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Textuality and Contextuality

Cross-Cultural Advertising from the Perspective of High- vs. Low-Context Cultures in Europe


Aneta Smolińska

This study offers a contrastive analysis of culturally grounded differences in discourse by comparing advertising strategies in three European languages: (British) English, French and Polish. Taking a critical stance and considering changes through globalisation, the author aims to find out to what extent the classic distinction between high-context (individualist) and low-context (collectivist) cultures can be empirically maintained. To paint a differentiated picture, the investigation combines findings from Sociology, Anthropological and Discourse Linguistics and uses both quantitative and qualitative methods. The data reveal ground-breaking differences in the use of foreign languages, the relation between text and images and the interaction between advertising images and readers.

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Series editor’s introduction


Amei Koll-Stobbe (University of Greifswald)

This doctoral dissertation at the interface of Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, and Discursive Linguistics developed from a master’s thesis on advertising fragrance at the University of Lancaster, and represents the ninth volume in my series Language Competence and Language Awareness in Europe. The quantitative and qualitative study on culture-specific advertising strategies in a globalizing consumer culture is embedded into the theoretical framework of high- versus low-context cultures established by the sociologist Hall in the 1960s (1959–1991), and his follower Hofstede (2000–2005), who compared high-context collectivist cultures, and low-context individualistic cultures in contexts of business communication (IBM). By her empirical analyses of marketing and advertising strategies, Mooij, a more recent follower of Hall’s and Hofstede’s theory, set the ground for the author’s empirical project that is complemented by close content analyses grounded in conceptions and theoretical frameworks from linguistic determinism to social semiotics and cognitive constructionism. The three studied language cultures (English [UK], French [France] and Polish [Poland]) can be affiliated statistically with discursive styles of high-context (French advertisements), low-context (English [UK] advertisements), and predominantly high-context-cultures (Polish advertisements). Polish advertising strategies, however, also document features of low-context cultural styles that may have developed after the socio-economic changes in Poland following the political and economic post-soviet upheaval seventeen years ago.

The complex qualitative analyses of advertising as interactive discourse show that cultural context is contributing, directly or indirectly, to the construal of global as well as local messages in the...

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