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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | International Business Communication | 2015
Thesis number: 14556
Discursive legitimation strategies in the UK media: Case of book e-commerce
Author: Lankinen, Anita
Title: Discursive legitimation strategies in the UK media: Case of book e-commerce
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; strategia; strategy; diskurssianalyysi; discourse analysis; e-business; e-business; media; media; kirjakauppa; book trade; kulttuurijohtaminen; arts management
Pages: 82
Full text:
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Key terms: discursive legitimation strategy, discourse, institutional change, institution, institutional entrepreneurship, legitimation, legitimacy, critical discourse analysis, CDA, e-commerce, media
Objective of the study

The purpose of this thesis is to examine discursive the legitimation strategies used by the media when covering various events in book e-commerce in the UK, and thereby contribute to the studies of the role of language use in constructing a sense of legitimacy of institutional change. The study aims at answering the question: "How is the legitimacy of a particular institutional change constructed in the media?"


A methodology of critical discourse analysis was applied on a collection of articles gathered from three British newspapers and magazines: The Guardian, Retail Week and The Bookseller. The dataset of 156 articles written between the years 2004 and 2006 was analyzed in three steps. Firstly, a thematic analysis of the texts was conducted to single out the most significant topics in the textual material. This stage was followed by a content analysis of specific discursive legitimation strategies used respective to the themes mentioned above. For the latter stage of analysis, a framework suggesting five major legitimation strategies used by journalists for making sense of new practices in the UK book e-commerce was applied. Those five strategies were authorization, rationalization, normalization, moralization and narrativization.


Following the approach of critical discourse methodology, the study analyzed these distinctive categories of discursive legitimation strategies, signifying specific ways of making sense of, and giving sense to the changes of the market. The results of the analysis imply that each strategy type has its own distinguishing features and ways of introduction. Hence, each strategy is intended to fulfill some specific objectives in addition to the legitimation and delegitimation purposes. Furthermore, it was observed that discursive legitimation strategies are actively used in the process of the construction of institutional change and that the media is often used by the actors of the change for mobilizing allies behind their vision by using particular discursive legitimation strategies. Moreover, the study revealed that the social position of the actor producing the discourse affects the choice of the discursive legitimation strategy. Rationalization and authorization strategies appeared to be prevalent in the analyzed dataset. This means that for creating the sense of legitimacy of a practice within the e-commerce field, the journalists chose to use a formal way of presenting information, prioritizing providing objective reasoning and expert opinions over using emotional elements and an entertaining tone in the text.
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