Original Project Outline

The present project emerged from a Joint Workshop organized by the Institute of Slavic Languages WU with scholars from five Russian universities doing research in the field of corporate communication in May 2010. The event was co-funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR). It marked a first step towards an Austro-Russian network of linguists and cultural and social scientists exploring the field of corporate communication and resulted in the present Joint Project of the Institute of Slavic Languages WU and the Department of Russian Language and Verbal Communication of Saratov State University.


Project Goal and Central Hypotheses

The goal of the present project is an empirical study on “Russian Corporate Communication” exploring the matter in a discourse-analytical perspective in close cooperation between Russian and Austrian applied linguists, cultural analysts and organizational researchers. Research is based exclusively on empirical data from real-life situations (field research, recordings of verbal interactions, corporate documents and media).

The project is intended to explore a section of current Russian reality, which under president Medvedev has shown feeble signs of change and ‘modernization’, the latter being a keyword of Medvedev’s public performances. While this text is being written, Russia is experiencing a period of extreme uncertainty as to the further development of its political, and thus social and economic future, with November 2011 parliamentary elections being contested as rigged by thousands and thousands of – among others – young middle-class protesters in the streets of Russia’s major cities, and with presidential elections and the expected return of Vladimir Putin ahead. As Stephen Holmes convincingly argues in his review of Luke Harding’s book titled “Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia” (London Review of Books 5 January 2012, 23-26), referring with this appraisal to Aleksei Navalny, one of the instigators of the anti-regime demonstrations: “the much publicised vertical power structure is a ‘fiction’” (Holmes 2012, 23). Holmes substantiates his appraisal by pointing to the inability of Putin’s team to control the activities of Russia’s secret services who “certainly aren’t on a mission to preserve the Kremlin’s domination of the country” and whose “record of fighting terrorism is … poor – perhaps they are too busy extorting money from big business”; to his inability to “compel public sector employees to stop embezzling and extorting” and to “force government officials to put their department responsibilities before their personal cupidity and commit themselves to their community’s well-being”. Instead, Holmes interprets the “pervasive role of nepotism in the distribution of both public property and financially exploitable positions in government of state controlled enterprises” as a sign of “the institutional corrosion of the system”. Holme’s unusual view of the situation contradicts the widely spread comparison of Putin’s Russia with the authoritarian Soviet-style state and deconstructs the Putin regime’s own flirts with images the Soviet era, arguing that – in contrast to current Russian reality – the Soviet system was in control of its secret services and its bureaucracy.  Nevertheless, the degree of interweavement of politics, big business, the media and the country’s bureaucracy is enormous, the future development uncertain, foreign investors are increasingly hesitant to invest. As a matter of fact, such conditions do have their effects on the establishment and running of business organizations and inevitably shape the communication of and within corporations in a certain way. Summing up, the present project is striving to trace the effects of the current state of affairs as well as possible future developments in Russian corporate communication and will therefore be of interest not only to linguists and slavists, but equally so to social, economic and organizational scientists, and to business people.


Fields of inqiry:

(1)    Theorising organizational communication / methodology of its investigation;

(2)    the cultural/societal and organizational context of Russian corporations, their language politics, language designing as well as terminological developments;

(3)    aspects of verbal corporate communication (linguistic analysis of genres reaching from telephone conversations, meetings, briefings, negotiations, and job interviews through to self-presentations in PR documents and advertising with a special interest in corporate value communication and identity construction)

(4)    aspects of non-verbal  corporate communication (semiotic/ discourse analyses of preferred national cuisines for business meetings or staff canteens, corporate dress-codes, and body language in business organizations)

(5)    international aspects of corporate communication (the international presence of Russian companies and their perception abroad);

The findings in each of these fields of inquiry will be contextualised, i.e. interpreted within the organizational context within which they occur and explained as a product of and instrument within its organizational and wider social context, as provided by the methodology of Critical Discourse Analysis.

To our knowledge, to the present day, there is no concise empirical study dedicated to Russian corporate communication, neither in Russian nor in Western Slavistics, nor in the field of organizational studies, even less so one viewing the subject matter from a CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis) perspective – and it is precisely this gap in the research which we intend to fill with our project.

