A study of the use of stock images as wallpapers of CSR discourse and how digitization has facilitated its dissemination and contributed to its traceability

Rajeev Vazhappully, Alex Hope

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

The stock photograph dominates the visual content industry by promoting and distributing images that have been used extensively in marketing, advertising, news articles, multimedia and websites besides appearing in corporate documentation including CSR reports. Stock image industry has had a profound impact on the way CSR issues are visualised. An example provided by Hansen and Machin (2008) is of Getty Images (one of the leading stock image companies) and its release of what it calls ‘Green collection’ which the company identifies as a ‘marketing opportunity’. The overarching theme of this collection was the beautiful and tender nature of environment devised to mesmerize the viewer into believing that real change was happening on the ground thereby creating an alternative reality. The digitization of stock photography has meant that images are now disseminated through pre-classified digital archives that are present on agency websites. These agencies act as cultural intermediaries that promote production of images that are of a certain preconceived nature, so they may be subject to classificatory regimes while ensuring maximum profitability through repeated sales.

This study concludes 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. At the same time, a case is also made that while digitization of stock images has meant there is more widespread use of stock images in CSR discourse, it has also meant that digital traces of these images and the ability to locate its origins through various internet tools makes the study of their role in visual culture in general and their nature of use in CSR discourse easier to decipher.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
EventDoctoral and Faculty Research Conference - University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 201828 Jun 2018

Conference

ConferenceDoctoral and Faculty Research Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle upon Tyne
Period27/06/1828/06/18

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