12016A Watchdog’s Burial. A Contribution to Cynological Media Theory (Jan KŘEČEK) – no 1

Branding the Nation in the Digital Era: Why Don’t You Come Over? (Roxana-Elena POPA) – no 1

L’imaginaire numérique et les formes communicatives (Fabio LA ROCCA) – no 1

La survie par les objets. La passion de la collection dans le roman et le musée d’Orhan Pamuk (Cristina BOGDAN) – no 1

Le multiculturalisme. Urgence d’un effort d’adaptation de la communication publique (Cristian Florin POPESCU) – no 1

Live Drawing. Visual Performance Models in the Real and the Virtual Space (Sînziana ȘERBĂNESCU) – no 1

Pratiques journalistiques et nouvelles technologies. Recherche sur les jeunes journalistes roumains (Romina SURUGIU, Sorin LAZĂR, Cristina ILCO) – no 1

Presidential Elections in Romania (November 2014). A Semio-Functional Analysis (Nicolae-Sorin DRĂGAN) – no 1

Speaking to so Many an Audience: How Language Enables the Communication of Culture (Mohamed BELAMGHARI) – no 1

Structuralism and the Concern with Communication (Scott TIMCKE) – no 1

The Sultan and His Janissaries. Gheorghe Hagi and the Golden Era of Galatasaray Istanbul (Octavian GABOR) – no 1

Values and Their Communication in the Advertising Discourse. FMCG’s (Vasile HODOROGEA) – no 1

Speaking to so Many an Audience: How Language Enables the Communication of Culture

University Mohamed I
Oujda/ Morocco


It is commonly putative that communication is an integral feature of culture and that it plays a vital role in its dissemination. The communication of culture, indeed, has always been at the heart of many philosophical as well as sociological debates. With the intensification of attempts to engage in intercultural dialogues, cultures have had the chance to get incorporated into an increasingly multilingual and multicultural world. Still an important point is the fact that language has been a key marker in the spread of any culture and on a global scale. However, not all languages can be handy in doing the communicational job, rather the careful choice of a global language is what makes a difference in all cultural dialogues. To this end, many Moroccan and African writers, as highlighted in this paper, have put all their trust in English as a global language having the potency to transmit their messages and take up the mission of communication successfully to reach so many an audience worldwide. In this sense, this paper seek out to advance a perception of the intercultural dimension in communication. Its inclination to endorse a thoughtful view of the relationship between language and intercultural communication is perceived as a contribution, on the one hand, to a writer’s self-assertion and, on the other hand, to transnational understanding, interchange and collaboration between nations of the world.

Keywordsculture, communication, intercultural communication, representation, the Subaltern voice. 


Knowing yourself is not so much about introspection and interaction. To know yourself is to realize that you are more than the little self that has been given to you by your history — the pattern that others made — that your true self is, in truth, much larger and includes other people, other cultures, other species even. That life is less about being and more about interbeing. We come to know ourselves, then, through coming to know each other. And the deeper that knowledge, the richer and more creative the world we build together.

Danny Martin, Director of ICRE (International Communities

for the Renewal of the Earth)


Without mutual knowledge there can be no mutual understanding; without understanding, there can be no trust and respect; without trust, there can be no peace, only the danger of conflict. This means we have to be willing and able to familiarize ourselves with the way people of other cultures think and perceive the world around them, but without losing our own standpoint in the process.

Roman Herzog, President of Germany




Right from its inception, the concept of culture has generated hotly disputed debates among scholars as to what it specifically means and the kind of compartmentalizations it designates. In fact, culture has come to nestle quite finely in synonymity, with quite different but still interrelated disciplines. Mention can be made of a set of societal as well as global complex collection of knowledge, folklore, language, rituals, habits, lifestyles, attitudes, beliefs and customs, to mention but a few, around which people have come to organize themselves in quite many different ways. Put in easier terms, each tribe or collectivity, for instance, would attempt to communicate and underscore its differences from another one by means of language, art, or clothing, among many others, thereby culminating in many cultural blocks each trying to rise culturally different subjects in its own way.

Some scholars have argued that, not only is communication a necessary feature of culture, communication by itself is a means accounting for the emergence of culture. To comprehend why, it is indispensable to be unequivocal about what culture is, thereby setting clear cut distinctions between the kinds of forms it can take in our multicultural world. As far as Alessandro Duranti is concerned, culture is such an intricate and composite concept that it may seem, at the first glance, a far-fetched objective to work out an all-inclusive characterization of it (Duranti, 1977). In support of such claim, Edward B. Tylor in his book, Primitive Culture, goes on to say that culture is “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” (Tylor, 1871) Therefore and by definition, culture is generally taken to be something that is transmitted from a person to another and thus passed on from a generation to another. In its general sense, the definition of culture seems to adhere to the different compartments necessary to social groupings, and which people come to identify as a set of beliefs, customs, symbols or characteristics that are shared by a group of people. These shared characteristics are, most of the time, different from the set of beliefs, customs, symbols or characteristics shared by other distinct groups of people.

Lurking within such a definition are three main structures of reasoning. The first is that cultures are distinctive from each other, and this dissimilarity is the main constituent making up its peoples’ identities. Second is that we can deem cultures to be in opposition to each other, and that each culture groups its people under a set of practices that govern their way of identifications and living. Finally, it can be argued that cultures, regardless of their oppositions, can both communicate and, sometimes, miscommunicate their dissimilarities to each other. However, one might wonder whether the communication of cultures is conditioned to yield peaceful results and contribute to understanding and dialogue among the same cultures, or, on the contrary, pave the way for a culture to dominate and expunge over another “weak”[1] one. More than that, in what way does communication matter to cultures?

As human beings, we are fundamentally driven by our curiosity to identify things with buoyancy, thereby obtain validation for our discernments.  To some extent, this epistemic need, if any, may help explain why culture exists at all.  Our epistemic needs compel us to communicate with others, for the sake of not only obtaining and having an idea about their knowledge, but also to quench our thirst and ease our curiosity with regard to the unusual images and fancy stories we repeatedly hear. These cyclical acts of communication, of course, set the stage for cultures to emerge.

It should be declared, of course, that the relationship that governs both culture and communication is multifaceted. That is to say, cultures are born by means of communication, that is, communication is the means whereby people interact with others, thereby transmit the essence of their cultures worldwide. Without communication and, most importantly, literature and communication media, it would be an impossibility to preserve or pass along cultural characteristics from a place or time to another.

To best comprehend the insinuation bringing both culture and communication together, consider, for instance, an individual who is compelled to move from one place to another to work or study. This very movement brings with it individual previous experiences and behavioral patterns from the cultures of which the individual belongs. The moment he/she starts to engage in communicational activities with other new members of other groups, a collection of new-shared experiences, distinctive patterns, customs and rituals and thoughts evolve. It is now to these new experiences that a person learn how to adapt and conform mainly through communication. In this way, new groups influence the individual culture in small, and sometimes large, ways as he/she becomes a part of it. In a give-and-take fashion, this redesigned culture forms the communication practices of current and future group members. This interchange is valid with any culture: communication frames culture, and culture frames communication.

Having discussed the implication of the culture-communication relationship, we now turn to a closely related line of argumentation to the cardinal spirit of the current research project. Subjectivity is an integral part in any relationship bringing together culture and communication. There is always this inherent tendency in humans to adopt the view that the elements of one’s own cultures are elevated, better, logical and make good sense. If other cultures are different from one’s own, those differences are often reflected on as negative, illogical and debased. There are many different examples accounting for this situation. A case in point is the idea that when someone from a culture prohibiting polygamy happens to meet someone who believes in having more than one wife. The former may find it quite inappropriate that another culture allows one man to have multiple wives. In this sense, the former considers his culture as logical, and subjectivity interferes with the way he/she makes sense of social phenomena. The result here, is that many people tend to equate different with wrong.

Therefore, understanding the nature of culture in relationship to communication is helpful in a number of ways. First, it helps to explain the origin of differences between the practices, beliefs, values, and customs of various groups and societies, and it provides a reminder of the communication process whereby these differences came into being. This knowledge can and should heighten people’s tolerance for cultural differences. Second, it helps to explain the process that individuals go through in adapting to new relationships, groups, organizations and societies, and the cultures of each. Third and most significantly, it underscores the importance of communication either as a bridge between cultures, or as an ideological apparatus designed to sweep up other distinct cultures.

Therefore, this work revolves around issues relational to the ways any given culture is represented/communicated in different works of art for different purposes, mainly with the aid of English as a global language. I investigate such purposes by relying on examples of literary works produced on particular groups of people. The subject matter taken here is the Moroccan and African worlds, since they both have proven to provide a fertile field of cultural representations of all sorts, be they discriminatory in nature or communicational. Many authors from different walks of life have, on a number of occasions, held to the belief that representing things and people would eventually help in the process of making dialogue and peace reign globally. They, therefore, have taken the venture to fully represent and voice their cultures and people’s worries to other people from different cultures for the sake of enriching these intercultural dialogues meant to get established between nations of the world.


Doing culture, doing communication


It should be brought into notice from the onset that the very dictum of representation or communication hints to its being a tool serving purposes of making the world and its cultures plain and readable. As implicated above, cultures are created through communication, and it is also through communication between individuals that cultures change over time. All institutions within society facilitate communication, and in that way, they all contribute to the creation, spread, and evolution of culture. As a main social institution, language is par excellence part and parcel of communicational activity. Still, when writing for the sake of communicating cultures on a wide-reaching scale, the very careful choice of language becomes strongly encouraged. Not any language can have the ability to read its content to a plethora of audience, rather some languages with international recognition can do this job quite successfully. Many authors from different parts of the world, I take the example of some Moroccans and Sub-Saharans, have taken the venture to communicate their culture to a wider readership worldwide by choosing their culture to reside in universal languages best fit to dispatch their messages far than intended. The very self-assertion motive has been the key marker of most authors when they embark on their literary journeys to voice themselves as well as the people to whom they belong.

More importantly, authors who have opted for communicating their cultures have been faithful to collective-identity notions rather than individualism and self-centeredness. They have chosen their people and cultures to be the center of all interest and writings. This way they have deftly weaved their own life-stories within a communal tapestry of the lives of people who have lived in their time as well as those who have gone before them. In so doing, they have produced works of art that break away with the traditional views of writings privileging individual identity, and they have rather tried their hands at writings that embody the collective notions of identity that have become prevalent in the postmodern era.[2]

This way of writing illustrates the trope of Prosopopeia – that is, bring the Self and others into being in autobiographical writing. In his work Gradus: Les procédés littéraires, Bernard Dupriez offers a definition of Prosopopeia saying that it means, “Mettre en scène les absents, les morts, les êtres surnaturels ou même les êtres inanimés: les faires agir, parler, répondre.” [To present missing people, the dead, supernatural beings or even inanimate beings: To make them act, speak, respond.] (Dupriez, 1989: 364) Dupriez stresses the connection between Prosopopeia and autobiography by explaining how past action recounted in narrative form is presented in such a way as to make the author appear as a speaking person who exists before us in the present moment to voice the worries and the lost dreams of a people.

Following the same trend, African or Moroccan writers have trodden the same paths and, thus, have been producing a great deal of writings in which they have chosen to place their worries, concerns and national pre-requisites. Without overlooking the importance of translation, it would be of paramount importance to stress some of its blessings, the major of which is transmitting or unraveling the hidden aspects of some cultures that are being all forgotten about. Closely related to such point is the work, titled Mountains Forgotten By God, in which the Moroccan writer Brick Oussaid began a task of writing about his as well as his family and peoples’ harsh and bitter experiences in a place surrounded by mountains and cursed by the forgetfulness of not only the rest of Moroccans, but, in Oussaid’s words, “God” as well. Considerably, the translation of Oussaid’s work into English has helped more in voicing his worries and concerns to the rest of the English-speaking world. Oussaid has made it open by avowing that, “the people of whom [he] speak[s] have no voice; they can neither speak out nor demonstrate. The echo of their sighs does not carry far.” (Oussaid, 1989: 4)

Significantly enough, these kind of literary journeys have been a success owing to their having written in foreign languages or translated into foreign languages. In this respect, the English language seems to carry the promise of facilitating communication of cultures in the smoothest ways available. In fact, suffice it to contend with the dominance of the English language in the present time to draw conclusions auguring a birth of a medium constituting a podium for whoever wants to speak and make his/her voice widely heard. In so doing, some Moroccan and African writers have opted for the English language as a medium of expression, which has the ability to read or translate their cultures and voices to the very remote corners of the world, and thus clear up the peculiarities that have always occupied the Western mind about Africa and its people. To deny the ever-lasting existence of Alterity-based misconceptions, travesties or value judgments is to deny the existence of a whole post-colonial theory[3] in which celebrated critics and distinguished writers from all walks of life have said much.


English and the cutting short of cultural disparities.


As a medium of communication, the English language has been spread out across the globe just like a seriously contagious disease, which takes less than a minute to inflict all that happens to be around. This language has maintained a tight grip on most of the other worldly languages, especially as an adequate communicational device that fits in education, economic transactions or intercultural interactions. In fact, the hegemony of the English language is inherent in a colonial legacy during centuries marked by the British Expansionist ambitions around the whole world. In this sense, the British Empire has always sought to entrench English in its colonies. These colonies, in turn, have appropriated the colonial language and maintained it as an official communicational device serving to put off the flames of inter-ethnic disputes about, for instance, which language to use in a multilingual setting such as Africa.

Added to the spread of English in the British erstwhile colonies is an inextricably riddled Moroccan reality, so to speak. Morocco as an ex-colony of the French protectorate is posited to have French or Arabic as a language of its resistance literature, so to speak. Still, English is undeniably of paramount significance in a Moroccan context where openness to the outside world is among the pre-conditions of economic, cultural and educational maturity and improvement.

The Moroccan literature written in English, therefore, testifies to the dominance of the English language which has been stretching out its reach by means of globalization or the potency of the supposedly 21st Century American modern Empire. In fact, different are the arguments brought into play by groups of peoples or individuals trying to prove their legitimate right in claiming English to be theirs. The global reach of English has made of it a language whereby most people across the globe come to be identified. It is a language that facilitates communication between different people from different linguistic backgrounds. Besides, English has become the international language par excellence by virtue of its presence in science, medicine, computer sciences or international university curricula. To that effect, Robert Phillipson in his Linguistic Imperialism explicates that


English has a dominant position in science, technology, medicine, and computers, in research, books, periodicals, and software; in transnational business, trade, shipping and aviation, in diplomacy and international organizations, in mass media entertainment, news agencies, and journalism, in youth culture and sport, in education systems, as the most widely learnt language can estimated 115 million learners at school level by the early 1970s […] this non-exhaustive list of the domains in which English has a dominant, though not exclusive, place is indicative of the functional load carried by English. (Phillipson, 1992: 6)


Long is the list of positions in which English is predominantly present across the globe to the extent that one may think that no other domain is missed from enumeration. English has become inextricably intertwined with several aspects. The number of the English speakers around the world is escalating day by day. For many people, English has become a necessity that cannot be done without, for it is the language that fits with the current global changes. As the amount of information needing to be processed comes to exceed human capabilities, computers, for instance, have appeared on the scene to reduce the tensions that could be accrued to the human mind.

Likewise, when a multitude of languages have appeared to have conflicts with one another, as the case of the African ethnic languages, English has been the potential communicative device most likely to take on the function of solving these and other communicative break-downs. This way, English has come to be perceived as everyone’s language, the lingua franca of all those who seek to have international interactions. Accordingly, in his Post-colonial literatures in English, Dennis Walder assumes that, “whatever English now represents, or has represented over centuries of colonization, it belongs to everyone. It is a global language, the first of its kind.” (Walder, 1998: 44)

Retaining the phrase “global language” can be pertinent to the context of literature. In effect, literature is a fertile field of imagination that is nurtured first and foremost by a global language. That is to say, writers across the globe tend to translate their cultures, worries and aspirations to the rest of the world in a language that can have the capability of carrying the voice of its users into the remotest corners of the world instead of letting them down half way. People, therefore, tend to place their trust in a global language whose reach transcends the naturally established frontiers of states and continents.

Furthermore, some Moroccan writers have channeled their voices through English on the grounds that its use in inter-cultural communications helps in maintaining and, indeed, reinforcing peoples’ separate cultural identities. This can be the case seeing that people yearn for preserving their own culture by using English to communicate with peoples of other cultures, thereby reading their differences in an accessible and global language, so to speak. (Huntington, 1998: 62)

Added to the weight or significance of the Moroccan works in English is their emphasis on drawing clear-cut distinctions between their culture and the cultures wherein their works could be received. Correcting cultural misconceptions that lead to cultural shocks is a preoccupation that looms large in the Moroccan writer’s mind. This is why a universal language such as English can emphasize such cultural distinctions, thereby leading to a cross-cultural dialogue. The rapport between both the Moroccan writer and the English language, I believe, is based on a propensity towards such a language, for a writer is always prone to fulfill his/her linguistic skills in a universal language which would spare them the worry not to be read or inter-culturally misunderstood.

Still a more significant point is the fact that some Moroccan writers have opted for the French language as a medium of expression. Their writings have been voiced in an equally universal language, French, thereby enjoying feasibility in dispatching the writer’s cross-cultural messages or those of the people that he/she seeks to represent. French also has served a powerful universal communicational apparatus that is tuned to the most remote corners of the world’s receptive grounds. By virtue of its global dominance, French is also widely used by writers who look forward to translating and reading the true depiction of their culture and religion to the outside world.


The Subaltern speaks through English


For some Moroccan writers, it is believed that a writer who uses English or French can explore different topics with much freedom. Language turns into a freeing tool for a person as well as a culture being represented. Following the same thrust of argumentation, it becomes, then, very important to bring into the limelight a category of writers who have been freed by their appropriation of foreign languages. To that effect, Hassan Zrizri explains that,


The appearance of women writers on the literary scene is a turning point in the literary periodization of Moroccan literature in general and a historical marker of the repressed other, [thus] trespassing the frontiers long set by patriarchy. Their appropriation of language and narration is part of a symbolical process of decolonization. Access to the writing means adopting new forms: multiplicity, variety and openness as a response to monotonous, repetitive and linear forms. (Zrizri, 2004: 65)


The appearance of English in women’s writing has played a major role in the assertion of their emancipation. Relatively, English served for creating a bridge through which Moroccan women writers have crossed from the period that was marked by their suppressed voice and curbed will to an emancipating period wherein they have acquired a voice characteristic of a variety of aesthetic forms. Deductively, writing in a foreign language is emblematic of a magical power whereby particularly the oppressed can have the chance to obtain a voice and, more than that, have it heard and echoed in faraway places.

