Date of Graduation

8-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Elias Dominguez Barajas

Committee Member

Patrick J. Slattery

Second Committee Member

David A. Jolliffe

Keywords

Advertorials, Discourse Analysis, Identity Construction

Abstract

This study analyzes the ways corporate-sponsored image advertorials published in online platforms construct identities for their sponsor. By analyzing 6 advertorials from The Guardian Online as well as a user comment thread on the same website using critical linguistic analysis and conversation analysis, respectively, this study suggests that the identities constructed in corporate-sponsored advertorials are a hybridized form, claiming both the goals of a corporation and the social legitimacy of a professional activist. To construct these hybrid identities, the advertorials in this sampling used specific linguistic strategies to demonstrate agency with regard to a specific social issue while seeming to legitimize their own activism through recasting the issue itself as well as the roles of other actors, including other activists, other companies, the victims of harmful practices, or consumers. This study also suggests that the interaction of an advertorial’s host platform’s identity (in this case The Guardian Online) with that of the advertorial’s proffered hybrid identity is itself notably complex, since contradictions between these two identities provided opportunities for critical response to the advertorial’s message and the subsequent disqualification by readers of the corporate identities proffered in the advertorial.

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