Problem Statement

The present project is exploring the on-going process of an establishing Russian business culture at an interesting stage of its possible restructuring. The vicissitudes of the Russian economy of the past twenty years were marked by the great privatization waves of the early 1990s, when key Russian industries such as oil, gas and other natural resources changed their proprietors, when – in a situation of financial shortage (empty pension pool and lacking means for social spending) – the Russian state offered private investors blocks of stock in companies such as YUKOS, Sibneft or Nornikel in return for loans (cf. Fedjukin in “Kommersantъ VLAST‘” online No. 13 (867) 05.04.2010), resulting in the phenomenon termed ‘oligarch capitalism’. Russia “took on the role of a raw material supplier for the West” showing “all the characteristics of a ‘peripheral country’ within the global economy” and a highly corrupt bureaucracy (cf. Kagarlitskii 2003, 491). In the Putin era – and with the active support of the latter’s administration – Russian capitalism turned “from oligarchic to bureaucratic”, while – according to some commentators –politically Russian society experienced a “tightening of the screws” and a “strengthening of authoritarianism” (Kagarlitskii 2003, 516). President Medvedev’s attempts to restrain corruption and bureaucratic arbitrariness by legislative acts, e.g. an act passed in 2009 prohibiting external audits of companies without prior accord with the public prosecutor, which was meant to prevent state officials from blackmailing small and middle-size entrepreneurs by threatening to close them down for a month on suspicion of irregularities if they did not pay the amounts of bribes demanded (cf. Chuvilyaev in “Kommersantъ DEN’GI“ online No. 38 (795) 27.09.2010) did not show sweeping effects. Thus, even back in 2010, a Russian commentator reproached Western observers of wrongly calling Russian bureaucracy insufficient: in fact – he argued – it is extremely efficient in its activities; it is just that it has different criteria of efficiency and a different understanding of responsibility, seeing state administration not as a service for the nation but as big business (cf. Inosemzew 2010). Very recently, prime-minister and candidate for Russian presidency Vladimir Putin has come forth with an article in Vedomosti (30.01.2012) sketching out his view of Russia’s future economic development under a newly elected president Putin: catchwords of his considerations are technological innovation and diversification of the economy, fighting “systemic corruption” which he termed the “central problem” for Russian business, the reduction of state interference and regulation at a time when “regulatory methods are lagging behind their best analogies”. This, in brief, is the macro-context within which corporations in Russia pursue their day-to-day business. On a micro-level this corresponds to such phenomena as “Russian companies tend[ing] to pay official and unofficial salaries” by which they not only reduce social taxation, but also handle “non-authorized work on holidays, during vacations, and overtime hours”, “unofficial income [being] even accepted by international banks providing loans for Russian citizens” (Denisova 2008, 3).

The Institute of Slavic Languages of the Vienna University of Economics and Business has long been monitoring linguistic change in Russian corporate communication. Pertinent research at the Institute is not starting from zero, but can rely on notable previous research: projects realized so far were concerned with such questions as the change of economic concepts under market conditions, examples of linguistically based empirical research and discourse analysis including ‘performance’ (project head: Marion Krause/Partners: Magda Schulmeisterová , WU Wien, Michael Fleischer, Wroclaw, Irina Pshenichnikova, St. Petersburg, 2005-2008, Financial support: Erste Bank’s CEE fund, WU Wien), ‘market’, ‘quality’, ‘profit’, and ‘money’ in Russian and Czech public and private discourse (project head: Renate Rathmayr, ‘Market discourse as an indicator of globalization and transformation. A discourse analysis of key concepts of market economy in Russia and the Czech Republic’, sponsored by the OeNB Anniversary Fund, 2001-2003). Apart from this, empirical research so far has been dedicated to changes in the area of verbal courtesy, the focus being on public signage and customer relations in the service sector (project head: Renate Rathmayr, 2004-2008), the building of national identity in Russia’s economy, studied – among other things – through the example of advertising discourse and economic nomenclature (project head: Edgar Hoffmann, 2004-2008), or dress as part of self-fashioning practices of post-soviet subjects (Katharina Klingseis, 2006-2009, funded by FWF). Current research of institute members is dedicated to the role of international cuisines in intercultural business relations (Edgar Hoffmann), self-presentation and self-management in oral corporate communication through the example of job interviews in Russian companies (Renate Rathmayr), values and standards communicated in corporate documentation on the web in Russia (Dionisi Nikolov) and the functioning of dress-codes in Russian corporations (Katharina Klingseis), to name just a few. Pertinent publications cf. “References”.