Equally important, in his Heart of Embers, Abdellatif Akbib has freed the voice of Said, the major character. Said throughout the novel tries to make up for all mistakes he committed in the past by voicing them through Akbib’s lenses. In this regard, Said confirms that


I am saying this because, in the darkness of the room where I lie, in the grip of a deep sense of solitude, and prompted by a keen sensory perception, I have often caught myself communing with the past-journeying back through its nooks and recesses, puzzling my way along its tortuous labyrinth – now that I have practically no foreseeable future to plan for. (Akbib, 2004: 11)


Journeying back through the doors of the past, Said is meant to get his voice freed and feels at ease by doing good to those whom he mistreated in the past even by remembering their names and good deeds. In light of this and other literary works written by Moroccans and sub-Saharans, the question of the ability of the subaltern to speak has been fully tackled. More interestingly, it is amazing how a voice can manage to emerge from within some harsh circumstances used to have been stumble-blocking it throughout its successive attempts to tell or make the others hear its echoes and flashes. The subaltern voice has managed to speak when it played the role of the representative of, more or less, the other more oppressed voices still have not emerged or spoken yet. What the voice utters or articulates is a transmission to endless problems and worries of either the subaltern voice or his/her people. For instance, Frederick Douglass is a black spokesperson for the black people. He is against slavery and the dehumanizing exploitation of the black by the white by choosing to represent the black race just as Martin Luther King did. King also did not hesitate to defend the black cause and fight against slavery, injustice and inequality. These are the underlying principles that made him organize non-violent campaigns with his fellow-country men. In his words, Martin Luther says,


I am cognized of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not to be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. (Littleton, 1971: 23)


Amazing is the metaphorical image Martin Luther King draws as to demonstrate the extent to which the black person is very important and is the focal point of most black writers. When some people are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality and tied in a single garment of destiny, they become one single body defending, speaking and caring for each other. In support of such ideals, Brick Oussaid has written an autobiographical story entitled Mountains Forgotten by God, where he assumed the responsibility of speaking and representing his people about whom nothing has been heard or known. His story of a Moroccan Berber family is a representative of a larger social network of people still living under dire poverty and still enduring the caprices of life. These people are the forgotten, thereby needing to be voiced to the outer world via Oussaid’s tongue.

In still another significant point, English has further served a reliable communicational purpose in a complex linguistic milieu such as the African one. According to different linguists or even decision-makers, Africa has to catch up with the train of progress and modernity, and this cannot be achieved in a social context where we have different isoglosses, each of which aims at promoting its dialect at the expense of another African dialect. The solution of course, as was expected, was to opt for a global language that meets the consent of the whole Africans. This solution is proposed on the grounds that the African people, it is believed, will never agree upon one African language or dialect, and it is again the ex-colonial language that fits in settling such alchemy, mainly for three reasons as outlined in Robert L. Cooper’s Language planning and social change:


This replacement was sometimes difficult to implement. In the first place, elites were sometimes unwilling to surrender those personal advantages won on the basis of their elite education via a colonial language. If that language were to lose its privileges, they might lose their privileges as well. Second, economic and political rivalry among competing languages groups sometimes made each unwilling to see the other’s language instituted as a system wide medium of instruction. They preferred that everyone face the same disadvantage of studying via a colonial language than that some should have the advantage of studying in their own. Third, access to world commerce, science, and technology demands that at least some must learn the imperial languages. An excellent way to import those languages is to use them as media of instruction. (Cooper, L. Robert, 1989: 112)


Clearly, the replacement of the ex-colonial languages by an African language or dialect is a lost for mainly the elites. We can speak of three reasons which are provided whenever the question of language is raised in Africa. First, the elites are likely to lose their social, political or economic prestige made accessible by their mastery of the ex-colonial languages, which have become the official languages made use of in administration and schooling. If any African language is to be elected instead of an ex-colonial one, the masses, it is believed, are then going to ask for their right to rule their countries. Hence, the elites are no longer going to enjoy what they used to when they were the only ones who could speak the official and administrative language. Secondly, the problem which is continuously posed in Africa, as in any other multilingual country, is that of the pressure exerted by the economic groups. These groups keep competing with each other in order to have one’s group language as the most used one not only on the national level, but also on the regional one. Therefore, this problem makes it harder for the Africans to opt for a unifying language to be accepted by all Africans. Finally, it should be noted that the world has become a small village where everyone is connected to the outside world economically, diplomatically or even scientifically. Under these challenges, Africa seem to be very attached to the ex-colonizers’ languages and cannot forsake them lest the Africans would be cut off the outside world and thus lag more years behind the bandwagon of economic or technological development. Unfortunately, this cannot be achieved unless Africa adopts a recognized international language which everyone can speak and understand. In support of this, Braj B. Kachru writes that


for governments, English thus serves at least two purposes. First, it continues to provide a linguistic tool for the administrative cohesiveness of a country (as in south Asia and parts of Africa). Second, at another level, it provides a language of a wider communication (national and international). (Kachru, 2001: 291)


English has been playing, for most Africans, a crucial role in fostering the administrative consistency of a multilingual country/region, such as Africa. It was implanted by the ex-colonizers so as to run their administrative affairs in the African countries, and now even the Africans themselves can’t dispose of such an ex-colonial medium of communication, for it is a tool which would keep their administrative affairs under control. Other than that, as the world is becoming smaller due to space and time shortening waves of globalization, Africa is in a position that pushes it to further commix in this global context. Under these new conditions, therefore, and for Africa to get connected to the world out there, culturally, politically or economically, it should adopt a global language. And this language for Kachru is English par excellence, since it is not only a tool of facilitating or creating a communicational channel among Africans, but also among the international community towards a global development in mainly economic and diplomatic relationships.

Chinua Achebe has also given his support to the English language for two main reasons. The first one is that English, as a lingua franca, has helped with maintaining the national unity of a country, like Nigeria, where more than two hundred languages are at clash as to which language to use in daily life situations. The second reason is that English has become part of the Nigerian life and should be seen as a Nigerian language, since it is spoken and used in the writings of the Nigerians to voice all what they have. (Achebe, 1981: 48) Besides, speaking of the good qualities of the English language, one may refer to its position among the other spoken languages all over the world. For the subaltern voice, the English language serves as a powerful medium of communication that has the capability to carry the voice to the remotest corners of the world. In so doing, “post-colonial writers in English are able to express their view of a world fissured, distorted, and made incredible by cultural displacement.” (Achebe, 1981: 235)

English is a globally dominant language serving to voice every single issue on a global scale. This can offer us an answer to why some Moroccan voices speak in the English language though French is the language of the ex-colonizers. Of course, we can cite as many writers as the English language can testify of those Moroccans who write and speak through the open shatters of its windows. For instance, Abdellatif Akbib, Anour Majid, Jilali El Koudia, and Mohamed Benouarrek, to mention but a few, have all chosen to interpret their cultures in a language about which many scholars and African writers, such as Chinua Achebe, said to have the ability to bear the burden of one’s experiences and dispatch them to faraway places. In the same connection, Chinua Achebe reckoned with the necessity to specify the readers intended to hear the subaltern voice. As an African voice, Achebe is very concerned with his potential audience and, in this regard, argues that


I realize that a lot has been made of the allegation that African writers have to write for European and American readers because African readers where they exist at all are only interested in reading text books. I don’t know if African writers always have a foreign audience in mind. What I do know is that they do not have to. At least I know that I don’t have to (Achebe, 1981: 42)


Though Achebe acknowledges that the English language can carry the weight of the African experience, he has in mind the African readership. Of course, English is the language that can read Achebe’s thoughts to every Nigerian. That is why he testifies:


Last year the pattern of sales of things fall apart in the cheap paper-back edition was as follows: about 800 copies in Britain, 20,000 in Nigeria; and about 2,500 in all other places. The same pattern was true also of no longer at ease. (Achebe, 1981: 42)


The Nigerian readership is outnumbering other foreign readers of Chinua Achebe. This can be attributed either to the topic that the voice is raising within his/her work, or to the efficiency of the English language and its aptitude to reach many readers all over the world. Chinua Achebe, like many other African writers, has opted for the English language as a trustworthy messenger to carry the cultural weight of his country and its subaltern voices. Surely, many disputes have resulted over whether or not the subaltern voice has any practical effects on real life situations though using the English language. Many views have expressed their doubt to that effect. Historically, by the time the ex-colonized countries got their independence, there began a move towards voicing the scandals and barbarity of the ex-colonizers by many post-colonial writers. The subaltern voice has had an effective role to play on practical life. Bill Ashcroft supports this idea in saying that


The existence of post-colonial discourse itself is an example of such speaking, and in most cases the dominant language or mode of representation is appropriated so that the marginal voice can be heard. (Ashcroft, 1999: 219)


The subaltern has managed to cause a change in its contemporary life and come up with a counter discourse to question, contest and even belie the modes of representation by which the ex-colonizers used to manipulate and picture their subjects. In this post-colonial discourse, the voice has used all the clues enabling it to speak out against the oppression of its ex-colonizer. Simply, by appropriating the ex-colonizer’s discourse and then subverting it from within, the post-colonial writers have managed to shaken the giant edifice behind which the ex-colonizer used to take hold of its subject through discourse. That is to say, the appropriation of the colonial language was in fact an emulation that has sought to abrogate this language to become a tool running the counter-attacks against the European dominant discourse. Hence, the subaltern voice can dismantle the master’s house just by using the tools of the master. (Ashcroft, 1999: 5) In support of this, Elleke Boehmer explicates that


Drawing on the special effects of magic realism, post-colonial writers combine the supernatural with local legend and imagery derived from colonialist cultures to represent […] and indict the follies of both empire and its aftermaths. (Boehmer, 1995: 235)


Speaking about the term abrogation, which was applied by most post-colonial writers as a subversive literary technique in the post-colonial discourse, the modern African stories offer us an insight into some African writers’ literary works. These writers have appropriated the English language, but this English is a new one to effectively depict the African experiences. For instance, Nkem Nwankwo in his short story The gambler writes,


My frend bay we de work with me last month no de work with again he throw in one hundred pounds, yes one hundred and he win thousands. Now I see am ride fine fine cars and carry fine fine women. You no see am. (Nwankwo, 1977: 172)


This is an example of the many texts in which the abrogation or rejection of the Standard English is manifest. Such African writers use this subversive strategy as a means of saying to their ex-colonizers that they have appropriated and mastered their language, and now it is their turn to write back in a distorted language standing as a mirror for colonial corrupt acts. This way of writing English could be conceived of as a revolt of the post-colonial voices against Standard English. However, Edward W. Said invites a kind of carefulness when dealing with language in the sense that the voices should use a language to necessarily bring about a change rather than seek revenge. Said, in this sense, affirms that, “in writing and speaking, one’s aim is not to show everyone how right one is, but rather in trying to induce a change in the moral climate whereby aggression is seen as such.” (Said, 1996: 74) In this sense, the role of the post-colonial voice is, to use Edward Said’s wording, “to speak the truth to power” (Said, 1996: 85) and attempt to, at least, generate a positive change.




The universalism or globalism of the English language has always been conceived of as a power accruing a noticeable weight to its hegemony all over the world. The hegemony of English has placed different people and nations in a magnetic field wherein they are easily swept into its vortex. While there are some people who tend to cast foreign languages with an inherent eye of animosity, others are mesmerized by their edification of such languages. A curse or a bliss has always been a question that occupied the attention of the public with regard to the English language ascendancy. It is by taking into consideration some present facts that we can understand whether English has contributed to, mainly, the richness of writers’ thoughts, thereby assisting him/her with his/her quest in communicating his/her culture. Therefore, when speaking of communication in relation to culture, a number of questions arise. As communication increases, does this mean that the cultures of individuals from groups, organizations, and societies that have great access to global languages and control of writing techniques overpower those in cultures that have fewer resources and less access and control? Can communication of cultures be used to help individuals more comfortably and effectively adapt to new relationships, groups, organizations and societies? The importance of these issues makes this area an important one for sustained inspection by scholars and practitioners.





ACHEBE, Chinua, 1981, Morning Yet on Creation Day, London, Biddles

AKBIB, Abdellatif, 2004, Heart of Embers, Tangier, Imprimerie Altopress

APPIAH, Kwame Anthony, 1997, “The multiculturalist Misunderstanding”, The New York Review of Books, October 9

ASHCROFT, Bill et al, 1999, Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, London, Rutledge

COOPER, Robert L., 1989, Language planning and social change, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

DUPRIEZ, Bernard, 1989, Gradus: Les procédés littéraires, Paris, C. Bourgeois

DURANTI, Alessandro, 1997, Linguistic anthropology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

HUNTINGTON, Samuel, 1998, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York, Touchstone Books

KACHRU, Braj B., 2001, “The Alchemy of English”, in ASHCROFT, Bill et al. (eds.) The Post-colonial Studies Reader, London, Routledge

LITTLETON, Arthur C., BURGER, Mary W. (eds.), 1971, Black view points, New York, New American Library

NWANKWO, Nkem, 1977, The Gambler, London: Faber and Faber

OUSSAID, Brick, 1989, Mountains Forgotten by God, Washington, Three Continents Press

PHILLIPSON, Robert, 1992, Linguistic Imperialism, London, Oxford University Press

SAID, Edward W., 1996, Representations of the Intellectual, New York, Vintage Books

TYLOR, Edward B., 1871, Primitive Culture, London, John Murray

WALDER, Dennis, 1998, Post-colonial Literatures in English, Oxford, Blackwell

ZRIZRI, Hassan, 2004, “Narrating Domestic Frontiers: Unbecoming Daughters of Patriarchy Moroccan

Women Writers of French Expression,” in AMINE, Khalid et al. (ed.), Writing Tangier, Tangier, Imprimerie Altopress


[1] Attributing weakness to a culture is sometimes made under the assumption that cultures become weak and continuously draw nearer to their extinction and forgetfulness when people start to emulate other cultures considered, in their own terms, to be more elevated and modern. This way they start to incorporate these new intruding cultures into their daily life while neglecting their own ways of life.

[2] Postmodernism’s critique of the notion of an autonomous, sovereign, and transparent subject challenges the modern philosophical subject as it has been elaborated in the western world from Descartes to Sartre. The postmodern approach to autobiography seems to dissolve the concept of identity just as marginalized, oppressed groups have gained the means necessary to liberate themselves through writing the Self. (See Appiah, 1997: 30-35)

[3] Post-colonial Theory (also Post-colonial Studies, Post-colonialism) is an academic and intellectual discipline seeking to analyze, explain, and respond to the cultural legacies of the European colonialism and imperialism and their residuals on the political, social, psychological and cultural, among many others, realities on the ex-colonized countries of the “third world.” Post-colonialism is an examination of all what happened with the colonial thinking at the end of the colonial era. Therefore, it is a critical destabilization of the body of knowledge (linguistic, social, cultural or economic etc) by means of which the Western colonialists perceive, understand, and represent the world, thereby constituting the post-colonial identity of the ex-colonized people based on Self/Other binarisms. Furthermore, Post-colonialism examines the manners in which the Western cultural knowledge was applied to subjugate a non-European people. Post-colonialism thus establishes intellectual niches for the subaltern, to use Gayatri Spivack’s famous wording, peoples to speak for themselves, in their own voices, and so produce the cultural discourses with the aim of countering the imbalanced West/ East, Us/Them or Self/Other binary power-relationships between the colonialist and the colonial subject.

La survie par les objets. La passion de la collection dans le roman et le musée d’Orhan Pamuk

Cristina BOGDAN
Université de Bucarest



The rites of passage often imply the presence of objects meant to make easier the separation from an old state and the penetration into a new ontological status. The relationship between the owner and his objects seems to survive the departure, as there is a belief in the capacity of the instrument to seize something of the identity of the being it had served.

A trigger of memory and a support of remembrance, the object writes a new history of the defunct on the edge between real and imaginary, providing a sort of interior comfort for those who suffer from the loss of a dear person.

As if he wanted to convince us that the past can be revealed and lived again by some lighting effects of a collection – an imaginary and a real one – of objects, the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk undertakes two complementary actions at a time. On the one hand, he builds the novel The Museum of Innocence (2008) on the love story between Kemal and Füsun, on the other hand he creates a museum meant to say, with the voice of its exhibits, the same love story, prematurely ended because of the protagonists’ separation, restarted after long years of trial and error and suddenly cut off, shortly after the reconciliation, by the absurd death of the beloved woman. From artefacts of loss, with a compensatory function for Kemal in the period of break, the objects tend to become signs of recuperation, of a delicate presence in the absence, reminding of the essential role the material elements play in the construction and maintenance of a feeling of the past.   

Objects of mourning and memory, the museum exhibits, together with the description of the objects in the novel, shape a genuine taste for collecting, meant to summon up the presence of the beloved, to reconstruct it, providing it with stability and permanence, in a game of recuperation that attempts to defy death.  

Keywords: memory, artefacts of loss, compensatory objects, presence/absence dialectic, taste for collecting


Nous sommes déjà familiarisés avec des écrivains qui ont ressenti par ailleurs le besoin d’exprimer leurs idées dans différents types de discours, plus ou moins proches (et bien souvent complémentaires) du discours littéraire. Parmi eux, il y en a qui ont pratiqué le journalisme (Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa), certains ont écrit des scénarios pour le cinéma ou ont produit des films (Truman Capote, J. K. Rowling), d’autres ont couché sur le papier leurs choix politiques (à commencer par les grandes figures des Lumières – Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot – jusqu’à Alexandre Soljenitsyne) ou philosophiques (Albert Camus), sans compter ceux, bien plus rares, qui ont créé des établissements scolaires (Léon Tolstoï). Or, tous ces partis pris ne vont pas sans un minimum de désir d’implication dans la vie de la cité, vœu bien manifeste pour certains, tels les intellectuels engagés dans le mouvement existentialiste (Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir). À quoi on pourrait ajouter un projet récent, avec un enjeu qui renvoie plutôt au canevas de la vie privée, dont les mailles laissent deviner les images d’une ville fascinante[1]: la création d’un Musée de l’innocence, qui puisse accompagner et illustrer le roman homonyme, signé par le premier lauréat turc du Prix Nobel de littérature (2006), Orhan Pamuk.

Histoire de nous convaincre que le passé peut être remis à jour et revécu à travers les jeux d’éclairage d’une collection d’objets – autant imaginaire que réelle –, l’écrivain entend mener en parallèle deux actions complémentaires. D’une part, l’auteur tisse la trame du roman Le Musée de l’innocence (2008) autour de l’amour qui lie Kemal et Füsun (et ceci sur le fond de la vie socioculturelle de l’Istanbul des années ʻ70-ʻ90 du siècle dernier), d’autre part, il crée effectivement un musée (dans le quartier Çukurcuma, ouvert aux visiteurs en 2011) qui raconte, par la voix des objets y exposés, la même histoire d’amour, prématurément interrompue par la séparation des personnages, renouée par la suite après de longues années de tâtonnements, puis brusquement arrêtée, peu après la réconciliation des protagonistes, par la mort de la bien-aimée.

