Social Semiotic Multimodal Analysis of Discourse in Banking

Amanda Janssen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    During the 2008 global financial crisis, banks were receiving the blame. During this time they changed their message in an attempt to convince customers that they were different to “Banks”. In advertisements on television and in newspapers, they distanced themselves from other banks with slogans like “Barbara lives in Bank World, but we live in your world” (Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) 2010). National Australia Bank (NAB) ran a full page advertisement depicting a coffee stained “Dear John” letter, shown in Fig. 4, advising to the world that they had “broken up” with other banks. These banks used text and visuals to persuade customers that they were not like other “normal banks”, which had caused the collapse of economies, and that they were instead much more customer-focused. Banking is an example of a specific community of practice with its own epistemology and its own approach to addressing the needs of the general public. According to Halliday (1978) and Hodge and Kress (1988) the field of social semiotics addresses how messages are used and exchanged in specific social groups. Social semiotics emerged as a means of interpreting the social dimensions of meaning and the power of human processes of signification and interpretation in shaping individuals and societies. Social semiotic enquiry is a means for humans to make sense of their lives. Kress (2010, p. 54) believes that meaning arises in social environments and through social interaction. Banks use social practices to convey meanings to their customers within the social environment of banking. A variety of semiotic resources are used to “make signs in concrete situations” (Kress and Van Leeuwen 2001, p. preface). Van Leeuwen (2005) states that social semiotics is an approach that focuses on how people apply the use of semiotic resources in their own specific fields, and where they undertake specific social practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationText-Based Research and Teaching
    Subtitle of host publicationA Social Semiotic Perspective on Language in Use
    EditorsPeter Mickan, Elise Lopez
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Electronic)9781137598493
    ISBN (Print)9781137598486
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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