses on the nature and type of interaction by means of inter-party moves (i.e., accusation, conciliation/ dispute) and the discursive strategies used to achieve the moves. We conceptualise interaction as a debate involving attack and defence patterns (Putnam and Jones 1982) and discursive strategies (Isaacs 1993). We identify two types of interaction, namely (1) verbal acquiescence and (2) verbal jousting (indicating conflict/co-operation between the parties). These, in turn, are characterised by two types of discursive strategies, namely rhetorical strategies used to persuade and convince and argumentation techniques used to defend positions and rebut arguments.
 
Keywords: Rhetoric, Argument, CSR communication, Greenpeace.