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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | International Business Communication | 2016
Thesis number: 14616
Communicating workers' wellbeing through photographs: A study on CSR websites of selected fashion companies
Author: Raitala, Essi
Title: Communicating workers' wellbeing through photographs: A study on CSR websites of selected fashion companies
Year: 2016  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; arvot; values; yhteiskuntavastuu; corporate responsibility; työntekijät; workers; semiotiikka; semiotics; visuaalinen; visual; toimialat; business branches; muoti; fashion; vaatteet; clothes
Pages: 95
Key terms: CSR; fashion companies; working conditions; semiotics; image analysis; visual communication
Objective of the study

The objective of the study was to examine how workers are portrayed in photographs on selected fashion companies' CSR corporate websites. The study focused on five fashion companies and the photographs depicting workers collected from the fashion companies' websites. Altogether 17 photographs were analyzed. It was assumed that through the photographs the fashion companies strive to convince their stakeholders about the sufficiency of their actions in terms of working conditions of the people who produce the clothing. Further, it was assumed that analyzing the photographs may provide indications about the fashion companies' overall understanding about the status of the workers.


As the research data consisted of photographs, the study adopted the semiotic image analysis method to analyze the data. The analysis was done in accordance with the analytical framework developed by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) and its three-metafunctions: representative metafunction, interpersonal metafunction and compositional metafunction.

Findings and Conclusions

The findings of the study indicated that the photographs are an effective tool in building an image about the status of the workers. The key dimensions in this respect are i) whether the worker is presented either as detached or involved with the viewer of the photograph and thus, whether the worker is seen as representing the same world with the viewer and ii) whether there is interaction between the worker and the viewer. In most of the analyzed photographs, the workers were detached from the viewer and there was no interaction between the worker and the viewer. The viewer was not expected to familiarize him- or herself with the worker. It can be assumed that this has an effect on the way the viewer cares about the wellbeing of the workers and thus, how the viewer assesses the social responsibility of the fashion company.
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