Project Partner and Mode of Cooperation

The Russian project partner is a team of applied linguists headed by Dr Tatjana Alekseevna Milekhina, Professor at the Department of Russian Language and Verbal Communication, Institute of Philology and Journalism, and her team. The – apart from Prof. Milekhina – consists of Dr N.A. Bobarykina, lecturer at Saratov State University, Dr S.A. Risinzon, lecturer at the Dpt. of Foreign Languages at Saratov Technical State University, and Dr O.N. Strukova, lecturer at the Dpt. of Russian Language and Oral Communication at Saratov State University. Given Prof. Milekhina’s great experience in empirical socio-linguistics in general, and socio-linguistics in the field of business communication in particular (cf. Milekhina 2003, 2004 a, b, 2006 ), but also the professional and personal relationship that connects her with the Institute of Slavic Languages WU, the Saratov colleagues form a perfect complement to the Viennese team. Within the Joint Project, the Russian partners receive funding from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR).

It is our explicit and common aim to render a new and unconventional view on Russian corporate communication by a close exchange of theoretical prerequisites, data materials and research findings between the Russian and Austrian sides who, in addition to their different national backgrounds have their professional origins in various disciplines: applied linguistics, linguistic pragmatics, discourse analysis, sociology, cultural semiotics, and organizational studies. In contrast to conventional linguistic studies of communication, we will unite our interdisciplinary efforts in order to interpret Russian corporate communication within the context of current social and economic developments. For this purpose, apart from intensive e-mail exchanges on a day-to-day routine, researchers will exchange their findings and considerations in several workshops (the first of which took place in Vienna in November 2011, the second being scheduled for July 2012). Furthermore, the Saratov partners will render academic and practical support to the two Austrian project collaborators, Dr Therese Garstenauer and Ekaterina Ivanova, MA, in their field research trips to Russia.

State of the Art

Literature of central importance to our endeavour is found, above all, in Critical Discourse Analysis – below referred to as CDA – (cf. Fairclough 1989, 2005, Chouliaraki/Fairclough 2010, Wodak 2001, Wodak/ Puntscher Riekmann 2003, Mautner 2000, 2009). Apart from this, our work was inspired by such writing in the field of organizational studies as Townley (2008), Leclercq-Vandelannoitte (2011), Clark (2000), Hardy (1995), Iedema (2003) a. o., work resting centrally on the Foucauldian concepts of ‘discourse’ and ‘power’ (cf. McKinlay/ Taylor 1998). Although there is quite some linguistic literature available on corporate communication and some of it also inspiring in certain methodological aspects, as is shortly outlined below, the CDA approach has rarely been applied to the field of corporate communication so far, let alone Russian corporate communication.

As to linguistic literature on corporate communication in Russia, Troshina (2009) rendered a concise survey of this kind of literature focussing on intercultural communication, rhetoric and business etiquette, but also on aspects of corporate culture and the selves that it produces. The features these works have in common are that, by and large, they integrate normative-prescriptive philological approaches with management and marketing ‘How-to’ literature (cf. Anisimova/ Gimpel’son 2007). The Russian book-market has experienced a real flood of managerial guide-books since the early 1990s, many of them translations of their U.S. equivalents. Although interesting as a discourse phenomenon, these works are in strong contrast to what we are planning here, i.e. empirical research with a critical edge and an explanatory intention.

Empirically based linguistic analysis of corporate communication in Russia is available (cf. Zemskaia/ Krysin 1998, Podberezkina 2006, Kitaigorodskaia/ Krysin eds. 2008 a.o.), however, these authors’ thrust is predominantly in identifying and describing repertoires of pragmatic tools and their diachronic modifications (during so-called transition, and not in linguistic analysis as a mode of social analysis.

