Shopping as ‘Best Practice’ - Analyzing Walmart’s Debated Sustainability Policies

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Abstract


Nowadays, companies who want to engage environment-friendly consumers increasingly rely on green-economy oriented campaigns. Such categories of (ethical) consumers are numerically increasing, and expressions evoking environmental friendliness are becoming particularly trendy. In this vein, words such as ‘sustainability’ have been variously recontextualized/reframed and have become an ‘ought to’ for media-savvy companies ‘with a vision’ - Walmart, the American multinational retail corporation, being a relevant case in point. It is no accident that, on the first Google page for ‘sustainability’, ‘Walmart’ proudly surfaces:http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/sustainability. The company has made an explicit commitment not just to expand the business but also to improve communities and enhance the sustainability of the products they sell, by encouraging more responsible production practices, while at the same time making product choices more affordable for customers, as reported on its website. However, as the world’s largest company, Walmart is an easy target for attack mainly by environmentalists. Sometimes, Walmart gives its critics grounds for some legitimate criticism in a variety of fields ranging from the supply chain emissions to renewable energy and preserving habitat. Such criticism resonates across the media, owing to their ‘lack of closure’ (Laclau and Mouffe 1985), finalized to offer an unbiased perspective. Against this ‘complexified’ (Macgilchrist 2007) background, our study aims to examine, from a broadly Multimodal and Positive Discourse Analysis perspective, the Walmart website ‘sustainability’ pages with their variety of communicative strategies, advertising ‘responsible’ Walmart positive attitudes to fundamental issues like Energy, Waste, Products and Responsible Sourcing.

About the authors

Lucia Abbamonte

Second University of Naples

Email: lucia.abbamonte@unina2.it
Viale Beneduce 10, 81100, Caserta, Italy

Flavia Cavaliere

University of Naples Federico II

Email: fcavalie@unina.it
Via Porta di Massa 1 80133 Naples, Italy

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