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OPERATIONALIZING CRITICAL HERMENEUTICS: CONTEXTUAL ASPECT

Posted by Connie R. Aponte on January 22, 2014 in Social Constructionism |

The context aspect focus on the social, historical and institutional relations between Union Bank and its stakeholders, particularly the customers and international network of financial institutions. With regards to historical relations, Union Bank has, since inception, created strategic business relations with customers round the country. It has developed business relationships with small, medium and large scale organizations in the commerce, industry and agricultural sectors offering financial and credit support services to these organizations.

The second moment of the critical hermeneutic method involves a formal analysis of the structural (i.e. order of arrangement of pictures, body copy and corporate logo) and conventional aspects (i.e. rules or conventions) in the text via psychoanalytic criticism following Sigmund Freud’s famous tripartite model: the id, superego and ego, (see Neu, 1994; Rieff, 1979; Bateman and Holmes, 1995). This analysis was made in the three parts namely, corporate identity, corporate super-ego and corporate ego. Corporate identity is the unconscious and repressed aspects of the psyche of the organization as revealed in the text, driven by the desire to achieve a good corporate image among stakeholders. It is the unconscious aspects of the organizational psyche are the reservoirs of positive emotional response (happiness) to the fulfillment of a desire, (i.e. good corporate image). Corporate super-ego are symbolic internal policies (revealed in the text) that have become institutional, which the organization is not willing to compromise. Bank Singapore’s graduates

This is opposed to corporate identity (i.e. the unconscious aspects of the organizational psyche), which aims at the accomplishment of a good corporate image. It is the conscience of the organization, which maintains corporate ethics and sense of responsibility. Corporate ego refers to the relationship between the corporate identity (including visual identity and pictures in advertisement) and the super ego as revealed in the corporate advertisement. It aims to strike a balance between the factors that drive the unconscious desire to achieve a good corporate image and the institutional policies, which the organization will not compromise. It concerns the expression of specific facets of the unconscious aspects of the organizational psyche, which aims at the accomplishment of a good corporate image. In order to understand this pedagogy, Union Bank’s corporate advertising text is once again placed in the context of the formal moment composed of corporate identity, corporate super-ego and corporate ego.

Corporate Identity

Unconscious and repressed aspects of Union Bank’s psyche: the first unconscious and repressed aspect in this corporate advertisement is ‘‘we have put in over seventy years of service to the people of our great nation’’. Unconsciously, this sentence positions this bank as a highly experienced financial institution with goodwill. It also gives Union Bank an image of good corporate citizenship contributing actively to the development of the country. The second unconscious aspect in this advertisement is “our co-operation with government over the years for the development of agriculture, commerce and industry has established us as willing and able partners in progress”. Union Bank has contributed to the development of Nigeria by offering credit support services to businesses in the real sector including agriculture, commerce and industry. These give Union Bank a good citizenship image.

The third states: “Growing bigger, we now have over eleven thousand experienced and dutiful staff in over two hundred branches spread around urban and rural areas of the nation”. This distinguishes the bank as one of the largest employers of labour in the financial services industry. The fourth states: “and, assisted by our network of international connections and our full fledged branch in London, UNION BANK handles a fairly large chunk of foreign exchange transactions in Nigeria”. Unknown to her, this defines it as an international bank with global connections. The fifth is: ‘‘Growing stronger, we continue to set the pace with our unique Business Advisory Service – the first by any Nigerian Bank’’. The sixth is: ‘‘Union Bank is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s most profitable financial institutions” and the seventh is ‘‘the first Nigerian bank to achieve the N 1 Billion mark in its savings account balances’’. The fifth and sixth unconscious aspects of the advertisement positions Union Bank as a financially strong and liquid bank

Union Bank has consistently supported the development of industry, commerce and agriculture sectors by providing preferential credits to small, medium and large scale businesses operating in these sectors. This is one of Union Bank’s core responsibilities to firms. It is Union Bank’s super-ego, and a responsibility it is not willing to compromise.

The copy sentence: ‘‘our co-operation with government over the years for the development of agriculture, commerce and industry has established us as willing and able partners in progress’’ creates an impact on the three cartoons in the picture. The three cartoons express Union Bank’s focus and support for real sectors of the economy.

Third Step: Moment of Interpretation and Re-Interpretation

The moment of interpretation and re-interpretation is achieved through the interpretation of the result of the social historical moment and interpretation of the result of the formal moment. This is supported by power and social relations, which is the core aspect of critical hermeneutic method. The idea of integrating the interpretation of the result of the social historical moment and interpretation of the result of the formal moment grew from the sociology of advertisement (Goldman, 1992) which advocates the integration of informative and interpretive frames in advertising copies within which the sponsor of the advertisement wishes the information to be interpreted (Phillips and Brown, 1993).

With reference to the Union Bank’s corporate advertising text, one major issue excluded from this corporate advertisement and, indeed, from all advertisements syndicated in the press by Union Bank between 1986 and 2012 relates to its support for government policies. Union Bank claims in its advertising copy that it has supported the government over the years for the development of agriculture, commerce and industry. However, Union Bank Limited failed to substantiate how it had supported governments in the development of these sectors.

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