Critical Discourse Analysis and its Application in Organizational Studies

The innovative factor distinguishing the present research interest from that of preceding pertinent research is its focus on the interaction of language (in a very broad sense including communication by visual means and artefacts) and power structures in corporate communication, and the embedding of the latter within a broader social/political context.

Proceeding centrally on the Critical Discourse Analysis methodological paradigm, our project will draw upon organization and management theory taking issue with the essentially power-structured character of organizations. Our work will take a ‘structural’ perspective on the actual processes of decision-making, instructing, sanctioning, controlling, and negotiating, in short on the mechanisms regulating the relationships between members of a corporation and the ways hierarchies are operated in everyday practice. Research on corporate communication from a CDA perspective will also be interested in the subjectifying effects of communication within power structures, i.e. the way individuals turn into subjects of specific organizations as an effect of “power/knowledge” (Foucault 1980), a process that results in corresponding “identities” with corresponding modes and spaces of action. Research on corporate communication in a CDA perspective will furthermore shift focus from studying “organizations” to studying “organizing” as “action” within a concrete organizational context (Townley 2008, 210). Social and gender hierarchies in corporate communication will be major concerns in our research.

Our project on Russian Corporate Communication is

  • taking an innovative view of the ‘cultural’ as an aspect of management by being substantially empirical, tightly anchored in current real-life data material (corporate discourse and practice –recordings of speech, organizations’ self-representation in PR and other documents, physical objects and visual images), guided by a well-defined methodological design (see below), by relying on close cooperation between Russian and Austrian researchers (a design uniting “inside” and “outside” perspectives and compensating for inevitable blind spots) and by its interdisciplinary approach (providing for intensive exchange between linguists, cultural analysts and organizational researcher).

  • producing empirical findings that will be of interest to Slavic linguists and social scientists with an interest in the Russian version of capitalism.

  • consider a broad spectrum of aspects reaching from a whole range of verbal communication genres, verbal self-presentations of corporations in various media as objectifications of corporate discourse (in which identities and value-systems are constructed) through to such kinds of semiotic production and non-verbal communication as corporate dress-codes and souvenirs.

  • involving researchers from various disciplines;

  • focussing on the entanglement of communication with power.

A study of Russian Corporate Communication based on CDA as planned here is a thrust of innovation in the field of Slavistic linguistics in general and Russian linguistics in particular; it is an innovative step in organizational studies as well, which – apart from a few exceptions – have not taken issue with Russian corporations from a critical perspective and in such comprehensive way so far.


Interdisciplinarity and internationality

Such an endeavour necessarily needs to be interdisciplinary and international. Our project will therefore unite researchers from applied linguists, cultural studies and organizational studies. Furthermore, the project is designed as an Austro-Russian endeavour: it would be difficult for Western researchers alone to approach such a matter without closely cooperating with Russian colleagues, whose ‘internal perspective’ on the subject enables invaluable insights that would inevitably escape the eye of even the best-prepared Austrian researcher. In turn, ‘outside perspectives’ will inevitably register what would remain invisible to the Russian eye. As M. Erdheim once argued, each society has its repressed collective unconscious, which can only be retrieved in the contacts with another society. In a similar vein, M. Bakhtin spoke of the “mirror” in which we can see what has been repressed to the collective unconscious in our own society.

Close cooperation with Russian institutions and colleagues is also inevitable for such an endeavour for purely practical reasons: Russian researchers have access to corporations and situations to an extent Western researchers would never be allowed to advance to (e.g. permission for interview recordings of real-life business situations, frankness in interviews); they enjoy the advantage of being ‘one of us’. In turn, foreign researchers will spot details that remain unnoticed to their Russian colleagues, as to them they are situated on a habitual, unconscious level (cf. Bourdieu 1977). Only the foreigner’s attention being caught by a phenomenon will make it an issue and have it explicated. This state of affairs requires intensive exchange between all researchers involved in the project.

