Brands taking a stance : An analysis of Finlayson’s corporate social responsibility communication on Facebook

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Title: Brands taking a stance : An analysis of Finlayson’s corporate social responsibility communication on Facebook
Author: Jääskeläinen, Jannica
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Viestintä
Media and Communication Studies
Medier och kommunikation
Abstract: The pressure toward companies to tackle the challenges of our societies has grown higher. Consumers are expecting companies not only to consider their impact on the society in form of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but to explicitly express their stances on socio-political issues. Also, while the concept of CSR is currently being reshaped, the ways in which CSR is communicated are changing. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of how CSR is communicated in the context of social media from the perspective of new CSR. The theoretical framework of this thesis builds on literature about CSR, social movements, and CSR communication on social media. The literature review constructs a framework of new CSR, which in this study means extended responsibilities that derive from the concepts of political CSR, corporate advocacy and activism. Some of the main source materials are provided by Aronczyk (2013), Baur and Wettstein (2016), London (2010) and Schrerer and Palazzo (2011). The study approach is qualitative, and the data consists of the Finnish textile company Finlayson’s Facebook posts from 2016 to 2017. The analysis is data-driven but guided by the theoretical framework. The analysis methods used are qualitative theme analysis and frame analysis. The findings of this study indicate that Finlayson’s CSR communication is a hybrid mix of traditional and new CSR. The study finds that the main CSR-related themes Finlayson communicates are environmental protection and political grievances. The first is an indication of a traditional CSR theme, and the study implies that these kinds of traditional CSR topics have now found their way into new platforms such as social media. However, political grievances imply an orientation toward newer CSR. The company addresses controversial socio-political issues and takes stances, for instance, on LGBT rights, racism and equal pay. When it comes to the ways in which Finlayson communicates CSR, this study identifies three responsibility communication frames: the credibility frame, the captaincy frame, and the cooperation frame. The credibility frame emphasizes past CSR initiatives and communication is informative and one-way by nature. The captaincy frame emphasizes the company’s future aspirations, and responsibility is personified to the CEO of the company, thus indicating forms of CEO activism. The cooperation frame emphasizes collaboration and establishing a mutual understanding between the company and its stakeholders. Furthermore, the cooperation frame mobilizes the company’s stakeholders to take action. Thus, the results imply that new CSR should be understood as an integral part of CSR studies and that the relationship between activism and CSR has become increasingly fluid.
Subject: activism
corporate advocacy
corporate social responsibility
CSR communication
frame analysis
social media

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