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Discourse and Identity in the Professions

Legal, Corporate and Institutional Citizenship

Series:

Vijay K. Bhatia and Paola Evangelisti Allori

Professional identities are not only constructed through discourse, but can also be studied and analysed through discourse and communication behaviour, which is probably the most powerful resource available for the understanding of their nature and function. The present volume investigates the ways in which the discourses produced in a variety of professional contexts, especially in business, legal and institutional spheres of action, shape and manifest professional identities.
The focus of the studies in this collection is on whether, and to what extent, the in-group identity of a given professional community and the norms elaborated by it affect the communicative behaviour of the individual participant or whether, and to what extent, the professional communication is also affected by the participant’s specific objectives in the performance of that professional practice.
Most of the studies reported here employ discourse and genre analytical and corpus linguistics tools to highlight the ways and means by which discourses contribute to the analysis of typical identity traits of various professional communities to provide some account of the way members of these professional communities strategically manipulate linguistic resources to achieve their professional objectives.

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I. Corporate Citizenships

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VIJAY K. BHATIA Contested Identities in Corporate Disclosure Documents1 1. Overview The present-day world of business, trade and commerce is becomingly increasingly global as the trade restrictions across national borders are dismantling, thus leading to corporate mergers to create multination- als. At the same time, businesses are also becoming intensely com- petitive, invariably targeting massive markets across the globe. In ad- dition, with the rapidly accessible opportunities for the use of multi- media, the process of trading itself has changed considerably, in the sense that promotion and advertising activities have become the most important instruments of creating distinct markets. At the same time, corporate identities are also seen to play a significant role in corporate performance. Melewar (2003: 195) rightly argues that the availability of unlimited media information and choices on the market, increas- ingly informed and sophisticated consumers (Bickerton 1999), lower traditional barriers to entry, changes in trade channels, decentralized organizational structures, and an increased number of mergers and acquisitions (Ind 1992; Melewar/Harrold 2000) are some of the fac- tors which have contributed to raising interest in corporate identity. He goes on to add, Corporate identity is regarded as a strategic resource for building credibility and support amongst a variety of stakeholders and gaining competitive advantage in this new business environment. It is widely accepted that corporate audiences rely on the reputations of firms in making investment decisions, career deci- sions and product choices (Dowling 1986). 1 The chapter draws on the work supported by a grant from the...

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