La grille de lecture que nous proposons pour mettre au jour les significations renfermées dans les pages du roman et les vitrines des salles du musée reprend des pratiques de recherche qui renvoient à plusieurs aires disciplinaires connexes: l’anthropologie de l’objet, l’anthrropologie des sens, la culture visuelle et la médiologie. La culture visuelle, telle qu’elle se donne à comprendre dans les ouvrages de Hans Belting (2004) ou ceux de Richard Howells (2003), et la médiologie, discipline relativement récente échafaudée par Régis Debray (1997)[2], nous rappellent que toute image est liée à un corps-spectateur, ainsi qu’à un médium-support censés la véhiculer. La relation roman-musée s’établit ainsi d’entrée de jeu: tous les deux, roman et musée, sont constitués d’une suite d’images reflétées dans nos regards[3] et étayées par les textes ou les objets-fondement qui les envoient vers nous, avec plus ou moins d’insistance et de manière plus ou moins convaincante.


Deux « installations pour la remémoration »

Le schéma narratif autour duquel s’articulent les deux « installations pour la remémoration » – le roman et le musée – est des plus simples: le fils d’un gros industriel stambouliote s’apprête à se fiancer (puis à se marier) avec une jeune fille de la haute société, éduquée, selon la mode de l’époque, à Paris. Peu avant ses fiançailles, le protagoniste – Kemal (qui a 30 ans) – fait la rencontre d’une parente lointaine et pauvre, qu’il n’avait plus revue depuis son adolescence – Füsun (qui n’a que 18 ans). Un irrépressible sentiment amoureux les pousse l’un vers l’autre et, deux mois durant, ils vivent intensément leur histoire d’amour, à l’abri des regards indiscrets, dans un appartement de l’immeuble la Compassion (et cela sous prétexte que Kemal l’aiderait ainsi à préparer son concours d’entrée à la faculté).

Après avoir participé aux fiançailles de Kemal et de Sibel Hanim, pour satisfaire ainsi aux obligations familiales (dues à leur lien de parenté), Füsun disparaît inexplicablement, tandis que son amoureux essaie d’apaiser sa souffrance en se rabattant sur les objets d’alentour, en plongeant volontiers dans leur intimité réconfortante, susceptible de susciter en lui la sensation éthérée d’une présence dans l’absence. C’est ainsi que les objets les plus banals touchés par sa bien-aimée le temps qu’ils ont été ensemble dans leur appartement-refuge deviennent autant de points d’ancrage de l’être en proie à la nostalgie. Le soi étendu, tel que théorisé par Russell W. Belk (1988), recouvre, en l’occurrence, moins ses propres possessions que les artefacts de l’autre, les outils dont ils s’est servi jadis, signes diaphanes d’un temps de bonheur lointain (et impalpable). L’attachement obsessionnel aux objets amène le protagoniste à régresser vers les territoires de l’infantile, marqués par l’impératif des objets transitionnels et le désir de collectionner, à tout prix, des traces de l’autre, comme si c’était là une forme de contrôle exercée sur une réalité qui lui échappe et à laquelle il ne saurait accéder qu’indirectement. Envisagé sous cet angle, le personnage renonce progressivement à la sphère des liens interpersonnels, en cherchant, toujours plus fréquemment, la compagnie de ces aide-mémoire qui tissent, invisiblement, la toile de la rencontre avec l’être perdu:

Dans la majeure partie des deux heures que je passais là, je restais étendu sur le lit, rêvais les yeux ouverts, tout en me collant sur le visage, le front, le cou, comme pour adoucir ma souffrance, quelque objet fantôme que je prenais en main et qui brillait d’un éclat aveuglant, conservant l’empreinte de nos instants de boheur, tel ce casse-noix ou cette vieille montre ballerine, que Füsun avait essayé plus d’une fois de remettre en marche et qui sentait encore le parfum de ses mains. (Pamuk, 2010: 188).

Jean-Paul Sartre affirmait, dans L’Être et le Néant, que le seul moyen de savoir qui nous sommes c’était d’analyser ce que nous possédons et qu’au moment où un objet se transforme en bien possédé, le soi et l’étranger ne font plus qu’un, avoir et être se confondent (Sartre, 2004). Pour Kemal, le processus d’aliénation marque un arrêt pendant les seuls moments privilégiés où il invoque obsessionnellement la présence de la disparue, en la recomposant de manière arcimboldesque avec les ustensiles qu’elle aura jadis touchés ou maniés. Artefacts de la perte, à fonction compensatoire dans la période de rupture, les objets deviennent, après la mort de la bien-aimée, des signes de la récupération, rappelant ainsi le rôle essentiel des éléments matériels dans la construction et la préservation d’un sentiment du passé. (Belk, 1990: 669-676)

En visitant Le Musée de l’innocence à Istanbul ou en parcourant les chapitres du roman, on se retrouve non pas dans un cabinet de curiosités, mais plutôt d’intimités, dans une sorte de tombeau ouvert, qui refait tout le lot d’accessoires du défunt, auquel il manque une seule pièce, mais essentielle celle-là: la momie. C’est dire que la bien-aimée est deux fois absente: aussi bien pendant l’éloignement des amants (quand elle se manifeste comme un mirage dans l’horizon embrasé d’attente de Kemal), qu’ultérieurement, lorsque survient la séparation définitive provoquée par l’accident de la route mortel. Dans les deux situations, l’objet porte témoignage en faveur de la créature perdue, il la contient, tout rempli qu’il est du souvenir de ses gestes, de ses attitudes, de ses états d’âme. Ce qui vient confirmer la théorie de Hans Belting concernant la capacité des images à suppléer l’absence, à rendre visible ce qu’on ne pourrait plus voir (le défunt)[4]. L’objet testimonial parle, certes, de la femme perdue, d’une histoire d’amour suspendue, mais il parle également de coutumes, de comportements et de mentalités découpés dans le paysage stambouliote des décennies 70-90 du siècle dernier. Sous ce nouveau jour, le cabinet d’intimités est largement ouvert non seulement pour ceux qui souhaiteraient pratiquer une lecture d’identification, en vivant le roman dans toutes les articulations d’une lente et douloureuse love story, mais aussi pour ceux qui, dotés d’un sens anthropologique, aimeraient reconstituer des contextes de vie et des mentalités collectives d’une époque révolue.

Aux yeux de l’amoureux, le monde tend à devenir un immense miroir où se reflètent, à l’infini, les seuls avatars du visage fantomatique de l’aimée longuement attendue. Au chapitre 32, « Ombres et fantômes de Füsun », correspond, à l’intérieur du musée, un panneau de photos / cartes postales de ces lieux d’Istanbul où le personnage croyait entrevoir l’être adoré. Sur le fond noir et blanc des images on voit se détacher une silhouette féminine, vêtue d’une couleur vive (rouge), comme pour suggérer que, dans ce contexte, les contours de l’irréel sont bien plus vigoureux que la monotonie d’une réalité vide de sens et de joie. L’œil du visiteur est irrésistiblement attiré par la tache de couleur sur les cartes postales exposées, le personnage féminin devenant ainsi, symboliquement, le centre de gravité de l’image. Nous avons là, sous les yeux, des hiérophanies, où l’élément sacré qu’elles comportent (en l’occurrence l’être aimé) nous est à la fois révélé et refusé.

Les lignes de la silhouette féminine tiennent du registre du diaphane, dans son acception aristotélicienne comme « paradigme du milieu et de la médiation » (Vasiliu, 2010: 65). La manière dont Anca Vasiliu saisit les significations du diaphane dans le traité De l’âme du Stagirite s’accorde parfaitement avec la sensation de présence dans l’absence que produisent simultanément le roman et le musée mis en scène par l’écrivain turc: « Rien en soi, ou par-soi, sensible toutefois – c’est-à-dire perceptible par les sens, quoique non-corporel et invisible […] le diaphane n’est pourtant pas le rien, ou le vide. Il est défini comme distance […] et comme nature commune, révélatrice d’une présence … » (Vasiliu, 2010: 65). L’être de l’aimée se laisse mieux voir à distance, car plus il se cache, plus il se rend lumineux dans l’âme de l’amoureux. Tout comme dans la lyrique médiévale des troubadours et des trouvères, que J. Huizinga appelle suggestivement la « mélodie du désir insatisfait »[5], l’amour qui échoue dans sa quête de l’être aimé ressent intensément la sensation déchirante de se voir refuser la présence de l’être longuement recherché et attendu. D’autre part, cet éloignement, cette suspension de la relation au plan concret (puisqu’elle continue intérieurement), c’est ce qui entretient le sentiment, en préservant sa vigueur et son authenticité.

Impuissant à sortir du cercle obsédant du souvenir et du désir, Kemal renonce au bout de quelques mois à ses fiançailles avec Sibel et commence à rendre visite, sous divers prétextes, à la famille de Füsun (celle-ci quoique mariée entre-temps à un jeune scénariste, Feridun). Pendant près de huit ans, le rituel des visites rendues à la famille Keskin plusieurs fois par semaine donne du rythme à l’existence de Kemal, qui reprend ainsi peu à peu son sens. Cependant, au fil de ces visites, Kemal s’est pris à dérober de la maison des parents de Füsun bien des objets qui avaient été touchés à tout hasard ou volontairement par les mains de l’aimée. L’artefact soustrait devenait ainsi, pendant un certain temps, un substitut de la personne chérie, qui procurait une sensation de bien-être à celui qui se voyait obligé, en fin d’une soirée passée à la table de famille, à la télé ou devant le grand écran, de se séparer une fois encore de son aimée:

Le fait d’avoir réussi à glisser dans ma poche, en un clin d’œil, quelque objet de Füsun, une salière, par exemple, qu’elle avait tenue dans la main tout en regardant la télé l’air songeur, la certitude que, tout le temps que je restais à bavarder et à siroter mon raki, la salière se trouvait bel et bien dans ma poche, que j’en avais pris possession, tout cela me procurait un tel sentiment de bonheur que, à la fin de la soirée, je parvenais à me lever de mon fauteuil sans trop d’efforts. La compagnie des choses que j’empochais en partant a pu améliorer dans une certaine mesure, après l’été 1979, ces crises dues à mon incapacité à m’extraire de mon fauteuil et à me détacher d’elle. (Pamuk, 2010: 445)

Le comportement de surveillant (Cherrier, 2010: 259-272) défini dans les études de spécialité comme une pratique adoptée consciemment par certains consommateurs tout soucieux de conserver intacts des objets qui autrement risqueraient d’être détruits ou jetés – acquiert, dans ce contexte, de nouvelles caractéristiques. Habituellement, il représente un effort visant à préserver le passé, alors que dans le cas du personnage créé par Orhan Pamuk, il est bien plus que cela, car ce que Kemal sauve avant tout, dans l’objet de collection, c’est un bien petit fragment de l’être aimé, « une partie de l’idée de Füsun » (Pamuk, 2010: 444), comme il l’avoue dans les pages de son roman. L’artefact est un témoin de la personne et, implicitement, du temps et de l’espace qu’elle aura connus.

L’attachement aux objets recouvre deux zones importantes dans la construction de l’identité, telles qu’elles sont systématisées par S. Schultz Kleine et S. Menzel Baker dans une étude (2004: 7-11) où elles se proposent de passer en revue les fonctions que développe la relation sujet-objet: la valeur définitionnelle de soi[6] (l’objet se constitue en un référent tangible qui aide l’individu à refaire l’image de soi se reflétant dans le passé et le présent et se projetant dans l’avenir) et la valeur de maintien de la stabilité de soi et de facilitation des changements de soi[7] (l’élément matériel représente, dans ce cas, un facteur important de maintien de la tension dialectique entre la continuité et le changement de soi).

Kemal se définit simultanément aussi bien par les objets[8] qui reconstruisent la brève période de bonheur vécue dans les après-midis qu’il passe avec Füsun dans l’appartement de l’immeuble la Compassion (valeur autobiographique), que par les ustensiles qu’il avait dérobés dans sa maison pendant la longue période de visites hebdomadaires, avant le moment où Füsun se sépare de son mari (valeur adaptative). De cette façon, la collection initiale de Kemal, composée au début d’un nombre réduit d’éléments, s’enrichit substantiellement, puisqu’elle contient aussi des choses qui à première vue paraîtraient absolument dérisoires. Les mégots des 4213 cigarettes fumées par Füsun au cours des années 1976-1984 forment la matière première dont est pétri le chapitre 68 du roman, mais aussi par ailleurs les pièces d’une étrange collection d’insectes, placée dans le hall d’entrée du musée et accompagnée de plusieurs écrans de télévision, où défilent à l’infini les gestes d’une main de femme tenant une cigarette allumée. Chaque mégot est daté et porte une inscription explicative concernant le contexte où avait été fumée la cigarette et les sentiments qui animaient à l’époque la protagoniste. L’attention portée aux détails rappelle à la fois la passion du collectionneur et le scrupule sentimental de l’amoureux, véritable chroniqueur de l’histoire d’amour. D’ailleurs, Orhan Pamuk ne manque point de tisser les petits ponts nécessaires entre les pages du roman et les salles du musée, et cela d’une manière qui institue un jeu d’analepses et de prolepses, autant à l’intérieur de l’espace fictionnel qu’entre celui-ci et l’espace expositionnel:

Les lecteurs qui visiteront le musée ne doivent surtout pas croire, en voyant les notes sous chacun des 4 213 mégots de cigarettes récupérés tout le long des huit ans et portant la date de leur provenance, que les vitrines renferment des informations inutiles: la forme de chaque mégot de cigarette est la matérialisation d’un sentiment intense éprouvé par Füsun pendant qu’elle l’éteignait. (Pamuk, 2010 : 471)


          Un cabinet de curiosités?

Le musée créé par le romancier turc dans une maison du quartier Çukurcuma (espace spécifique de la vie stambouliote des XIXe et XXe siècles, tout comme le quartier Nișantași, où l’auteur a vécu son enfance[9]) s’inscrit dans la longue tradition des cabinets de curiosités[10], qui ont fait les délices des maisons princières et nobiliaires d’Europe, depuis la Renaissance jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, tout en répondant également au double impératif visant à exprimer l’univers et le soi: « Miroirs du monde tentant de capter en une vision panoramique les savoirs du temps, elles étaient aussi le miroir du sujet qui les constituait, à la fois intime et universel: le cabinet de curiosités se situe quelque part entre l’infiniment petit et l’infiniment grand. » (Davenne, 2011: 9)[11]

La différence réside dans le caractère commun ou, par contre, exceptionnel des objets exposés et des regards qu’ils réclament de par leur nature même. Si un cabinet de curiosités était d’autant plus précieux qu’il présentait des artefacts venant de mondes lointains, et alimentant ainsi le goût de ce qui est étrange et exotique, la collection que propose Orhan Pamuk réunit des objets du monde quotidien, des outils banals et éphémères, des colifichets de la vie privée, mais auréolés du seul souvenir de la femme qui les avait touchés. Car son allure fantomatique semble se refléter dans chaque vitrine qui récrit son histoire, tel un poème-miroir d’amour à multiples facettes.

Le cabinet de curiosités pariait sur la force séduisante de la différence, de l’insolite irréductible[12], alors que la collection d’Orhan Pamuk propose l’émotion suscitée par la ressemblance, par la reconquête d’un horizon familier et la volupté d’y replonger. Cette fois, on met en avant non plus l’idée de curiosité, mais celle d’intimité. Dans les salles du musée, discrètement éclairées, et où les groupes en grand nombre n’ont pas accès (en raison d’un règlement fixé dès sa création), juste pour ne pas troubler le silence et la sensation d’intérieur domestique,  les visiteurs peuvent déceler leur propre périple existentiel, en y découvrant des objets courants et pouvant les mêler mentalement à ceux de la biographie personnelle.

Dans son manifeste pour les musées (Pamuk, 2012: 54-57) inclus dans le  guide qui accompagne et illustre la collection, Orhan Pamuk parle explicitement des changements qu’il estime utiles dans la nouvelle vision de ce type d’institution culturelle. L’enjeu d’un tel espace résiderait, non pas dans la recréation d’une histoire massive, nationale, générale et, en dernière instance, manquant de souffle et de personnalité, mais dans une collecte de bribes de vie intime, d’où puisse émaner le visage vivant de l’individu, avec son histoire unique et irréversible. Le trajet conçu par l’écrivain turc envisage le renoncement à l’épopée en faveur du roman, l’abandon de la grande histoire au profit du récit de vie, car les personnes lui semblent, à ce propos, bien plus offrantes que les nations. En fait, ce type de discours rejoint une direction de plus ample portée, que l’on peut retrouver depuis quelques décennies dans les écrits des philosophes postmodernes, adeptes eux aussi du détail révélateur au détriment du tout.

Objets du souvenir dans un lieu de mémoire, les pièces de musée, avec leurs descriptions sur les étiquettes qui les accompagnent et dans les passages du roman, tracent les contours d’une véritable passion de la collection (Baudrillard, 1997: 9), susceptible de convoquer la présence de la femme aimée, de la reconstruire, de lui conférer ainsi stabilité et permanence dans un jeu de récupération qui lance le défi à la mort. Le lien qui unit le possesseur à ses objets est à même de survivre à sa disparition, car il existe par ailleurs la croyance selon laquelle l’instrument aurait la capacité de capter quelque chose de l’identité vivante (Wittkower, 1991: 13) de la personne qui s’en est servie.

Le texte et les images présentés par la succession des vitrines avec des pièces disposées sur l’horizontale des salles et la verticale des étages, qui forment le Musée de l’innocence d’Istanbul, représentent, dans la terminologie de Vilém Flusser, des médiations[13]. De la sorte, ils ne manquent pas de créer un dialogue entre le lecteur et l’écrivain, entre le visiteur et le créateur du musée, mais, surtout, entre l’histoire étalée sous les regards et les histoires individuelles de ceux qui parcourent les pages du livre ou les salles de l’immeuble du quartier Çukurcuma. Le cadre d’analyse utilisé par les anthropologues au XXe siècle, par l’enregistrement détaillé, évolutif, de certains récits de vie, rejoint ici ce don de l’écrivain de créer un modèle exemplaire du couple. Car Kemal et Füsun viennent ainsi enrichir toute une galerie de personnages célèbres, qui vivent leurs jeux de l’amour et du hasard sous les regards captivés, ironiques, condescendants ou fascinés des lecteurs.