Avoiding social constructivist reductions

Our project is predicated on the assumption that discourse and other elements of the social (institutions, practices, including their materiality) are mutually constitutive without one being reducible to the other. Accordingly, our conception of discourse will be what Chouliaraki/Fairclough termed a “relational-dialectic” one (2010, 1213), meaning that “social relations, power, institutions, beliefs, and cultural values are in part discursive in the sense that they ‘internalize’ discourse without being reducible to it” (ibid., 1215; our italics), recognising however that they are, equally, in part not. As a consequence, we are viewing corporate discourse as functioning within organizational and power structures, which means to take issue with problems of the ideological component of corporate discourse, with domination, but also with subversion (cf. Mumby 1988 and 2004). Notwithstanding the dialectics of discursive and non-discursive features of corporate cultures we are keeping these features apart analytically and have them enter into a dialogue in regular project meetings, confronting linguistic findings with findings of (critical) organizational studies. This we hope to manage by involving an organizational analyst in the project (Ekaterina Ivanova, MA). In contrast to more social-constructivist views we assume that corporations represent pre-structured realities with which employees are confronted before they can go about possibly transforming them in their (more or less coordinated) everyday interactions; they are “socially produced ‘permanencies’ (…) and sets of affordances and limitations”, which – we agree - are “subject to the transformative potential of social agency” (Fairclough, undated online-paper, p. 3) – and to discourse! We are of course aware of the fact that such social structures are always historical effects of prior social practices, such as discursive representation (in visual and verbal semiotic ‘corporate texts’ of various kinds), corporate interactions (verbal, non-verbal, formal or informal – e.g. the informal practice of bribery, of nepotism, informal mutual support and solidarity), and acts of identification with or delimitation from positions offered by a ‘corporate culture’, but also of such external factors as national legislation (e.g. regulating employment, competition among corporations etc.)

‘Corporate Culture’ in a CDA Framework

According to “New Management” philosophy, ‘corporate culture’ is understood to be a means of “assimilating” employees to corporate goals. The shared belief of a great deal of management literature can be summarized by the title of a Russian HRM guidebook “Corporative Culture as an instrument of effective human resource governance” (Orig. “Korporativnaya kul‘tura kak instrument effektnogo upravleniya personalom", Vasilenko 2009). We principally share this point of view; however, we do so from a critical aspect: we agree that corporate culture is indeed intended as a means of governance in the sense that it instigates individuals’ self-control processes in the interest of the corporation. Spelling out our concept of ‘corporate culture’ in the following paragraph, we will – slightly modifying Diaz-Bone (2002) – explicate the latter as a system of dialectic relations between (1) the hierarchically structured social space of any organization or corporation (structures meaning the relations of various social positions within corporations); (2) the space of corporate practices where explicit or implicit ‘corporate philosophies’ materialize and visualize (e.g. in codes of behaviour, dress-codes, the design of corporate space and artefacts, the choice of national cuisines for corporate events etc); and (3) the space of corporate discourse, of cultural orders of knowledge where ‘corporate philosophies’ are verbalized. While Diaz-Bone’s model was meant for conceptualizing “lifestyles” that develop ‘organically’ within a certain society, ‘corporate cultures’ are often – though not necessarily – the effects of management strategies and imposed from above by regulating certain aspects of the above mentioned architecture of spaces, be these structural (“flat organizations”), concerning corporate practices (e.g. imposition of “dress-codes”, corporate leisure activities etc.) or corporate discourse (e.g. propagating a ‘corporate philosophy’). In other words, a ‘corporate culture’ is a concise ideological apparatus producing – at best, but not inevitably – ideal corporate subjects. The “collective striving for coherence” (our transl. from German original) that Diaz-Bone observes in ‘organically grown’ lifestyles and explains by a “tendency towards a homology” or a “coupling of structures” shared by social groups and constituting their identity (Diaz-Bone 2002, 128-129) may – as we would assume and will have to verify – be less pronounced or even subverted in cases when a ‘corporate culture’ is imposed ‘from above’. Nevertheless, Diaz-Bones conceptual frame is very helpful in conceptualizing the interdependence of ‘spaces’ of interest in this project – the space of social structures, the space of social practices, and the space of discourse.


