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Abstract

We know little about how social entrepreneurs try to induce enactment of their cause, especially when this cause is difficult to embrace. Through a longitudinal study, we analyze how anti-plastic pollution social entrepreneurs use multimodal (visual and verbal) interactions to influence their targets and promote their cause. Our findings reveal that these social entrepreneurs used what we call emotion-symbolic work, which involved using visuals and words to elicit negative emotions through moral shock, and then transforming those emotions into emotional energy for enactment. The emotional transformation process entailed connecting target actors to a cause, a collective identity and the social entrepreneurs themselves. The exploration of emotion-symbolic work offers new ways of seeing by emphasizing the use of multimodal interactions to affect emotions in efforts to influence target actors to enact a cause.
ENERGIZING THROUGH VISUALS: HOW SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS USE
EMOTION-SYMBOLIC WORK FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
By David Barberá-Tomás jobarto@ingenio.upv.es; Itziar Castelló i.castello@surrey.ac.uk;
Frank G. A. de Bakker f.debakker@ieseg.fr; Charlene Zietsma czietsma@psu.edu
We know little about how social entrepreneurs try to induce enactment of their cause,
especially when this cause is difficult to embrace. Through a longitudinal study, we
analyze how anti-plastic pollution social entrepreneurs use multimodal (visual and
verbal) interactions to influence their targets and promote their cause. Our findings
reveal that these social entrepreneurs used what we call emotion-symbolic work, which
involved using visuals and words to elicit negative emotions through moral shock, and
then transforming those emotions into emotional energy for enactment. The emotional
transformation process entailed connecting target actors to a cause, a collective identity
and the social entrepreneurs themselves. The exploration of emotion-symbolic work
offers new ways of seeing by emphasizing the use of multimodal interactions to affect
emotions in efforts to influence target actors to enact a cause.
Key words: social entrepreneurs, multimodality, emotions, new ways of seeing, social
media.
Links: https://www.albatrossthelm.com/;
http://www.chrisjordan.com/gallery/midway/#CF000313%2018x24
Hastags: #WeAllKilledThoseBirds; #PlasticEmotions;
#AcademyofManagement;
#AOMNewWaysOfSeeing; #EmotionSymbolicWork; #plasticpollutes;
#albatross
Accepted for publication in Academy of Management Journal, 25-Jun-2019
DOI: 10.5465/amj.2017.1488
... Further, because it is a visual as well as textual medium, social media employs "multimode" communication, combining images and words to influence others' actions (Barberá-Tomás, Castelló, De Bakker, & Zietsma, 2019;Messaris, 1997;Meyer, Jancsary, Höllerer & Boxenbaum, 2018). Research on multimode communication has tended to focus on how differences in semiotics (how symbols relate to meanings); cognitive processes (e.g., comprehension, storage, recall, and associative memory); and contextual features lead images and words to have different effects (Messaris, 1997;Meyer et al., 2018). ...
... Our study contributes to the literatures on multimode communication, social judgements, and stakeholder engagement. Multimode research has often conflated communication mode and content, and traditionally considered how images attract attention and generate strong, often negative, emotions to guide behavior without regard to the cognitive effort the behavior requires (Barberá-Tomás et al., 2019;Jarvis, Goodrick & Hudson, 2019). We contribute to the literature on multimode communication by separating content and mode effects, and instead comparing the relative effects of images and words that generate positive emotions on lower-and higher-level engagement behaviors. ...
... For example, Barberá-Tomás and colleagues (2019) studied how social entrepreneurs attempted to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean by getting consumers to use less single-use plastic, rather than just encouraging them to recycle. They argued these social entrepreneurs used "visual images to evoke strong negative emotions of moral shock-including rage, sadness, and despair-among targeted actors to draw attention" and then transformed and directed these "strong emotions into emotional energy that fueled their targets' enactment of the social entrepreneurs' cause" through words (Barberá-Tomás et al., 2019: 1790. Indeed, using images to generate strong, negative emotions and words to frame interpretations and harness their energy has received significant attention (e.g., Barberá-Tomás et al., 2019;Jarvis et al., 2019). ...
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