Dans quelle mesure les chapitres du livre et, notamment, les images des objets seraient, selon le mot de Jean Baudrillard, meurtrières du réel, ou, par contre, des instances qui conservent des fragments de réalité, c’est la question que doit se poser chaque lecteur du roman ou visiteur du musée. Cependant, une chose est certaine: Orhan Pamuk possède l’inégalable talent de donner libre cours à sa fantaisie, de transmettre des nuances dont les formes subsistent plus longtemps dans la mémoire affective que celles de réalités ou vérités vérifiables. Son livre et son musée se placent sous la coupole du diaphane. Rien n’est sûr en fin de compte (ni la dimension autobiographique du récit ou l’existence réelle du héros, censé avoir passé ses dernières années de vie dans la mansarde du musée et occupé à dévider à Orhan Bey – écrivain transformé en personnage – l’hisoire que celui-ci a mise dans les pages du livre et les vitrines, ni l’idée romantique de la collection d’objets hébergée chez les Keskin), mais la beauté du jeu réside précisément dans cette constante ambiguïté. Tout se tient sous le signe de l’intervalle, d’une distance entre ce qui s’est passé (ne fût-ce qu’au niveau fictionnel) et ce qui s’est transformé en réalité. C’est le regard qui éclaire l’espace intervallaire, en absorbant le récit de vie pour le placer entre les limites de ce qui mérite d’être connu, c’est-à-dire d’être vécu, et cela par procuration. Le sentier entre réalité et fiction se laisse parcourir dans les deux sens, mais Orhan Pamuk entend modifier le rapport institué, un siècle auparavant, par les romans réalistes. Leurs auteurs écrivaient le regard braqué sur l’offre du réel, tels des peintres qui se seraient enfin évadés de l’espace étriqué de l’atelier pour aller créer en plein air, captivés par une lumière qui savait placer les sujets sur la toile, alors que le narrateur turc a l’audace de mettre en jeu la fiction comme prétexte pour déclencher le réel, nous forçant presque à parier sur l’authenticité d’une histoire imaginaire. Le terme de référence, dans son cas, c’est la fiction. Tout y prend source et tout y remonte quand le visiteur compulse, dans le musée, les pages du roman (dont des exemplaires en bon nombre de langues européennes sont présents dans la plupart des salles) pour mieux saisir le témoignage des objets et des êtres qui les avaient utilisés autrefois. Les personnages descendent de la page écrite pour se voir revêtir une sorte de concrétude diaphane, secondée par la matérialité des objets qu’ils auraient maniés par le passé. C’est là un pari des plus audacieux, dont l’enjeu semble être le pouvoir d’animer le fantasme, de renforcer le statut de l’univers imaginaire, histoire de nous démontrer qu’il ne peut y avoir de rupture d’ordre ontologique entre les lecteurs et les personnages dont ils emboîtent le pas au fil des pages. Tout aussi « réels » que nous, les protagonistes du roman mettent à notre disposition, à l’aide du maître-marionnettiste, des photos, des vêtements, des bijoux, des objets, des pièces de mobilier – autant de séquences d’un acte d’identité, qui justifient de leur droit d’exister et de faire entendre leur histoire d’amour.



PAMUK, Orhan, 2010, Muzeul inocenței (Le Musée de l’innocence), trad. du turc par Luminița Munteanu, Iași, Polirom.

PAMUK, Orhan, 2011, Istanbul. Amintirile și orașul (Istanbul. Souvenirs d’une ville), trad. du turc par Luminița Munteanu, Iași, Polirom.

PAMUK, Orhan, 2012, L’Innocence des objets, trad. du turc par Valérie Gay-Aksoy, Paris, Gallimard.


ANADOLU-OKUR, Nilgun (ed.), 2009, Essays interpreting the writings of novelist Orhan Pamuk. The Turkish Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Lewiston, Edwin Mellen Press.

BAUDRILLARD, Jean, 1997, „The System of Collecting”, ELSNER, John, CARDINAL, Roger (eds.), The Cultures of Collecting, London, Reaktion.

BELK, Russel W., 1988, „Possessions and the Extended Self”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 15, septembre.

BELK, Russel W., 1990, „The Role of Possessions in Constructing and Maintaining a Sense of Past”, Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 17, p. 669-676.

BELTING, Hans, 2004, Pour une anthropologie des images, trad. fr., Paris, Gallimard.

CHERRIER, Hélène, 2010, „Custodian behavior: A material expression of anti-consumerism”, Consumption Markets and Culture, vol. 13, no 3, septembre, p. 259-272.

DAVENNE, Christine, 2011, Cabinets de Curiosités. La passion de la collection, Paris, La Martinière.

DEBRAY, Régis, 1997, Transmettre, Paris, Odile Jacob.

DUFFT, Catharina, 2008, Orhan Pamuks Istanbul, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowits Verlag.

FLUSSER, Vilém, 2003, „Text și imagine, 1984”, Pentru o filosofie a fotografiei, trad. roum., Cluj-Napoca, Design & Print.

HOWELLS, Richard, 2003, Visual Culture, Cambridge, Polity.

HUIZINGA, Johan, 1993, Amurgul Evului Mediu (L’Automne du Moyen Âge), trad. roum., București, Meridiane

LIICEANU, Gabriel, 2007, Despre seducție, București, Humanitas.

MAURIÈS, Patrick, 2002, Cabinets de curiosités, Paris, Gallimard.

SARTRE, Jean-Paul, 2004, Fiinţa şi neantul. Eseu de ontologie fenomenologică, trad. roum., Pitești, Paralela 45.

SCHULTZ KLEINE, Susan, MENZEL BAKER, Stacey, 2004, „An Integrative Review of Material Possession Attachment”, Academy of Science Review, vol. 1, p. 7-11.

VASILIU, Anca, 2010, Despre diafan. Imagine, mediu, lumină în filosofia antică și medievală, trad.roum., Iași, Polirom.

WITTKOWER, Rudolf, 1991, LOrient fabuleux, trad. fr., Paris, Thames & Hudson SARL.

[1] Lors de l’obtention du prix Nobel de littérature en 2006, la motivation du jury renvoyait explicitement à l’importance que les romans d’Orhan Pamuk accordent à l’âme mélancolique de sa ville natale et à sa physionomie multiculturelle. Cf. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2006/. D’ailleurs, Orhan Pamuk a écrit un ouvrage où les accords de la vie personnelle s’entrelacent avec ceux de la ville où il est né et a vécu: Istanbul. Souvenirs d’une ville (édition originale, 2003), trad. du turc (Istanbul. Amintirile și orașul) par Luminița Munteanu, Iași, Polirom, 2011. Les pages de remémoration de cet ouvrage gagnent en intérêt par son illustration avec des photos venant des archives de l’artiste Ara Güler, ainsi que de celles de Selahattin Giz ou de la collection d’images dues à Hilmi Șahenk, conservée dans les archives de la mairie d’Istanbul.

[2] Voir aussi Régis Debray, Cours de médiologie générale, Paris, Gallimard, 1991, version roumaine (Curs de mediologie generală) par Cristina Bâzu, Iași, Institutul European, 2001; Introduction à la médiologie, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1999.

[3] L’importance du récepteur sensoriel, du regard qui juge, distingue et impose une classification ou une hiérarchie axiologique, est aujourd’hui incontestable. D’ailleurs, Marcel Duchamp a fait voir, à maintes reprises, que le regard peut transformer l’objet le plus banal en œuvre d’art.

[4] « L’absence irrévocable du mort est rendue visible par la présence d’une image qui peut représenter cette absence. […]. En outre, le cadavre est une image éphémère, vouée à disparaître, tandis que l’artéfact est une image durable, construite pour une nouvelle vie. Il est le souvenir visible et non destructible, la réponse des vivants à la mort, inventée par ceux qui cherchaient à garder visible et vivace le souvenir des membres défunts de leur communauté. » (Hans Belting, 2004: 13)

[5] Pour une description de l’amour courtois, voir Johan Huizinga, 1993: 174-206, Gabriel Liiceanu, 2007: 76-83.

[6] Cette valeur définitionnelle de soi comporte plusieurs aspects,  tels que: la valeur autobiographique (attachement à des objets d’une importance toute particulière, qui accompagnent l’individu tout au long de sa vie, évoquant son passé et le soutenant dans les moments d’égarement ou de déséquilibre); la valeur narrative (manifeste notamment dans certains assortiments d’objets, susceptibles de récrire l’histoire de longues périodes de l’existence de l’individu), les valeurs contemplative, d’action, d’affiliation (les artefacts qui marquent les connexions interpersonnelles en diverses modalités, surtout par le rituel du don et de l’héritage) et ainsi de suite.

[7] La valeur de maintien de la stabilité de soi et de facilitation des changements de soi comporte la valeur adaptative (les objets ont le pouvoir d’aider l’individu à dépasser les moments qui supposent un changement difficile à accepter: séparation de la maison paternelle, divorce, perte d’une personne aimée, expatriation, etc.) et la valeur de préservation (l’équilibre de soi devient problématique et peut même disparaître au moment où les patients atteints de maladies terminales, par exemple, doivent renoncer aux biens personnels. D’autre part, le maintien d’un sentiment de soi est bien visible dans la planification qu’élaborent les gens âgés en vue de la transmission des objets préférés après leur mort; de cette manière, ils ont le sentiment de détenir le contrôle de leurs possessions  même post mortem.

[8] « Une fois entré dans l’appartement, soit je me dirigeais vers ces objets me rappelant les délices que me procurait sa présence, tels une tasse à thé, une broche égarée, une règle, un peigne, une gomme, un stylo à bille,  soit je me mettais à chercher, parmi les objets apportés là par ma mère, sous prétexte qu’ils étaient vieux et inutiles, quelque chose qu’elle avait touchée ou avec laquelle elle avait joué, et qui conservait le parfum de ma bien-aimée, de sorte que j’agrandissais ainsi ma collection, en passant tour à tour en revue, avec les yeux de l’esprit, les souvenirs qui s’attachaient à tous ces objets ». (Orhan Pamuk 2010: 211)

[9] Voir, à ce propos, les témoignages d’Orhan Pamuk dans son ouvrage autobiographique Istanbul. Amintirile și orașul (2011:  37).

[10] D’ailleurs, Orhan Pamuk avoue, dans le guide conçu pour illustrer et expliquer le Musée de l’innocence d’Istanbul, qu’il aime bien l’idée des cabinets de curiosités et qu’il ne voit pas de différence majeure entre les objets collectionnés par Kemal, ceux de la nature (roches, animaux empaillés) et les objets artificiels d’une collection de curiosités Cf. Orhan Pamuk, 2012: 254.

[11] Voir aussi Patrick Mauriès, Cabinets de curiosités, Paris, Éd. Gallimard, 2002.

[12] Il faut nous rappeler que, tout à leur début, ces cabinets étaient dénommés justement des Wunderkammer, chambres de merveilles, histoire de suggérer par là la présence de mirabilia dans leur composition.

[13] « Texte et image sont tous les deux des médiations. Ils doivent médiatiser entre les hommes et le monde environnant et intermédier entre les hommes. Tous les deux obéissent à une dialectique interne: ils se présentent pour ce qu’ils doivent représenter et il y a entre eux des séparations qu’ils doivent médiatiser. » (Flusser, 2003: 69)

Presidential Elections in Romania (November 2014). A Semio-Functional Analysis

Nicolae-Sorin DRĂGAN
National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest


The paper examines the way in which social actors position themselves discursively during final debates for presidential elections, both one toward the other, and toward the content of communication, from the perspective of functional theory of political campaign discourse. All five predictions of functional theory were tested in the two televised debates for presidential elections in Romania: 11 and 12 November in Realitatea TV station, B1 TV respectively. The study shows the similarities with the results obtained in other states, but also reveals the significant differences that change the structure of the functional theory predictions. The paper allow understanding of dialogue as a form of “living” communication and can be considered a plea for the reconfiguration of dialogue in the Romanian public space.

Keywords: presidential debate, functional theory, political communication culture, political semiotics.



Caught in the “semiotic web” (Rovenţa-Frumuşani, 2012: 32) of other people’s discourses, “in a world of others’ words” (Bakhtin, 1984: 143), we try to find our way through the woods of symbols that Baudelaire mentioned since 1857[1]. How can one find one’s natural, logical way in such a world? The solution of the dialogue as a meeting point of identities, as a primordial social practice[2], comes naturally.

Although we have the “voluptuous habit of chattering” (Pleşu, 2015b), the Romanian public space suffers from a lack of a civilisation of dialogue. We have come to have a “mystique of dialogue”[3] instead of a genuine dialogue. Comprehending dialogue as a form of “living” communication is even more necessary, as Constantin Noica preferred that communication be understood, as “Eucharist, because it means communion, it means a participation of each of us to the thoughts and to what the Other has to say” (Pleşu, 2015a). It is only thus that one can show one is looking (responsibly) to the other. Andrei Pleşu (2014) claimed that “in the old Romanian language, when a person became a dignitary, the chronicler said the following: he fell to great esteem. But ‘he fell’. One enters a state of servitude, enters a mechanism that places one in the condition of a servant, above all”. Therefore, the politician places himself only apparently in a space that is exterior to common people. He is “thrown” there by democratic mechanisms. His state of exteriority is a fall to great esteem. His presence there means serving the common good. There is a term in Heidegger’s philosophy that describes this movement. The term is Geworfenheit, to be thrown[4]. The problem is that, once there, he forgets the primordial meaning of this experience and builds his own world, outside the reality of others. Televised debates are the opportunity that politicians can use to return to the interiority where they had been apparently thrown from. It is the moment of the reverse movement. From the outside, the exteriority where they had been sent, inside, to common people. Authentic, living performance can be the solution for politicians to take seriously the experience of exteriority and to return to the naturalness of interiority. One cannot waste such an experience when one wants to give meaning to one’s relationship to others. For politicians such an effort is even more necessary, more relevant.

The televised debate is considered “superior to other communication forms” (Pfau, 2002: 251) and can be regarded as a special form of communication that, on the one hand, reveals the relationship of social actors with the language, and, on the other hand, expresses their capacity of understanding otherness. The televised debates remain essential forms of communication for the functioning of democracy (Coleman, 2000: 1; Beciu, 2009: 139-140) and could be an ideal opportunity for candidates to establish an interpretation of reality, to impose control and symbolic representations of the situation in the political field. Although the mediatic discourse exploits first of all the spectacular dimension of the debate, one should not neglect the generative dimension of this discursive genre. In the metabolism of debate we can see discursive behaviour models that generalise in the verbal interactions in the public space. Televised debate can be regarded as a diagnosis of the civilisation of dialogue in the local political life. Camelia Beciu states that any “electoral debate (or any other mediatic product) is a relevant communicational space for the public culture of society” (2015: 262). From this standpoint, the work is a plea for the reconfiguration of dialogue in dialogic interactions in the Romanian public space (particularly in televised political debates), for the construction of an authentic dialogue, where normality and the deliberative aspect should be considered discursive rules.

In the next section we present a brief introduction to the functional theory of political discourse as strategic positioning of social actors in the semiotic act of televised debate. The third section contains research methodology. In the fourth section we present the results of the research, followed by some discussion in the fifth section. The last part of the paper is dedicated to conclusions.


Functional theory of political campaign discourse 

This article is based on the premise that televised political debates are conflictual, competitive verbal interactions. Obviously, political messages and declarations aim to win the election. Starting from this premise, a functional approach to analyze political debates appears appropriate. Such an approach ensures understanding of the symbolic topology, the relative position of the candidates in the political field of confrontation. We depart from the five axioms formulated by Benoit (2014: 9-19):

  • Vote is a comparative act;
  • Candidates should distinguish themselves from other opponents;
  • Political campaign messages allow candidates to distinguish themselves from others (to assert their identity).
  • Candidates set up desirability (are positioned on a preference scale) by three discursive functions: acclamations (A1), attacks (A2), defenses (A3)
  • Election campaigns discourse targeting two main themes: policies (P) and character (C).

The first axiom implies a certain competence of the citizens, who have to decide on preference of a particular candidate in a comparative way. The following two axioms include candidates’ identity construction; and the last two concern discursive tools available for the candidates to position favorably on the audience preference scale.

In the functional theory of political discourse, candidates are positioned on the preference scale by three discursive functions: acclamation, attacks and defenses. Acclamations are positive statements aiming to promote self-image, and to increase the social desirability of the candidate. Attacks are discursive interventions targeting weaknesses and limitations of the opponent (Benoit, 2011). Attacks are used to reduce a candidate’s social desirability. Defenses are statements which reject the opponent’s attacks and which could influence candidate’s level of preference (Benoit, 2014). The three discursive functions are mutually stimulated and conditioned (Benoit and Wells, 1996: 112). Benoit and Airne noted that “these three functions work together as an informal form of cost-benefit analysis: acclaims increase benefits, attacks increase an opponent’s costs, and defenses reduce a candidate’s alleged costs” (2005: 226). The two authors suggest a strategic approach of discursive exchanges during the televised debate. The three discursive functions – acclamations, attacks and defenses – work together and are complementary instruments in the construction of the candidates’ discursive strategy. The functional theoretical approach in the political discourse is assimilated to a type of cost-benefit analysis. Candidates engage in polemic discursive exchanges “peeking” at the audience, trying to persuade the public to act in their favor (Hinck and Hinck, 2002).



This paper proposes an analysis of televised debates for presidential elections in Romania, in November 2014, from the perspective of functional theory of political campaign discourse. We depart from Benoit (2014) hypothesis regarding functions of the discourse in political campaigns:

H1: Candidates use acclamations more frequently than attacks; and attacks more often than defenses.

H2: Comments on the policy themes will be much more common than those relating to the character of the candidates.

H3. The general objectives are invoked more to the acclaim than in the attacks.

H4. Candidates use values more to acclaim than to attack.

H5. Candidates will attack more and acclaim less on future plans than on general objectives.

All five hypotheses of the functional theory were tested in the two televised debates for the presidential elections in Romania, 2014 (November,11 and 12, at Realitatea TV channel, and B1 TV channel respectively). Candidates who took part in the two debates were Victor Ponta (PSD, Social Democratic Party leader) and the prime minister at that time, and Klaus Iohannis (PNL, National Liberal Party chairman), former mayor of Sibiu at that time, who is of Saxon origin. Note here that Klaus Iohannis is currently the president of Romania. The two debates constituted the corpus for our analysis.