Organizational analysis in a CDA perspective will allow us to do justice to our assumption of the dialectical and mutually constituting relationships between discourse, social structures and practices. Such an approach will result triangulations of the findings achieved by one approach – e.g. linguistic analysis – by the other approaches (e.g. organization analysis). One set of findings will render the ‘context’ for the others. Furthermore, all findings will be reflected in the light of historical as well as current socio-cultural, economic and political conditions of Russian society. For, some phenomena may be a heritage of the Soviet era, others may be rooted in the dramatic societal change of the 1990s when the foundations of a market economy were laid and still others may represent reactions to more recent social, economic or political developments. Context is thus to be defined in dependency to the respective question. It is “an analytical construct that emerges within specific research questions and seeks to define the specific articulation of moments that is relevant to the constitution of specific bodies of organizational texts” (Chouliaraki/Fairclough 2010, 1215). In constituting their relevant contexts, researchers will resort to pertinent academic literature (cf. Volkov 2002, Kagarlitskii 2003, Krichevskii 2009, Oushakine 2009, Shevchenko 2009, to name just a few) as well as to Russian media.

Data generation

Generation of data implies field research in Russia, first and foremost, but not exclusively, for the two project collaborators. They will do interviewing and recording of real-life communication events in Russian corporations as relevant to their research tasks, i.e. the study of organizational structures (Ekaterina Ivanova, MA) and language policies (Dr. Therese Garstenauer), and complement data corpora already available at the Institute of Slavic Languages in Vienna and the Institute of Philology and Journalism in Saratov (team meetings, internal telephone conversations, job interviews, negotiations, informal work-place conversations a.o.). Companies are being selected – apart from the criterion of  accessibility, which is expected to be higher with large-size companies (among them also multinationals) – by the criterion of their having branch offices in other Russian cities. This circumstance will allow researchers to draw comparisons between ways of communicating and organizing within one and the same company in the capital and in the regions respectively.

Apart from guided interviews, the internet is serving as an important data source (e.g. for studying corporate PR, value communication and identity politics, for the dress-code and the advertising studies as well as the study on the role of national cuisines); materials from “Integrum” data base – the most important data base for Russian media– is available. Some colleagues intend to complement their data by (electronic) questionnaires. Flick 2009 and Bauer/Gaskell 2000 are central references for the task of data generation.

Methods of text and conversation analysis

A project uniting a number of researchers from various disciplines and ‘schools’ within disciplines will have to allow for a great variety of individual approaches, depending on the task to be accomplished (cf. types of data as specified in “Generation Data” above), while still warranting theoretical holism by making sure that the various approaches are mutually compatible and governed by the same overarching scientific interest: a power-sensitive view of Russian corporate communication. As we share Vygotsky’s (1986) view that “higher order psychological processes are reflections of social processes”, we are interested in “conversation” not as much as in an interaction going on between two or more individuals who – in doing so – constitute a situation, as ethnomethodologists would be, but rather, we understand an interaction as predefined to a considerable degree by a number of structural features such as professional, functional, social  (proprietary), gendered, and very often also ethnic hierarchies, which precede individual interaction. We agree that a situation can possibly be modified in the course of the interaction, but only in very rare cases its structuring preconditions can be substantially changed. So, even if conversation analysis is used in this project, its findings will be interpreted as effects of certain structural features rather than ad hoc productions. This is what will divide our project from the more social-constructivist views very popular in certain directions of modern organizational studies.

A second overarching principle with respect to text and conversation analysis concerns the “common sense” assumptions implied in conventions of everyday speech and practices that contribute to sustaining power relations within an organization or corporation (cf. Fairclough 1989, 77). It is this “common sense” which we are trying to identify and present in its functioning within the social structures under scrutiny, posing to ourselves the question: “what conception of the world must a person have in order to say or make sense of an utterance like this” (cf. ibd., 79). What does this or that “wording” tell us about the – possibly not explicated – “knowledge and beliefs” of the respective text producers, about the “relationships” between participants in verbal communication (text producers/recipients), and about the “social identities” that effect such text production (cf. ibd., 74). These principal questions can be posed to all kinds of texts analysed in this project, be these (recordings of) face-to-face exchanges, speeches and addresses, corporations’ mission statements, guided interviews and even visual representations. Accordingly, researchers will pay special attention to the “experiential”, “relational”, and “expressive values” of formal linguistic features (ibd., 112), disclosing such features as a corporate philosophy (“common sense”/ “ideology”), corporate structures/relations and identifications within and of the corporation.

