Visuals as meaning carrying bedfellows to text- the case of stock image usage in CSR reports

Rajeev Vazhappully, Alex Hope

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


An organisation is constructed as a responsible and legitimate entity through its discursive acts and by conforming to social practices that are dominant and considered legitimate. The visual representations used by organisations in their CSR reports are highly influential in the sense-making of the readers and in constructing a social reality for them. Accounting researchers have made use of popular theories in meaning making and rhetoric to make the case that photographs are often merely symbolic representations of an organisation’s responsible behaviour. This paper reviews some of the popular theories of visual rhetoric and juxtaposes them with current knowledge of stock images leading to the conclusion that due to certain inherent characteristics of stock images-abstractness, decontextualized and polysemous nature, ambivalence, dissociation with reality and propensity to be manipulated, the nature of use of stock images in CSR discourse is similar to their use in advertising or marketing discourse where the sole intention is persuasion or deception.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018
EventHong Kong Poly U SPEED Conference - University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Jun 2018 → …


ConferenceHong Kong Poly U SPEED Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle upon Tyne
Period14/06/18 → …


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