In order to test the hypothesis of the functional theory, we used the content analysis techniques, mainly thematic content analysis. The three discursive functions we discussed above were grouped around two main themes: policies and candidate’s character – suggesting a categorical scheme of content analysis. The first theme, “Policies” consists of three categories, distributed on the base of a temporal criterion: past actions (achievements) (PA), future plans (FP) and general objectives (GO). The second theme, “Character” consists of three categories as well: personal qualities (PQ), leadership skills (LS) and ideals/values (I). Registration units were considered assertions, claims, statements, and arguments of candidates (themes), and each theme was coded for one out of the three discursive functions: acclaims (A1), attacks (A2), defenses (A3). For the first televised debate (Realitatea TV channel, 11 November 2014), there have been 473 assertions concerning the candidates: 259 assertions of the governing party’s candidate (Victor Ponta) and 214 of the opposition candidate (Klaus Iohannis). For the second debate (B1 TV channel, 12 November 2014), there have been 463 assertions, 252 of the governing party’s candidate (Victor Ponta) and 211 of the opposition candidate (Victor Ponta).



The first hypothesis is partially confirmed (we have more attacks than defense, acclamations occupying intermediate position). In the first televised debate, the frequencies for each type of discursive function were: A2 (45.9%) > A1 (34.5%) > A3 (19.6%). The descending order in the distribution of frequencies was maintained in the second debate as well: A2 (45.8%) > A1 (36.7%) > A3 (17.5%). Only in the case of the opposition candidate, Klaus Iohannis, during the second debate, the relationship between the three discursive functions is consistent with the first hypothesis: A1 (46.4%) > A2 (44.6%) > A3 (9%). Klaus Iohannis used particularly offensive enunciations (attacks) on issues related to corruption in the presidential elections and diaspora vote. Victor Ponta used offensive enunciations much more on the Policies theme than on the Character theme.

Table 1. Frequency distribution for each discursive function, in the first debate

(11 November 2014, Realitatea TV)

  Acclaims (A1) Attacks (A2) Defenses (A3) Total
Victor Ponta 89 (34.4%) 101 (39%) 69 (26.6%) 259
Klaus Iohannis 74 (34.6%) 116 (54.2%) 24 (11.2%) 214
First debate (D1)
– Nov. 11, 2014 –
163 (34.5%) 217 (45.9%) 93 (19.6%) 473

χ2 = 20.09, p < .01


Table 2. Frequency distribution for each discursive function, in the second debate

(12 November 2014, B1 TV).

  Acclaims (A1) Attacks (A2) Defenses (A3) Total
Victor Ponta 72 (28.6%) 118 (46.8%) 62 (24.6%) 252
Klaus Iohannis 98 (46.4%) 94 (44.6%) 19 (9%) 211
Second debate (D2)
– Nov. 12, 2014 –
170 (36.7%) 212 (45.8%) 81 (17.5%) 463

χ2 = 13.59, p < .01


The chi-square test calculated for the three types of discursive functions shows significant differences in the way the two candidates used those functions in the two debates: χ2 = 20.09, p < .01, in first debate; respectively χ2  = 13.59, p < .01, in the second debate.

Regarding the second hypothesis, the results show that, particularly in the first debate, candidates focused rather on discussion about policy actions than on issues of candidate’s character (H2 was confirmed). It was found that during the second debate politicians had talked more about policy (75% of the enunciations) in comparison with the first debate (60% of the enunciations). Also, in the second debate they had talked less about character (25% of the enunciations) in comparison with the first debate (40% of the enunciations).


Table 3. Enunciations in the first debate (11 November 2014, RealitateaTV).

  Policy (P) Character (C) Total
Victor Ponta 170 (65.7%) 89 (34.3%) 259
Klaus Iohannis 113 (52.8%) 101 (47.2%) 214
First debate (D1)
– Nov. 11, 2014 –
283 (59.9%) 190 (40.1%) 473

χ2 = 8.03, p < .01


Table 4. Enunciations in the second debate (12 November 2014, B1TV).

  Policy (P) Character (C) Total
Victor Ponta 197 (78.5%) 54 (21.5%) 251
Klaus Iohannis 150 (71%) 62 (29%) 212
Second debate (D2)
– Nov. 12, 2014 –
347 (75%) 116 (25%) 463

χ2 = .12, p (=.72) > .05 (non-significant)


The chi-square test was significant, when we tested the differences between the way candidates used “Policy” versus “Opponent Character” enunciations in the first debate (χ2  = 8.03, p = .005 < .01) and non-significant (χ2 = .12, p =.72 > .05), for the second debate.

Table 5 and Table 6 present results from the testing of the third hypothesis. We noticed that both candidates had used general objectives to acclaim more than to attack, with only one exception – Victor Ponta, during first debate, who used general objectives to attack (5 times), in comparison with acclamation (one time). Therefore we confirmed the third hypothesis.

The fourth hypothesis was confirmed as well by our data. Both candidates used values more for acclamation than for attacks, during both debates. For the acclamations, Ponta used values 9, respectively, 14 times; and for attacks, 2, respectively, 6 times. Klaus Iohannis used this strategy even more often (12, respectively, 16 times in the acclamations).


Table 5. The structure of main topics by discursive functions, in the first debate

(11 November 2014, Realitatea TV).

  Policy Character
A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3
Victor Ponta 34 50 40 1 5 1 27 8 4 8 18 18 10 18 2 9 2 4
Klaus Iohannis 3 59 16 3 1 1 17 11 2 9 18 2 30 22 3 12 5 0
TOTAL (category) 202 12 69 73 85 32
TOTAL (topics) 283 190


Table 6. The structure of main topics by discursive functions, in the second debate

(12 November 2014, B1 TV).


  Policy Character
A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3 A1 A2 A3
Victor Ponta 36 56 27 11 6 5 13 14 6 12 24 4 14 8 2 14 6 2
Klaus Iohannis 14 48 10 12 6 0 30 15 1 13 13 2 16 8 1 16 3 0
TOTAL (category) 191 40 79        68 49 41
TOTAL (topics) 310 158


The fifth hypothesis was partially confirmed. In both televised debates, both candidates attacked more on future plans than on general objectives, but acclaimed more on future plans than on general objectives: 27, respectively 17 times in comparison with once, respectively, 3 times during first debate – for Victor Ponta; and, in the case of Klaus Iohannis, 13, respectively, 30 times in comparison with 11, respectively, 12 times during the second debate.



The results allow us to compare the two candidates’ distribution of enunciations on general topics and discursive functions, for each of the two debates, in a comparative way.

The data show that the candidate who was already in power Victor Ponta (prime-minister at that time) used the defense strategy more often than the opposition candidate Klaus Iohannis, in both debates: 26.6% versus 11.2% of the enunciations in the first debate; the difference increased during the second debate: 24.6% versus 9% of the enunciations. The data presented in the Table 1 show that during the first debate, opposition candidate Klaus Iohannis attacked more (54.2% of the enunciations) than the candidate in power Victor Ponta (39% enunciations). Table 2 shows how the situation has changed during the second debate, when Victor Ponta attacked more (46.8%) than Klaus Iohannis (44.6%). Related to the first discursive function – acclamation – we observe that during the first debate, candidates have used acclamation in relatively equal proportions (34.5%), while during the second debate opposition candidate Klaus Iohannis has used acclamation more (46.4%) than Victor Ponta (28.6%).

Benoit indicated three reasons for which candidates could limit their use of defensive enunciations (defenses) and be more offensive (Benoit, 2007). The first reason is that defensive enunciations keep a candidate “outside” the message due to the fact that attacks are mostly drawn to address the weaknesses of the interaction partner. Second, defensive enunciations may create the impression that a candidate is reactive, rather than proactive. Third, defensive enunciations have the potential to inform or remind voters of possible weaknesses of each candidate. From this point of view, the candidate in power at that time, Victor Ponta, was worse placed than his opponent, Klaus Iohannis. The defensive enunciations of Victor Ponta focused on his past actions (40) and on his personal character (18) in the first debate; decreasing in frequency during the second debate (27) on past actions. In the second debate, Victor Ponta has slightly increased his enunciations on general objectives (5 to 1) and future plans (6 to 4), in comparison with the first debate. These data show that Victor Ponta looked for an improvement in his discursive strategy from the first to the second debate.

It should note Iohannis’ ability to attack on prominent issues, in the forefront of media agenda, but also on the public agenda, respectively on the elections issues regarding the diaspora (these attacks paid off). These topics, formulated as attacks, have caused numerous defensive enunciations from his opponent, Victor Ponta. During the first debate, opposition candidate attacked mostly on past actions, on leadership skills and on the personal character of the candidate who was in power. During the second debate, Klaus Iohannis has slightly decreased the attacks on past actions and increased the number of attacks on the opponent’s future plans. Ponta’s attacks focused on the opposition candidate’s past actions, on his personal character and his leadership skills, during the first debate; whereas during the second debate, his attacks intensified on the personal character dimension, on the past actions and the drab personality of the opponent.

In a recent study (Drăgan, 2015), we tried to explain the relatively high percent of defenses in Romanian televised debates (approximately 18% of the total enunciations) in comparison with the data gathered in other countries (5-10% of the total enunciations). This should be consider together with the relatively high number of discursive interventions which can be labeled as “attack type” (46%), in comparison with an average of 35% – such discursive interventions in other countries (Benoit, 2014). The difference could be explained when we take into account the qualitative content of the two discursive functions (defense and attack), and the role of political culture in the mechanism of Television debate. Camelia-Mihaela Cmeciu and Monica Pătruţ obtained a similar distribution of discursive interventions in the analysis of the debate on 14 November 2009 (2010: 34): A2 (42.4%) > A1 (25%) > A3 (32.6%). The data obtained in our study confirm the results obtained in previous studies (Cmeciu and Pătruţ, 2010) and could suggest a political communication culture focused more on attack rather than on defense strategy. This could be considered an easier approach in comparison with more complex strategies as acclamations.

As research limitation, we mention here constraints related to: fidelity of the coding procedure, adequate interventions of candidates to the moderator style, and report of the contextual developments during the time the research was conducted.



The present study has as a starting point in Benoit’s functional theory, trying to reveal semiotic dynamics of the three discursive functions – acclamations, attacks, defenses – during Television political debates. Tensions of the discursive exchanges attack-defense invite the public, beyond the cognitive processes, to participate in the construction of the decision on their preference for a particular candidate. The particular mode in which social players use the three discursive functions in the debate can be used by voters to decide which of the candidates is preferred. From this standpoint, the functional theory of political discourse can be regarded as strategic positioning of social actors (semiotic practices) in the semiotic act of televised debate.

Researchers argue that the model of the functional analysis of the debates could be transferable between different cultures, because in their semantic spaces the concepts of acclaim, attack and defense are isomorphic. The three types of discursive interventions may be slightly operationalized and defined in multiple languages and cultures. However, the present study, but other studies conducted in Europe, such as the study of Isotalus (2011) in connection with the debates in Finland, do not fully confirm the assumptions of functional theory. Some cultural particularities – definition by cultural context of the rules of political dialogue, particularities relating  to type  of acclamations, attacks or defenses in different cultures, role of the moderator, quality of the questions submitted to candidates and so on – may determine cultural variability of the results (Holtz-Bacha and Kaid, 2011).

Still, our study shows similarities with the results obtained in other countries, and highlights on potential differences, which challenge the functional theory assumptions.

The functional analysis of political discourse can be regarded as an instrument that helps us diagnose the discursive behavior of social actors during televised debates, the civilisation of dialogue in the local political life.



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PLEŞU, Andrei, 2015a, Interviewed by Daniela Zeca-Buzura, Mic dejun cu un campion (Breakfast With A Champion), TVR2, May 9, 2015.

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BECIU, Camelia, 2015, „Dezbaterile electorale şi rolul mediei în campania prezidenţială 2014 din România”, Revista Română De Sociologie, 26 (3), p.253-278. Available at: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1717443426?accountid=136549 (accessed January 24, 2016).

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http://www.tandfonline.com.am.enformation.ro/doi/pdf/10.1080/08824090701624221 (accessed March 22, 2015).

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ISOTALUS, Pekka, 2011, „Analyzing Presidential Debates. Functional Theory and Finnish Political Communication Culture”, Nordicom Review 32, no. 1, p.31-43. Available at:

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[1] “L’homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles / Qui l’observent avec des regards familiers.” (Man walks through woods of symbols / Which gaze at him with familiar eyes.) – Baudelaire, Correspondances

[2] “Meaning without communication is not possible. In this way, we might say, that dialogue precedes language and gives birth to it. And this also lies at the heart of the notion of semiosphere”, Juri Lotman, 2005, “On the semiosphere”, Sign Systems Studies, 33.1, p.218-219.

[3] “It is politically correct to say: ‘Everything is solved by dialogue’; ‘Dialogue is holy. Any problem, any crisis can be solved by talking. Dialogue.’; ‘Everything is dialogue, tolerance, opening, dialogue etc.’ This mythology of dialogue, which has its good reasons, should not be idolised, though. Dialogue is not possible in whatever conditions, and we, in Romania, today, should know it too well. Dialogue needs a certain type of situation to be born lawfully and to be carried out coherently. One cannot have a dialogue with a wall; one cannot have a dialogue with something closed. Dialogue means, on the contrary, availability, opening. Closing is external to the idea of dialogue”, Andrei Pleşu, Conference given on 27 October 2010, in the Aula of the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi.

[4] “Heidegger says that what is typical for the situation of man in the world is that he gets thrown into the world. How does our life start? With an expulsion outside. Outside the comfortable, nutritional, protective mother’s womb. Man’s first experience with the world and life is waking up outside. And he has to do something about this situation. He didn’t ask for it, says Heidegger, it is a situation where you find yourself, you don’t know why, no one has asked you, you don’t know where to, but that’s it, you’re suddenly outside. Being in the world means being outside. […] The world is outside. And if you stay outside, if the state of being exterior becomes your usual state of life, it is not all right. Pursuit begins with the effort of finding an inner landmark, of installing yourself in this outside with an identity because the world, which is exterior, tends to reduce you to its exteriority, says Heidegger. The world renders you anonymous. It takes away your portrait. It makes you melt inside it. And then you have to do something.” (Andrei Pleşu, Conference in the Aula of the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi)

The Sultan and His Janissaries. Gheorghe Hagi and the Golden Era of Galatasaray Istanbul

Octavian GABOR
Methodist College, Peoria IL
e-mail: ogaborus@gmail.com


In 1996, Galatasaray Istanbul made a transfer that was to change the face of Turkish football. Gheorghe Hagi, former FC Barcelona player, signed a new contract during which he helped the Turkish team to win the UEFA Cup and the European Super Cup. These performances have not been since matched by any Turkish team, although many star players came to play in this Middle Eastern country. Some may argue that the lack of success is explained by the fact that the end of the 90’s still allowed for poetry in football and that a player such as Hagi could still decide the fate of a game before it became very structured. Such people forget that the recent four years have been dominated by a poetical team, F.C. Barcelona, where players such as Messi or Xavi bring their individual, creative contribution to an already established structure. In this paper I want to propose a different take on the problem. I will explore how the culture of a certain player fits the culture of the country in which he gets transferred. Gheorghe Hagi comes from Romania, an Eastern European country not far away from Turkey. The common Balkan culture contributed, I believe, to Hagi’s adaptation to a style of football that needs a “sultan.”

Although one of the great players of the century, Hagi could not flourish during his period at Real Madrid or Barcelona, where the team is more important than any one player. In his heart and in his style of play, Hagi was always a sultan who needed his Janissaries. Galatasaray Istanbul offered him precisely that.

Keywords: sports communication, football, culture, individualism, collectivism



“I am an Orthodox Christian, but I am a star among the Muslims. Not any Muslim, mind you; only those of a specific nationality: Turkish. If I really want to be precise, which is probably never a virtue in the East, I am popular among those Turks who worship a certain football team: Galatasaray Istanbul. The fans of Fenerbahce or Besiktas do not light up when they see me; nevertheless, there is an acknowledgment, a sign of respect. We know each other—there is mutual understanding, there is a history we share.” And that history has a name: Gheorghe Hagi, the man who is perhaps one of the most, if not the most, beloved player who ever stepped on Galatasaray’s pitch. Hagi and I share the same nationality, Romanian. This common trait makes me very likeable among the Turks, and so, whenever I meet Galatasaray fans, the joy on their faces is accompanied by the chant, “I love you, Hagi!”

There are perhaps many social, cultural, and even philosophical problems that can be discussed by looking at the role Hagi played in the history of Turkish football. First, problems of identity: is Hagi a Turkish hero by adoption or rather a Romanian one by birth? Did he represent Romanian or Turkish football when he played for the colors of Galatasaray? Why is it that Romanians and Turks alike celebrated the team’s 2000 UEFA Cup win? Second, we can contemplate aspects of mimetic love and desire – I am accepted by a certain community because I come from the same nation with the one whom that community idolizes. Third, we can discuss how football is, as many describe it, our lingua franca, our common language which brings together Muslims and Christians, East and West, North and South. Perhaps a sport such as football, which expresses and manifests at a micro level the globalized state of our world, is indeed appropriate for such approaches. To some extent, all of the questions above will remain in the background of this paper, and hopefully our discussion will shed some light on them. The main focus here is however yet another aspect: the perfect fit between the culture of a team and that of a soccer player. I take it that the success that Gheorghe Hagi and Galatasaray had at the end of the 20th century is explained in part by the complementarity between the culture of Turkish football and the desire to be considered king by one of the of the most talented players of that century.


Historical Background

Before the last years of the twentieth century, Turkish football was not considered a power. The situation may have been connected with its humble beginnings. According to David Goldblatt, football was associated with dangerous Western ideas at the end of 19th century. Thus, the game was first played “among the British commercial community in Izmir” (Goldblatt, 2008: 168). Football was just too foreign to Turkish culture and could not be adopted. Goldblatt mentions various theological reasons why the sultanate could not accept the new game for the entire population. Here are two of them: “First it was claimed that football would keep students away from their studies and their Koran. More worryingly, the wearing of shorts and the display of naked flesh was deemed too salacious” (Goldblatt, 2008: 169). Still, the game caught on, especially with the “young highly educated urban Turks,” and the great teams of Istanbul, Besiktas, Fenerbahce, and Galatasaray were founded in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Football was still a Western implant that did not fully find its natural being on Turkish soil. At the outskirts of Europe and not developed economically to the level of the West, Turkey could not compete with the world’s soccer powers for almost the entire 20th century. For a country developed on a former empire, this was not an easy thing to accept. During all this period of time, the national team qualified only once for a World Cup, in 1954. 42 years had to pass before Turkey qualified for another major final tournament, the Euro 1996, where “it didn’t score a goal or register a point” (Kuper and Szymanski, 2009: 299).