Analysis of material/visual objects as aspects of corporate communication

For analysing material/visual features of corporate communication, approaches compatible with the CDA research interest are being applied. Analysis thereby ranges from revealing pertinent “knowledge structures” (ideas, attitudes, beliefs) in interviews and guide-books (cf. Diaz-Bone 2006 [19]) to traditional semiotic analysis of photographic material and artefacts (Bystrova 2009 and Bystrova/ Khismatulin 2009 on visual corporate communication and design). Interpretations will be informed by pertinent theoretical considerations made by Barthes (1977), Bourdieu (1984), Hall/du Gay (2000), Hall (2003), McRobbie (2004, 2010), Diaz-Bone (2002) and other authors, who have one thing in common: they all understand the meaning of artefacts or visual features as arising from their production and use within certain social practices and their functioning within power structures. Thus, the meanings of artefacts may be studied in their ‘representational’ capacity, e.g. for status representation, but also in their capacity to convey or shape individual or corporate ‘identity’. Both the representational and the identitary capacities of an artefact may be linked to its various ‘production’ aspects (e.g. ‘hand-made’ vs. ‘mass-production’, ‘home-made’ vs. ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Turkey’, ‘Made in Germany’ etc.)

In view of the diversity of approaches applied, individual findings are being subjected to intensive exchange and discussion among the researchers cooperating in a certain field of interest, and interpretation will be guided by the research interest described, the interest in the cultural as a factor of the social, i.e. of power processes, for “large-scale social inequalities are established, not at the level of direct institutional discrimination, but through the subtle inculcation of power relations upon the bodies and dispositions of individuals. This process of corporeal inculcation is an instance of what Bourdieu calls symbolic violence or a form of domination which is ‘exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity’” (Lois McNay 2000, 36).

Contextualizing findings from data analyses

Such an inter-disciplinary and international research framework will require a great deal of discussion between representatives of more socially oriented linguistic approaches and more cognitive approaches on the one hand, and the organizational researcher and her colleagues from linguistics and cultural analysis on the other, but we expect this polylogue to render fresh and unexpected insights. It also explains the considerable requirement of travelling costs of this project. And it requires the permanent extension of the repertoire of literature on Russian business as well as Russian society as a whole (systematic collection of articles in ‘KommersantЪ‘ and other pertinent media as well as pertinent scientific literature as by Volkov 2002, Gudkov 2007, Gudkov 2008, Oushakine 2009, Shevchenko 2009, to name just a few authors exploring current or very recent developments in Russian society).

Dissemination Strategies

The project is designed to result in a monograph appearing in print. Apart from this, participants will in the course of the project publish individual articles in pertinent journals and anthologies. In accordance with FWF’s Open Access Policy, we commit ourselves to making publications emerging from the present project freely available at the ePubWU Institutional Repository (http://www.wu.ac.at/bizcomm/onlinepapers) and/or the homepage of the project (http://www.wu.ac.at/slawisch/research/actual_projects/ruscorpcom) except for legal restrictions imposed by publishers lasting for more than six months, in which case we will explicitly mention to this publisher the FWF's open access policy.

We expect our research to render results relevant far beyond the disciplinary boundaries of applied linguistics, cultural studies and the social sciences in general: we expect it to be of special interest for all those interested in Russian society in general and in Russian business in particular.

Apart from its effects in the academic and business fields, we expect our project to mark a decisive step in Austro-Russian scientific cooperation and the establishment of a stable and productive network of Austrian and Russian applied linguists, cultural and organizational analysts and sociologists engaged in the exploration of the socio-economic development in Russia.


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