1996 was the moment when, after two years at F.C. Barcelona, Romanian footballer Gheorghe Hagi signed for Galatasaray Istanbul. Hagi was already considered one of the most talented players of his time. If he shined playing in the national team of Romania, especially during the 1994 World Cup, his performances at the club level were never as impressive, be it during his years at Real Madrid (1990-1992), Brescia Calcio (1992-1994), or Barcelona (1994-1996). Many considered his transfer to Galatasaray the sign that his career was approaching its sunset. As we saw, it was a time when Turkish football did not have the recognition it has today. In fact, according to Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, “from 1980 through 2001, Turkey was the second-worst underperformer in European soccer. It scored a full goal per game fewer than it should have done given its vast population, decent experience in international soccer, and admittedly low incomes” (Kuper and Szymanski, 2009: 298). The statistics refer to national teams, not to clubs, but still, a soccer star does not often choose to move in a country where he would not be guaranteed international notoriety, and Turkish clubs were not known as performers either. Hagi was 31 years old. His recent two seasons playing for Barcelona had not been among his best. In the Spanish league, he only appeared for about half of the games and scored seven goals, perhaps one of the weakest performances of his career[1]. However, the transition to Galatasaray proved salutary for both him and Turkish soccer. From the beginning, it seemed that Hagi did not need time to adjust to a new style of playing. After two games, he had already scored three goals, almost half as many as he did for Barcelona in two seasons of La Liga. In 2000, Galatasaray won the UEFA Cup against Arsenal and the European Super Cup against Real Madrid. These performances are yet to be attained by any other Turkish team. In 2001, at the end of his career and after five years at Galatasaray, Gheorghe Hagi had scored 71 goals in 191 games for the Istanbul team. His final game was moving for all in the audience. The fans prepared a special banner: “HAGI, we will never forget you!”



There are two surprising facts here, one of them at the individual level, the other at a collective level. First, great fame and successes in football are usually attained in the early ages of one’s career. Consider Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, or Del Piero, not to mention Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who were already famous in their early 20s. Each of these players reached the peak of their glories before they were 30. Hagi came at Galatasaray when he was 31 and was already 35 years old in the year of Galata’s great success. Second, at the beginning of the 1999-2000 European season, few if any would have bet for a success of the Turkish team. These two successes are certainly connected. I think the explanation can be found in the compatibility between the Turkish paternalist culture and Hagi’s individual style of play. Hagi could play his best football only in a team that was constructed to support his genius. Galata breathed football in the Hagi style. In other words, Hagi played for a team that was built according to the role that he himself thought he had on the pitch—that of a Sultan who needed his janissaries[2]. Fatih Terim, the renowned Turkish coach, himself nick-named the Emperor by the Galata fans, built a team in which young, talented Turkish players were on the pitch by the Sultan. The team needed four years to reach maturity before obtaining the European performance mentioned above.

The Turkish success is similar to other sporadic Eastern European successes. In a competition where the usual winners are the highly organized clubs of the West, all victories coming from east of the former Berlin Wall are a matter of surprise. In the case of Galatasaray, the success is explained by the fortuitous match between Gheorghe Hagi, the team’s most exponent player, and the club’s culture. This fit was given by two factors: first, by what I would call the “Sultan culture,” and second by a complex of second-class citizens of Europe shared among the countries of the East. In what follows I will analyze each of these two factors.


The Sultan Culture

In football, the chemistry between the members of a team is certainly important. This means that a football team needs to function as an organism in order to obtain good results. It is never enough to have the best eleven players in the world play together. They need to be organized according to one principle, one philosophy. From this perspective, the relationship between the part and the whole, that is, the relationship between an individual player and a team needs always be one of belonging.

Coaches always emphasize the importance of the team’s structure – we win as a team, we lose as a team – and players are familiarized with such discourses even since their early experiences with football. The focus on the unity or wholeness of the club-organism is found even in the public discourses of players. Think of a cliché such as this, “my goal today was not important; the team’s win is important.” Or, “it does not matter where I play – it is the coach’s decision, and my job is to put myself in the service of the team.” There is perhaps no Sunday without such phrases uttered by one of the thousand of footballers all around.

When such unity is achieved, spectacular results can take place. I think it is the explanation for another success coming from Eastern Europe, Steaua Bucharest, who won the European Champions Cup (the former Champions League) in 1996 with a very organized game. Jonathan Wilson cites Ștefan Iovan, one of Steaua’s defenders, who says, “Each of us knew exactly our jobs, and we had such a perfect idea of where to pass the ball that if the coach had asked us to play with our eyes closed  we could have put the ball where we needed to… We were like a perfect car” (Wilson, 2006: 209). Still Wilson recollects that “Arie Haan, the great Dutch player whose Anderlecht side were hammered 3-0 in Bucharest in the second leg of the semi-final, said he had never seen a side play with such a rhythm” (Wilson, 2006: 209).

Steaua’s success in Europe was surprising, but the team, which also transferred Hagi soon after winning the cup, reached the semifinals in 1988 and the final in 1989. The team continued to have the same philosophy of play, continued by Anghel Iordănescu, who became the main coach after being the assistant coach in the European Cup season. Of course, it is always the coach’s job to make all players on a team act and play together. But the problem is that these players have radically individual ways of playing the game. These differences are determined by several factors—the amount and quality of training during early age, the constitution of their bodies, but also, most importantly, the culture in which they grew up. It is one of the characteristics of soccer that the styles of play are connected with the nationality of the teams. Players and observers of the phenomenon alike agree with this claim. Gianlucca Vialli, for example, the Italian who spent his last years as a footballer at Chelsea, says that “Climate, culture, social class, economic conditions, all play their part. They divide the footballing world – but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it enriches us. Without it, there would be no ‘Italian football’, ‘English football’ or ‘Brazilian football.’” (Vialli and Marcotti, 2006: 18).

In a globalized world, with teams constituted by players who come from all over the world, such perspective may be obsolete. Nevertheless, in the Premier League we still see English football and in the Bundesliga German football. I think the explanation is given by the dialectic between individuality and universality that is played at two levels: that of an individual player and that of an individual team. At the level of the individual player, as Vialli acknowledges, people grow up in diverse countries, with different economical conditions, different climates, and so their bodies are going to be formed depending on the economical status of their own countries and, of course, of their own families[3]. It is this “material” that comes to be shaped in a footballer by the several coaches a player has during his or her career. Materially speaking, coaches deal with bodies that are determined by accountable, economical factors.

But a player is not only a body with physical characteristics. A player is also a human that grows up in a culture which determines his or her general attitude toward life. When they step on the football pitch, footballers do not leave their lives at home, but they take all these aspects with them. What this means is that the coaches need to organize the team not only abstractly, but also to apply their theoretical understanding of the game to the reality of the human matter they deal with. The strong emphasis on the fact that a coach should decide on a transfer, and not the owner, who pays the transfer fees and makes sure that the player is paid, finds its explanation here. Football is not a computer game. One cannot make a footballer play on any position, but rather adapt the system to the human material one has[4].

In such a context, it is very important what kind of players one chooses. On the one hand, coaches want to choose players who can play the part they will be assigned on a team. On the other hand, they also want players who would fit culturally and so would get along with their colleagues[5]. A football team is not only the putting together of eleven players, just as an orchestra is not the mere assembly of musicians. One needs to have a philosophy, an idea, and such idea is instilled by the coach (the conductor). Consider the A.C. Milan of Ariggo Sacchi or the F.C. Barcelona of Guardiola. They are certainly the teams of Milan and Barcelona, respectively, but also, in a particular way, the teams of the two coaches who fashioned them according to clear principles. At their turn, these coaches are themselves products of schools of football, and so combine the uniqueness of their particularity with the ethos of their cultures.

It becomes clear why the question of the match between the culture of an individual player and that of the club for which he signs is difficult and involves, as I mentioned, several levels of identity. But let us focus for the moment on that which players, coaches, and especially fans call the spirit of a team. Regardless of the human component over the ages, fans perceive one team as being that of a certain coach only in a limited sense. Consider Galatasaray: The 1996-2000 period, perhaps one of the most glorious period both on the national and international levels, was that of Fatih Terim’s and Gheorghe Hagi’s Galatasaray. For fans such a period actually signifies the moment in which the team reached its full potential. Thus, after successes of this nature, the identity of the team, that is, the team as it is represented in their hearts, is the winning team of the end of the 20th century. In comparison, during the 2010-2011 season, when Galatasaray did not perform to the level it accustomed its fans, newspapers claimed not only that players no longer had the quality of former stars, but also that they did not understand what Galata means – they did not understand the spirit of the team. Gheorghe Hagi’s comeback as coach in the fall of 2010 was seen as the sign that the former glory may return. People thought that Hagi would bring back with him the spirit of the winner[6].

Although usually connected with the period of the highest achievement, the spirit of a team is a much more complicated concept and depends on more than one variables: history, the social structure of the neighborhood in which it was established, past heroes, fans, and most importantly the education instilled in the club’s youth programs. When a player is transferred, he not only needs to understand what the coach desires of him on the pitch, but also to take at heart a whole philosophy. If we were to think again at Barcelona, Ibrahimovic’s example says much about this difficulty. Ibrahimovic is still one of the fuoriclasse, as the Italians call them, but his experience at Barcelona was a fiasco because he could not adapt to the team’s culture. It is almost as if a doctor would perform a transplant of an organ that does not match the receiver. And so, the moment of any transfer, but especially for international transfers, clubs need to take into consideration not only whether a player has great skills, but also whether he would adapt well to the philosophy of the team[7].

The connection between a great player and the culture of a team allowed for the success of the Galatasaray of the end of the 20th century. This does not mean, of course, that this factor is the only one responsible for the result. As in any other field, success is usually explained by various elements. Some believe, for example, that economical and political facts are the main variables that explain the rise of a team. Cem Emrence, for example, believes that “spatial and social inequalities in Turkey that accelerated with globalization were crucial for the team’s success in Europe.” Then, Emrence says, “as certain cities have become nodes in the new spatial setting of the global economy, the club management of Galatasaray exploited the position of Istanbul as a financial center, borrowing heavily from globally connected local banks to finance the building of a strong squad that put the team on an equal ground with its European rivals” (Emrence, 2007: 630). To be sure, financial power is important in football. In order to be able to make the transfers the club needs, there must be money available. My focus on the cultural aspects of forming a team does not deny Emrence’s view, but rather shows that financial power is not equal with success if money is not invested by respecting a culture and following a philosophy.

Kuper and Szymanski also think that Turkish football was saved by globalization, but they explain this in different tones. They believe that cultural differences are not important and that international success requires following international rules. It is not an individual style that can ever have success in the long run, but the combinations of those styles. They think that the success of the football periphery is explained by the adoption of styles that have no connection with their tradition. For them,

Turks came to the realization that every marginal country needs: there is only one way to play good soccer – you combine Italian defending with German work ethic and Dutch passing into the European style. (“Industrial soccer,” some Turks sulkily call it.) In soccer, national styles don’t work. You have to have all the different elements. You cannot win international matches playing traditional Turkish soccer. You need to play continental European soccer (Kuper and Szymanski, 2009: 299).

Kuper’s and Szymanski’s analysis suffers precisely in diminishing the cultural aspect. If we look at the Galatasaray team of the end of the century, it was not an “industrial soccer” that the fans saw on the pitch. Instead, it was rather a football orchestrated around a soloist, Gheorghe Hagi, with fast, skilled, talented young Turkish players making runs for his passes or opening the field for his dribblings. I mentioned above Gianlucca Vialli’s division of football in accordance with culture. If there is a model that would define Turkish football, perhaps it would be that of paternalism. In a culture in which authority is important, football seems to follow a similar pattern: to be listened, the coaches need to be authoritarian. Fatih Terim, Galatasaray’s coach in the period mentioned, did not gain his nickname of the Emperor for nothing. In this context, the voice of the authority figure is more important than the authority of the law itself. Players follow the rule imposed by a personal entity, and not by an impersonal club. This authority from the bench needed its match on the field, and Hagi played this role[8].

Kuper’s and Szymanski’s analysis needs adjusting from another perspective as well, still connected with culture. While it is true that the ascension of the team coincides with the transfers of renowned foreign players, the Romanians Gheorghe Hagi and Gheorghe Popescu and the Brazilian goalie Cláudio Taffarel, we should emphasize that none of them were brought up in Western cultures. It is not a Westerner star who is perceived as “the best foreign player ever to play in Turkey,” but a man from the East, brought up in a similar paternalist culture and scarred, perhaps, with the same doubts and desires to be considered a citizen of equal worth by the economically stronger people of the West. The Turks’ and Hagi’s common Balkan culture allowed for a rapid assimilation of the player in the team. The perfect fit that seemed evident from the first games at Galatasaray is in striking contrast with the period he spent at Barcelona. Explanations can be found perhaps in many aspects of the game, but I think one the most important is the cultural aspect. Hagi grew up in Romania, an Eastern European country in which submission to authority felt natural. While the public communist discourse always emphasized equality, the every day reality accustomed Romanians to bow to those perceived to be in power. In Hagi’s case, his power came from sheer talent. From his youth, Hagi was used to play on a team that depended on his genius. Accustomed to play as the leader on the field, to have the freedom that such a leader usually has, Hagi had difficulties once he was transferred in the West. While his talent always showed up, in a strictly organized structure Hagi was no longer Hagi. One only needs to compare the period Hagi spent at Barcelona with the one at Galatasaray. At the Catalan team, Hagi was one of the many fuoriclasse. At Galatasaray, he was the fuoriclasse. Hagi’s soul needed such a team, where the philosophy of the game was constructed around his name and his genius. In a 2011 interview for the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, Hagi said, “I was always preoccupied to do everything in my power to be the best, to be important in the group” (Tudorache, 2011). At Galatasaray, he was transferred as the most important player, and Hagi kept doing everything in his power to prove and maintain his status.

Galatarasay’s players themselves needed a Hagi. Formed primarily of young, talented Turkish players, Galatasaray needed a mentor on the field. Turkish culture accepts authority as well as the Romanian one. Furthermore, it also needs heroes, legendary figures. Hagi came for the team and the fans at the right moment. He contributed to a European adventure that many saw, as Cem Emrence puts it, “the ultimate arena to voice the aspirations of upper classes to be part of Europe (a Union) as the team was expected to prove to Europeans on the pitch that the ‘Turks’ should be accepted as equals and even a ‘key’ member in the European family (Kozanoǧlu 119–22; Stokes 11)” (Emrence, 2007: 631).


A Complex of Second-Class Citizens

I have already mentioned that it is remarkable that the hero of Turkish soccer is not a Westerner, but an Easterner. Perhaps the connection between Hagi and Galatasaray is explained by an odd common history and a common way of understanding authority. Romanians and Turks shared a common complex of inferiority in the 90s—they did not feel they existed for the West. In his The Ball Is Round: A Global History of soccer, David Goldblatt comments, “The familiar Turkish lament that ‘we do not exist beyond Edirne’—the most westerly city in the country—applied to football too. Progress in European competition provided the most cherished measure of success, but the encounter was always shot through with a paranoid insecurity” (David Goldblatt, 2008: 759). Romanians had a similar attitude after the fall of communism in 1989. Acknowledging a radical difference between the economical situations of their own country and the West, Romanians had the same desire to prove that there is nothing inferior about their culture. At times, this desire gave birth to an ambition that wanted to surpass the others in quality. Gheorghe Hagi was raised with such a mentality. Hagi was a genius with collectivist attitudes. Playing for six years in the West (between Steaua Bucharest, his last Romanian team, and Galatasaray, he played for Real Madrid, Brescia, and F.C Barcelona, two years each), Hagi was well respected wherever he went. However, he never proved his superiority. Perhaps his individual awareness of his own genius never nourished the “paranoid insecurity,” as Goldblatt calls is, but his national ethos always did. Perceiving themselves as abandoned by the Western societies after World War II, often perceived by the West as the “incapable communists,” Romanians engaged in a popular discourse that emphasized the superiority in power manifested by Western teams, both off and on the pitch. Brought up in such culture, Hagi found another point of connection with Turkish football.

Much of the complex of inferiority that the East has when faced with the West may be explained by the economic situation of the two sides of Europe. The success of a team in a European competition could prove that the Turks can compete as a nation at a table where they had not been fully received. With the exception of North America, where the main sports are still baseball and American football, football gained supremacy everywhere, becoming the national game. Nowadays, football is the sport that stirs up national feelings. In the words of John Foster, “Football, more than any other sport, assumes this special status as the national game. And since it’s the national game it’s a matter of national identity” (Foster, 2010: 254). It is no surprise, then, that through the experience of Galatasaray in the European competition Turks saw the success of their own nation—and Romanians joined them in this feeling.

Such a victory may seem insignificant for some. After all, we talk about a sport, not about an economical, cultural, or scientific achievement. But whoever understands (better said, “loves”) football will be quick to tell you that “football is more than just football.” Perhaps it is a cliché, but it is certainly true in connection with Galatasaray’s victory in the 2000 UEFA Cup. Football is not just a game in which 22 players run after a ball according to minimal rules. Football can be a story of redemption; can be a story of historical wins or losses; can be a story of passions brought to the status of laws. Perhaps more than anything else, football can be a story of historical reconciliation. During the 1999-2000 season, football was each one of these things for the Turks. First, it was the occasion to show the West that the Turks can compete at the same level with them. For cultures that have not known historical humiliations, these feelings may be foreign, but they are very familiar to people who, at one time or another in their history, were considered too different (perhaps inferior) for being accepted with the others. The long and controversial discussions about the acceptance of Turkey in the European Union are well known. The “Question of Turkey,” as it is named even in European barometers, has been bound to produce cultural attitudes that go beyond the strict requirements that an institution may have when it accepts new members. For the nation that is “verified,” the usual resentments are connected with a complex of inferiority. As for the population in the Union, the general attitude goes against the acceptance of Turkey. But the numbers are interesting. In a Eurobarometer published in 2006 by the European Commission, just prior to the acceptance of Romania in the UE, 61% of the European Union citizens agreed that the cultural difference between Turkey and the EU Member States are too significant to allow it to join the EU. In comparison, only 32% of Romanians responded positively to the same question. The difference between Romania and the next country on the list, Spain, with 46% is significant (European Commission, Eurobarometer, september 2007).

The eurobarometer may not fully explain the attitudes that Romanians have regarding the Turks. The Romanians’ different response may be connected with their geographical proximity and the common Balkan culture. However, Bulgaria, more Balkan geographically than Romania and in the same political situation regarding the European Union, does not share the same positivity Romanians have for the Turkish culture. Then, if we look at history, the results of the survey are even more surprising. Romanians and Turks have centuries of fighting against each other. It was only in 1877 that Romania proclaimed its independence from the Ottoman Empire, and this independence was won after a long war. But the memory of people is a strange thing. The barometer came only 5 years after a stadium full of Turks chanted “I love you, Hagi.” It was also only one year after Romanians followed again very closely what Hagi was doing as the coach of the Turkish team Galatasaray. During the first decade of the 21st century Romanian football had no accomplishments, so Romanians were living vicariously through the Turkish team that was led by a Romanian. The same complex of a nation that was not accepted for a long time in the EU, for different reasons than Turkey, was lived by Romanians as well. Indeed, centuries of history, religion, and culture separate Romania and Turkey.  Football brings them together. A footballer brought joy to both nations at the same time, which gave them a reason to bond. Even more, by winning a European Cup against a Western team, Hagi helped the two nations to overthrow, even if temporary, the complex of Eastern Europeans and Turks as second class citizens of Europe.



The last years have brought many changes in football. Becoming more and more a business, football entered an era where poetry no longer has a place. Success is insured by good business plans and by fully structured teams that diminish the possibility of surprises. The time where players could decide a game by a beautiful pass or shot on goal is rapidly approaching its sunset. Of course, we still have a Leo Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo, but if we consider the weak results they have for their national teams, once they no longer play in their club structure, we see that good organizations always take precedence over individual geniuses. From time to time, however, there is such a connection between a formidable player and one team that overthrows all statistics and that shows that economical numbers, when connected with soccer, with something as alive as soccer is, pale in comparison with culture. I think the Galatasaray phenomenon at the end of the century is such an example that shows that the statement, “in soccer, ‘culture’ doesn’t matter much” is false. Kuper and Szymanski have the opposite opinion, pointing for this still to the experience of Turkey:

Perhaps, as the former French president Giscard d’Estaing said when he drafted the European Union’s failed constitution, Turkey had a “different culture, a different approach, a different way of life,” but it didn’t stop the Turks in soccer. Cultures are not eternal and unalterable. When they have an incentive to change – like the prospect of winning more soccer matches, or perhaps the prospect of getting richer – they can change (Kuper and Szymanski, 2009: 299).

But the strong success of Turkish teams at the beginning of the 21st century stopped and not developed, as Kuper and Szymanski believed. I think this shows that success is much more connected with culture than we may be inclined to believe. The Galatasaray experience proves so. The Turks won precisely because they remained who they were and they embraced fully their way of being. They won because they did not adopt a completely western approach of playing soccer, but rather a Balkan way, in which a sultan yells, screams, has perhaps unorthodox gestures on the field, but leads them to victory[9]. Mircea Lucescu, who was to be Hagi’s coach in his last year, after the UEFA Cup win, said these words:

I then realized what Hagi meant for Turkish football. He provoked many ambitions. The four titles he won prior to my coming and then the fifth with me are, I think, mostly due to his presence in that team. He was catalyzing; he was charismatic, he was hungry for success. Of course, he was the same player in the national team, the player who was taking the others after him, who never accepted things half-done, who, even beyond the presence of the coach, did not allow the players to do things that were detrimental to performance. The fact that he was named the King of football and Sultan in Turkey is the supreme argument of his value. This name came from the heart of the people, from their passion for football, and from the extraordinary respect they had toward a man who was never shamed on the football pitch (Lucescu, apud Hagi, vol.2, Cluburile, DVD, 2009).

It is such a player, a charismatic character, that a football which had not reached the levels of organization of the West needed. Football is “the beautiful game” also because is accepts different philosophies. Some of them, even if they are considered marginal, can triumph at moments when they assume their identity and when they found players in which this identity can be incarnated. This suggests that it is not only one type of culture that can be successful, but rather a culture that assumes its own identity while being open to communication with others.



EMRENCE, Cem, 2007, “Playing with Global City: The Rise and Fall of a Turkish Soccer Team”, The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 40.4: 630-42.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION, 2007, Standard Eurobarometer 66, European Commission Public Opinion,  http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb66/eb66_en.htm

FOSTER, John, 2010, “Tell Me How You Play and I’ll Tell You Who You Are”, in RICHARDS, Ted (ed.), Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game, Chicago: Open Court, 253-264.

GHEORGHE HAGI FOUNDATION, 2009, Hagi, Vol. 2. Cluburile, DVD.

GOLDBLATT, David, 2008, The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer. New York: Riverhead Books.

KUPER, Simon, SZYMANSKI, Stefan, 2009, Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey – and Even Iraq – Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport. New York: Naion Groups.

TUDORACHE, Viorel, 2011, “Gazeta l-a vizitat pe Hagi. Ce spune Regele despre Academie si care crede ca a fost eroarea lui Sandu.” Gazeta Sporturilor, December 4.

VIALLI, Gianluca, MARCOTTI, Gabriele, 2006, The Italian Job: A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures. London: Bantam Books.

WILSON, Jonathan, 2006, Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football. London: Orion Books.


[1] Hagi started his senior career in 1982, for Farul Constanta, in Romania. He played for six other teams, Sportul Studentesc, Steaua Bucharest, Real Madrid, Brescia, Barcelona, and Galatasaray.

[2] In the Ottoman army, the janissaries were the elite corps of the sultan.

[3] Kuper and Szymanski show that the economical status of a country plays an important role in success in football. Considering South Africa, they observe that the majority of the players representing this country in the 2010 World Cup “were born in nonwhite townships in the 1980s. And so the ghost of apartheid will bug the Bafana at the World Cup. One reason South African are so bad at soccer is that most of them didn’t get enough good food” (266).

[4] The success of F.C. Barcelona, at the club level, and Spain, at the national teams level, is based, I believe, on education and on the implementation of a system of values from early youth. The skeleton of both teams is formed by players who grew together in the famous La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy, and who were formed in a style of play that is used both by the club and the national team.

[5] The same Gheorghe Hagi communicated that he decided to reject any coaching offer from any team that come during the season. He explained this decision by pointing out that he wanted to feel fully responsible for the team and to work with the material (and the team) that he constructed. Since a coach organizes a team according to his philosophy, it is difficult for another one to implement his own philosophy on a body already formed according to other principles.

[6] Hagi had to quit after a few months, not being able to redress the sinking boat of Galatasaray.

[7] In an interview offered to a class I taught at Bradley University, Gica Popescu, famous Romanian defender who was captain of F.C. Barcelona before he transferred to Galatasaray to win UEFA Cup, emphasized the professionalism with which Western football clubs treated new players. The clubs hired tutors and took care of players’lives in the smallest details so that they could focus only on football.

[8] When asked who were his favorite coaches, the same Gica Popescu said in the class I mentioned above: “First place, Cruyff, second place, Cruyff, third place, Cruyf.” Asked to explain his coach, Gica Popescu said, and I paraphrase: Johan Cruyff could enter into the changing room, holding a piece of blank paper. If he told us it was a black piece of paper, we would have looked twice at it, this is how much we trusted him and this is the authority he had over us.

[9] Hagi was red carded several times in Turkey for yelling at a referee. Such behavior would be completely unaccepted by a Western club, with much more radical rules about behavior.

Values and Their Communication in the Advertising Discourse. FMCG’s

University of Bucharest


The advertising discourses on various categories of products – in this paper, FMCG’s (carbonated drinks, coffee specialties, chocolate bars) – use universal and operational values to appeal to the consumers. The actualisation in the advertising discourse of these values, present in the cultural and social broad context of the target audience of a certain category, with a high degree of coherence along the discourse, can stimulate a series of its effectiveness indicators (credibility, acceptability, memorability, intent of purchase and brand preference). This research focused on advertising discourses used between June 2013 and June 2015 by nine brands evolving in three commercial categories and on a target audience defined by age (18 to 35 years old) and localisation (urban, Romania). The results show that the cultural source of the meanings present in the advertising discourse can be determined a priori, before starting the creative work. The signification decanted from the cultural context of the consumer can be defined as the raw material that has to be used in the advertising discourse in order to positively influence its effectiveness indicators.

Keywords: advertising discourse, values, isotopy, advertising campaigns



The fundamental changes of the last few years (from the technological development to the economical crisis) have also determined a migration of the consumer from “the happiness that can be bought” (Brune, 2003) to a more rational consumption, based on new standards: loyalty towards the community, responsibility towards the environment and towards the future, etc. This shift in the individual priorities triggered and continues to produce changes in the advertising discourse at all its levels: from TV commercials to packaging, from digital campaigns to promotional events and concerts.

Both on a global scale and in very specific, local markets (as the Romanian one), the corporations selling goods and services begin to understand the symbolic consumption of their audiences and the fact that the advertising discourse evolves from the unidirectional way of telling the brand story to a dynamic and interactive way of sharing the story with and by the consumers. The amount of companies and brands adapting to this trend grows daily and just as well the number of researches focusing on the conversation carried with the consumer through various  means made available by the modern technology. The adaptation to the consumer and his characteristics becomes the important issue in this research area.

And this adaptation has to consider the cultural codes. The consumers are, thanks to the accelerated democratisation of the access to information, more and more sophisticated (in the most pragmatic use of the term), critical and even reluctant towards advertising, expecting and often demanding coherence and transparency from the creators of the advertising discourse (advertising agencies, brands and companies). On the other hand, the need for local relevancy[1] and the availability of information to consumers are determinant factors confirming the aforementioned evolution trend. The potential buyers of the thousands of products and services flooding the shelves and the windows, the billboards and the ubiquitous ads are consuming daily a discourse that is trying to be locally relevant even if the brands are international.

I examine in this article the coherence of the advertising discourse. And I understand the manifestation of coherence not only within the discourse, but mostly in relation to the cultural and social context in which the discourse is produced and received. I analyse two dimensions of coherence:

– internal coherence, emphasising the way in which expressive meaning-producing materials from different systems work together in order to produce a poly-isotopic discourse, and

– external coherence, showing the way in which the material present in the advertising discourse in its whole is coherent with the cultural values of the target consumers.

The research objective is to understand the relationship between the two types of coherence and the efficiency indicators of the advertising discourse.


Theoretical framework and method

The specifics of the research matter required theoretical support from various fields, out of which the most important are semiotics, axiology, cultural studies and sociology.

Reality is built through representations and interpretations in the mind of the consumer, and the consumption of the cultural signification of goods and services seems to be more important than of the goods itself, which do not carry intrinsic meaning – this is added by the individual and is socially shared (Kettemann, 2013). The advertising captures old and new meanings, invests them in goods and services and then carries them to the consumer, in a continuous process of experimentation in which significations are suggested, revised, combined and rearranged. It is this advertising that unfolds for the modern culture a space of play, experiment and innovation in which new cultural meanings are formed and old ones are reorganised and redesigned (McCracken, 1987: 122). These meanings are introduced in the advertising discourse by its creators: marketing departments within the client companies and their ad agencies. Assessing the greimasian premise according to which the value is actualised and identified with the object of the evaluation through a figurative discourse (as that of advertising), in which meaning and value are not necessarily the same and the structure of the system is responsible for the individual construction of values (Rossolatos, 2013), I reviewed some of the typologies of values that create the cultural context of the consumers. I evaluated Tudor Vianu’s vision on the irreducibility, independence and irrationality of the values, (Vianu, 1988) and the polar relationship that he introduced in the organisation of values. Holbrook (1999), Heli Aaltonen (2010), Greimas și Fontanille (1997), Hébert (2001), Hofstede (2011) or Marieke de Mooij (2014) have also proposed various classifications of values that all point in the end to the fact that the power of establishing and actualising a value belongs to the consumer. Nevertheless, the consumer imports his mental instruments from an axiological frame, the one of the culture and society to which he belongs..

According to Holbrook (1999: 5), value is a preference relative to an interactive experience referring to the evaluation of an object (product) by a subject (consumer). This value is comparative, as the subject is able to evaluate it in relation with another object. More than that, it can be intrinsic and / or extrinsic. An extrinsic value appears in a means-end equation, in which the consumption is functional, utilitarian and instrumental, oriented towards reaching an end or a future set objective. The intrinsic value is owned by the object and its consumption is itself the purpose of the subject (Holbrook, 1999: 10). Holbrook’s taxonomy (reproduced in table 1) locates the concept of value in direct relation with the way in which the consumer-subject perceives and actualises the product-object.

The culture, a complex set of information and knowledge, structures the values and beliefs of man about desired purposes and objectives transcending specific situations – in this way, it helps the individual to make choices about his behaviours (Solomon, Bamossy, Askegaard & Hogg, 2013: 209). These values work on different levels of generalisation and abstractness, they are however adapted independently by each individual to specific situations and moments.


Table 1. The typology of consumer values
(adaptation after Holbrook, 1999: 12)

Consumer Extrinsic value Intrinsic value
Introvert Active Efficiency (Convenience) Play (Entertainment)
Reactive Excellence (Quality) Aesthetics (Beauty)
Extrovert Active Status (Success, impression, boss) Ethics (Virtue, justice, morals)
Reactive Esteem / respect (Reputation, materialism, posession) Spiritual (Belief, mystical ecstasy, sacredness, magic)


The universal good, the peace or the family, for example, are conventionally accepted by most of the people as guides for the personal and social life and have a tendency of maintaining validity along generations. Other values, present in the specific culture of a certain generation or within a national culture or a sub-culture, are stored and act on the individual in the frames of custom, habit, stereotype or of utilitarian information.


Considering the various typologies and classifications of values (Grünberg; Holbrook; Aaltonen; Rossolatos), I proposed a basic taxonomy of the values that populate the cultural space of an audience:

– universal values, with a higher degree of generality and abstraction (honour, security, family, happiness, God),

– operational values, with a smaller degree of abstraction and with informative, descriptive, utilitarian properties, applicable on specific social situations and actions like consumption (convenience, preparation ease or speed, etc.) or on products and product categories (cooling, energizing, durable, etc.).

For stating the main hypothesis I used the following premises: a) the cultural context of the audience of a product category is populated with a set of operational values (information about the product category, functional and of current use, shared by most of the members of that audience; for example: carbonated drinks appease thirst) and with a set of universal values (that go beyond the limits of that category, abstract: good / bad, family, friendship, etc.); b) the meanings carried by the advertising discourses of the brands in that category are already deposited in the cultural context of the audience (as described above) and the discourses activate those meanings; c) the associations between the meanings and not the meanings in isolation are those that influence the consumption behaviour (Zaltman, 2007: 215-218).

Based on these, I formulated the main research hypothesis as follows: the more a brand values and actualises in its advertising discourse operational and / or universal values from the cultural context of the category (external coherence), in an articulated way (internal coherence), the more it will stimulate the credibility, the acceptability, the memorability, the intent of purchase and the brand preference in its audience.

In order to prove it, I asked the following research questions:

1 – is the internal coherence property present in discourses making the corpus?

2 – which is the level of external coherence of the discourses from the corpus (are the operational values of the product category or the universal values from the cultural context of the audience present in the discourses)?

3 – to which extent does the external coherence influence the efficiency indicators (credibility, acceptability, memorability, intent of purchase and brand preference)?

4 – to which extent can the universal values influence the efficiency indicators (is there any correlation between the actualization of the universal values and the impact of the advertising discourse)?


The research unfolded in several stages:

In a preliminary stage I evaluated the internal coherence of a series of advertising discourses in order to qualify them in the research corpus.

In the first stage I performed a secondary research on indirect sources, analysing social documents and public sources of information (internet, TV shows, other media, etc.) to collect information about the operational values of the target audience related to the product categories included in the research corpus. Using secondary sources (for example: the Research Report of the Centre for Urban and Regional Sociology – CURS on the Youth of Romania), I also collected information on the universal values populating the cultural and social context of the above mentioned audience. For each product category, I coded and organised the relevant values in a themed grid.

In the second stage I used direct sources (focus group) to accurately determine the operational, descriptive and defining values at work in the cultural space of the audience related to the product categories in the corpus.

In the third stage I made a thorough analysis of the corpus, meant to determine the level of external coherence. This analysis evaluated the presence and the weight in the discourses of the variables revealed in the previous stages. I re-appreciated the internal coherence and I assessed the external coherence in relation with the variables selected in the themed grid, relevant for the audience (as proved by the previous stages). I built a scale with scores from 0 (no values present in the discourse) to 6 (more than 3 values present in the discourse, 3 being set as the absolute number of category values to relate to) which ranked the presence of the values and showed various degrees of external coherence (table 2).

Table 2. Ranking of the presence of the operational values.

Score Qualifying
1 Only one operational value from the category context appears in the advertising discourse in one material;
2 Only one operational value from the category context appears in the advertising discourse in at least two materials;
3 Two operational values from the category context appear in the advertising discourse in one material;
4 Two operational values from the category context appear in the advertising discourse in at least two materials;
5 More than three operational values from the category context appear in the advertising discourse, in one material;
6 More than three operational values from the category context appear in the advertising discourse, in at least two materials;
7 All the operational values from the category context appear in the advertising discourse.


In the fourth stage, in order to reveal the correlations between the coherence and the effectiveness of the advertising discourse, I used the self administered e-questionnaire (on the online platform Survey Monkey) and the SPSS software (the Cronbach a factor, the principal component analysis and the Pearson correlations). I related the collected data to each of the five effectiveness indicators in focus, thus confirming the distinctive operational and universal values for the selected corpus.

In a final stage I interpreted the results holistically, relating them to theoretical literature and  earlier researches.


Knowing that various limitations are set by, for example, the retention of the advertising messages from previous campaigns, the intensity of the communication (reach and frequency) or the influence of the price on the purchase decision, I included in the corpus a series of discourses produced by brands with similar awareness in the target and similar positions on the Romanian market (in terms of distribution, selling prices range, advertising investments). I narrowed the research area to FMCG’s and focused on the coffee specialties segment (3in1 mixes), the carbonated drinks category and the chocolate bars segment from the sweets & snacks category,  selecting three advertising discourses for each of these three categories.

The research period covered two years, in between June 2013 and June 2015. The amount of research units qualified after the preliminary stage reached 52 pieces of packaging, 18 print ads, 25 TV commercials and nine digital campaigns (nine brand websites, nine pages on the social-media platform Facebook out of which I selected a total of 90 posts, eight channels on the video-content platform YouTube out of which I selected 21 audio-video executions used in the digital campaign, six graphical animations used in the online media and one app developed for mobile devices.

The audience was defined by age (18-35 years old) and location (urban areas in Romania). This segment in the audience account for 4.47 million people, according to INSSE[2]. The reasons for this choice are the following:

– the 18-35 y.o. age interval is the point-of access in many product categories (young people start to consume, to make choices, to express their intent of purchase and their preferences), a large amount of brands targeting them in their discourses;

– the incomes and the social context, on the other hand, allow individuals to become buyers and not only consumers;

– the 18-35 y.o. are consumers of media and advertising; most of them are digital natives, which means they have access to and they actually use new media and the new media vehicles.


Collected data

After evaluating quite a vast universe of advertising materials, and applying the selection criteria set in the research design, I narrowed the corpus to nine discourses that were each transmitting at least one coherent message. Decomposing the component materials on the expression-content axis and evaluating the relation between the signifieds and the signifiers as well as the way in which visual and textual elements work together to construct meaning, I found that the nine discourses transmit coherently the following messages:

– in the coffee specialties segment:

  1. a) the Nescafé 3in1 brand is coagulated around the message “live at the present tense”;
  2. b) Jacobs 3in1 proposes a discourse centred on relaxation as it “hires relaxation passionates”;
  3. c) LaFesta 3in1 concentrates on the message: “open your mind”;

– in the carbonated drinks category:

  1. a) one of the discourses produced by Coca-Cola is built around the message “let’s eat together”;
  2. b) Pepsi conveys systematically the benefit of the product surplus by communicating intensively the message “on the +”;
  3. c) Tymbark Fizzy appropriates an alliteration: “the apple in the bubble or the bubble in the apple”;

– in the chocolate bars sub-segment:

  1. a) the Lion brand revolves around the slogan “awakes the lion in you”;
  2. b) one of the discourses used by ROM is built around the quality of being a Romanian product and conveys the message “revenge is sweet”;
  3. c) Snickers stays on the old communication platform centred around the message “you’re not you yourself when you’re hungry” reinterpreted as “do you become a Gremlin when you’re hungry?”.

The operational values I discussed in the literature section are relative: the consumer defines them comparatively, showing his or her preference for a brand or another in the same category. To the same degree, they are personal and they vary between individuals, each actualising a value according to an entire arsenal of knowledge, information and emotions accumulated from previous experiences related to the category or the brand. Just as well, values are situational, depending on the context of the consumer. Based on these premises, I analysed the meanings circulated in the context of the analysed categories and I determined a set of potential values, actualised in some themes and sub-themes in the cultural and social space of the audience, representing the fundamental concepts of truth, goodness and beauty and the theoretical, aesthetical, moral and even economical classes. A second field of research was the media space used by the target, where advertising circulates and the brand – consumer interactions occur.

Amongst the findings: Romanian young people value the family, the socialising and the travel, but are quite uncertain about personal health. For them, the coffee specialties segment is defined by a set of positive operational values: the credibility, actualised by themes as the origin of the coffee or the verisimilitude of the narrative; the natural and the naturality, actualised especially by showing the coffee beans; the taste and flavour, actualised by the theme of the pleasure produced by the consumption itself; the versatility (having more uses or functions), actualised by placing coffee in the liberal, unrestrained consumption area – anytime, anywhere and anyhow, coffee is the ingredient to be used in any circumstance; the individualism, actualised almost as hedonism, as a pleasure experienced individually; the ritual, actualised as a purpose in itself, implying friends or family and using the visual exponent of the coffee cup (red for Nescafé, green for Jacobs); the socializing, actualised through the theme of the social binder; the exchange currency, actualised in the family area, as a reward for mothers and wives, offered by husbands or self-administered,; the convenience and the efficiency, actualised through the theme of the rapid preparation, with no considerable efforts and no substantial knowledge about coffee; the modernity, actualised by emphasising the difference between the traditional way of preparing the coffee and the one influenced by the hurry and speed of the present days; the energy and the energizing effect, actualised by showing coffee producing or triggering the necessary energies for the good starting of the work or school day, or by showing coffee as the recharge agent.

Some other operational values have a negative potential: the chemical recipe is a sensitive matter, while snobbism, actualised in the selling price, is used by some consumers as a preference scale. The coffee overdose is a major health risk so it can cast a shadow on the positive value of versatility.

The operational values defining the carbonated drinks category are actualised mostly in positive themes and sub-themes: credibility, actualised in the care for the health; the social class and the belonging group, rarely actualised by introducing inspirational accessory objects or destinations; the socializing, the social binder, the value that practically defines the category, the group of friends and the common activities being easily associated with carbonated drinks; the entertainment, actualised in direct relation with the socialising and, sometimes, with the ritual, the drink becoming the catalyst of the going-out; the cooling, another category defining value, especially during the hot season; the hydration, which is not valued per se but translated into thirst and artificially assimilated with cooling; the versatility, actualised as the availability in any social context of a large variety of carbonated drinks in the adequate dimensions (volume), which creates a direct connection with the convenience and the efficiency; the energising and the energy, actualised as means that the consumer gets from the drinks in order to be able to entertain more and to discover new ways of having fun.

The family binder and the family gathering ritual are less used, family remaining an universal value. The acquisition value, less communicated as well, tends to be actualised in the area of the belonging group and of the social class. With negative potential, the addiction and the abuse are actualised in the category through themes connected to the recipe, to sugar, to sweeteners and to their adverse effects. Credibility may, at some point, work the other way around: the fact that they have some many consumers may make big brands look credible, but, in the same time makes them the target of suspicions (secret chemical substances used to create addiction, subversive advertising, etc.).

In the chocolate bars segment, communication is defined by a set of potentially positive values: the credibility, the value of truth, is reflected by the composition of the products and the natural ingredients; the pleasure and the pampering of the senses, actualised sometimes in hedonic expressions, seem to be the main values of the category and are most of the times associated with the individualism, with the self-administered reward; the versatility, as convenience and efficiency, is actualised in the multitude of social contexts where consumption occurs and in the availability in shapes and sizes easy to buy, transport, handle and consume; the individualism, a defining value for the category, is actualised in the product itself, which is designed to be consumed by a single person; the exchange currency, actualised as a proof of conjugal or filial love in the same time with the ritual, be it in couple or individual, but with a final purpose, happiness. The energy and the energizing are rather implied than actualised and the same applies to naturality, but most of the category talks about caramel, peanuts or chocolate (amongst others) which are, presumably, natural. The maturity is valued in the opposition between adult bars, bringing relaxation to very busy people, and the sweets designed for kids. This opposition is yet weaker than the gender opposition: bars are for men, while women take pleasure in the chocolate tablets. The belonging to a group, less used, becomes a communication territory for the local brands.

The benefices of chocolate create glow that is reflected on the chocolate bars, reducing the impact of potentially negative values. The sugar overdose is yet a recurrent theme in the public discourse and may turn suddenly towards the chocolate bars.


The research revealed a set of values having the potential of being successfully actualised in the advertising discourses of the brands in these categories. The focus-groups followed and had the objective, on the one hand, to confirm the existence of the mentioned values in the cultural baggage of the target audience and, on the other hand, to focus the deployment of next stages on the most important values.

Thus, for the coffee specialties I identified six operational values that can be used as specific themes and sub-themes: natural, taste and flavour, pleasure, energising agent, socialising agent, versatility. For the carbonated drinks and the chocolate bars I found five operational values: hydration, cooling, entertainment, versatility, pleasure, and, respectively: pleasure, appetising, energy, individualism, happiness. Each of the operational values needs to be analysed in connection with the themes and sub-themes described by the participants to the focus-groups, as the definition for each is particular for each category. For example, the pleasure in the coffee category is defined as relaxation or delight, while in the carbonated drinks it becomes a feeling of goodness and happiness and for the chocolate bars it gravitates in a sensorial area: a diversity of tastes, all good, sweetness „melting in your mouth”.

The participants to the focus-groups broadly confirmed the existence of the values discovered by the secondary research and, as well, confirmed the deliberate ignoring of the potentially negative value actualisations in all the three categories. Health and presumed risks of sugar overdose or of consumption of sweeteners do not seem to be an interestingly enough theme to produce notable effects on the target audience. That is why I eliminated this value from the following stages. From the operational values defining coffee I excluded, as well, the exchange currency and the individualism, emphasised by the participants as not important.


I then evaluated the discourses in their entirety, considering that in the cultural and social context of the audience, they are working as a whole to produce a unitary message (the packaging is working together with the TV commercial just as well as the digital materials work together with the printed materials, their interconnection being determined by the fluid modes of use of the media and of the promotional vehicles). Taking into account the rapid flow of information, the use of the mobile smartphone as an interface for the collection of information and the social media mechanics, its functions that complement the use of the TV and of the computer in a digitalised structure of information and advertising, I considered that an analysis concentrated on a TV commercial or on a poster would be limitative.

The analysis of the corpus revealed that each of the nine discourses includes a set of universal values, used at a higher level of abstraction, and a set of operational values, characteristic for the category and the target audience segment, at different degrees and with different expressions (table 3). For the coffee specialities, the variation between brands is substantial, with a fluctuation in the total score from 10 to 1. For the chocolate bars, the total score is more concentrated, the three brands cumulating from 6 to 10 points. For the carbonated drinks, the international brands cumulated similar scores (9 and 10), while the regional Tymbark Fizzy only scored 3 points, with no universal value attached.

Table 3. Scaled scores of the universal and operational values

Category Brand Universal values

(from 1 to 4)

Operational values (from 1 to 7) Total score
Coffee specialties Nescafé 3in1 3 6 9
Jacobs 3in1 2 5 7
La Festa 3in1 0 1 1
Carbonated drinks Coca-Cola 4 6 10
Pepsi Cola 3 6 9
Tymbark Fizzy 0 2 2
Chocolate bars Lion 4 5 9
ROM 2 7 9
Snickers 1 6 7


The regional Tymbark, present in two of the three analysed categories (with La Festa 3in1 in coffee specialties and Tymbark Fizzy in the carbonated drink) did not use any universal values in its discourses. The global brands (Nescafé 3in1, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Lion) cumulate the highest scores of their categories using the highest number of universal and operational values, each on more materials included in their discourses (from packaging to TV commercials).

The analysis confirmed that operational values are used more in the communication, thus meeting the need of identification and delimitation of a symbolic territory of evolution for each brand. If this finding was forecasted, the one regarding the scarce use of the universal values was not. For example, none of the analysed packagings used representations of any universal values, while the messages disseminated in the digital campaigns seem to especially eliminate this type of values. Another unexpected result appeared in the Snickers bar case: its global discourse, adapted for five vehicles, only uses one universal value, actualised as friendship, and only in the TV commercial.


In the next stage, assessing the answers received for the questionnaires, I concluded that each brand appropriates a communication territory defined by a series of statements describing themes and sub-themes that actualise the operational values identified in the previous stages. The distribution of the statements and the associations with the brands were built using the principal components analysis (PCA); that led to the ranking of the values for each category. The analysis of the deviations from the expected scores indicated a hierarchy of operational values in each category.

Thus, for the coffee specialties, the strongest association comes with the value of versatility, with scores of 1,00 and 0,89, followed by taste and flavour with 0,88, pleasure with 0,75 and 0,55, natural with 0,71 and socializing, with scores in between 0,58 and 0,37. The energising (an intrinsic value of the category due to the caffeine and sugar in the composition) is the value with the weakest association, reaching only 0,14.

For the carbonated drinks, the operational value of pleasure has the strongest association when the theme and the sub-theme of actualisation detail a reference to the taste: “I like it because it is sweet”, for example, scores 0,73. Versatility is either strongly associated (0,90 and 0,52) or weakly (0,48 and 0,21), depending on the theme and sub-theme of the statement. Entertainment and cooling receive good scores and, contrary to the expectations, socialising receives scores (in between 0,68 and 0,63) placing it on the median of the string of values, even though it is present in all the discourses and seemed to be a defining value of the category.

The strongest association for chocolate bars is individualism (between 1,00 and 0,32), followed by energy (0,84 to 0,37), pleasure (0,78), appetising (0,40) and happiness (0,36). Depending on the theme and sub-theme of the statement, there are weak associations too, with scores under the median of the string (0,32). Unlike the coffee specialties (where caffeine should have brought a strong association with energising), in this category, the combination of cacao and sugar seems to trigger a strong association for the energy (0,84).

I mapped the associations for each brand in graphics using two reference axis: Ox – the importance of the operational values (up: important; down: less important) and Oy – the association of the brand with the values (left: weak; right: strong). The overlay of these graphics on the analysis from the previous stage helped me understand and interpret the relation between the advertising use of the operational values and the way the audience understands those values. For this purpose, I also included in the questionnaires brands that have not communicated or have communicated less in the analysed period (like Amigo, Kit Kat, Albeni, Schweppes Tonic or Fanta Madness), but were mentioned in the focus groups.

These results show that the operational values of versatility (expressed under the theme “easy preparation anywhere”), taste and flavour (expressed under the theme “the bitter taste of coffee”) and natural (expressed under the theme “made of natural coffee”), even though strongly associated with the category, are not appropriated by neither of the brands that communicated actively in the research period. These values are associated by the respondents with a brand that is considered traditional, Amigo. This brand did not communicate in the past five years; its most recent advertising campaign was launched in June 2015, at the end of the research period. This could be explained by the fact that Amigo lacks specific operational values (as it did not communicate) and profits from those of the category.

The territories claimed by the three brands in focus are overlaid. Yet, LaFesta 3in1 takes over the area of „it is for everyone” (versatility) while Jacobs 3in1 conquers the space of „the first date” (theme used for the value of socializing). The other themes expressing the pleasure and socialising are associated by the respondents both with Nescafé 3in1 and Jacobs 3in1 (Graphic 1).

Unlike the coffee specialties, the carbonated drinks have better defined territories. The strongest association, with the theme „wanted by kids”, is correlated to Tymbark Fizzy, the same as „it’s sweet”, both themes actualising the value of pleasure. Taking into account the relevancy for the category of these actualisations of the sub-themes with highest scores (1,00 and, respectively, 0,73) we can conclude that, in fact, this brand does not conquer a territory but is intuitively placed by respondents in the category.

The versatility and the socialising characterise Coca-Cola („for every occasion”, „for every meal”), while Pepsi fits with the entertainment („inspires fun”) and cooling („is consumed with ice”). The versatility is associated less by Pepsi through the sub-theme „is consumed during travels”, with a score of 0,32, as opposed to „for every occasion”, scored with 0,52 and attributed exclusively to Coca-Cola. The only value that correlates with both global brands is versatility when expressed through „used at the office”, which is yet weakly correlated with the category (0,21) (Graphic 2).

Graphic 1.

Coffee specialties brands associations with statements describing the values of the category


Graphic 2

Carbonated drinks brands associations with statements describing the values of the category


In the chocolate bars, the brands that did not communicate in the research period are associated by respondents with the category defining values (individualism, through the statement „for anyone”, with a score of 1,00 in the category, is associated, for example, with Albeni). While Lion and Snickers both fight for a territory described by energy („it gives me energy”), individualism and happiness („it makes me feel happy”, „it eliminates stress”), ROM attaches the pleasure („it melts in my mouth”), appetising („it has chocolate”), and happiness („for moments of relaxation”). Snickers associates with the theme „rapid snack for when I’m hungry”, expressing energy, a value strongly correlated with the category and aligned with the brand positioning: „you’re not you yourself when you’re hungry” (Graphic 3).


Grafic 3

Chocolate bars brands associations with statements describing the values of the category



In two of the categories, the global brands create local discourses with better results than the local or regional brands. Nescafé 3in1 and Jacobs 3in1 have better discourses than LaFesta 3in1, and Pepsi communicates better than Timbark Fizzy. The effectiveness of these discourses was built less on the local verisimilitude for the coffees and more on the category defining operational values. The two local brands of the regional company Tymbark Maspex score the worst in their categories, showing that they evolve practically outside the cultural space known to the audience in connection with coffee or carbonated drinks.

On the contrary, a very effective local discourse is proposed by a local company in the chocolate bars segment, for ROM. Lion and Snickers used discourses with no localisation, with no local verisimilitude. And if Snickers succeeds to capitalise on older awareness campaigns that have stabilised the brand in the mind of the consumers, Lion has no historical advantage. The competitor ROM, using mostly local values (even though not defining for the category but in the area of the national pride), succeeds to score better and create a real awareness problem for the two brands with a stronger international background.

The only global discourse with indisputable success belongs to Coca-Cola. Infused with some local adaptations for the digital campaigns, it doesn’t just easily step in the edible paradigm, but it seizes it. Roland Barthes noticed the symbolic power of the brand in the USA in the 50’s and placed it in a position of power similar to the one of the wine in France (Barthes, 2013: 23-30). More than fifty years after, the food habits and the eating rituals get to be easily associated with Coca-Cola even in Romania (presumably all-over the world), as a result of the consistency of successive discourses that have set the brand on a visible position in the dictionary of signs used by the members of every community. The observation of a focus-group participant is expressive for this situation of the brand: “have you lately seen a wedding with no 2.5 litres bottles of Coke on the table?”.

Although, from a financial perspective, the local production of a few TV commercials wouldn’t be a difficulty for a company like Coca-Cola, the results show that the same creative communication strategy, decanted for years and effectively implemented, can and will produce considerable effects on the brand indicators in different markets. Coca-Cola is not linked anymore with the American imperialism, nor with national cuisines – it just transcended those stages.

The localisation of the discourse of its competitor (Pepsi), a tactical alliance of advertising with the playful (Rovența-Frumușani, 2005: 152) “on the +”, is in fact a visible attempt of adaptation of the brand global promise to the wording and culture of its destination local market. The English „pulse” in the original brand claim was used as such and the ”on the +” was added in order to append a local, Romanian, accent to the discourse. Its textual form anchored the images in the TV commercials, shot in locations easily recognizable by the audience. The results are far better than those of Tymbark Fizzy, yet, they do not reach Coca-Cola’s.

All of the nine brands use tenaciously the social media platform, their Facebook pages proving that the brands have come to understand the information sharing protocol and the way it helps the integration into the network of social, material, economical and cultural relations that dynamically influence the life of the individuals (Jenkins, 2014: 14). This use of the digital medium points also to the fact that brands can easily let go the traditional and conventional media: Snickers hasn’t used print ads ever since the beginning of the economical crisis, in 2009. This did not mean redirecting the budgets to mobile apps or other digital new vehicles, but a concentration of communication efforts in the online area (Facebook applications, promotional websites, etc.).

Be it a 100% locally produced discourse, like ROM’s, or a global discourse adapted to the cultural, social and economical realities of the local market, like Coca-Cola’s, the explicit use of signs and meaning connected with the relevant and defining values of the category appears to increase the effectiveness of the advertising discourse. Metonymic method of representing a certain culture (Cmeciu, 2010: 61), the discourse succeeds thus to achieve its goal: persuading the consumer.



Investigating the source of the meanings in the advertising discourse and the way they are translated from a culturally determined representation regime in a signification system, the one of the advertising, the present research advances the thesis that the coherent actualisation in the advertising discourse of the operational and universal values from the larger cultural and social context of audience of the category, is able to stimulate a set of effectiveness indicators (credibility, acceptability, memorability, intent of purchase and brand preference). The results show that the cultural source of the meaning present in the advertising discourse can be determined a priori, before even starting its execution. In other words, the meanings decanted from the cultural and social context of the consumer can be used as raw material that has to be used in the advertising discourse to stimulate its effectiveness.

The operational values that populate the context of a certain category of products (FMCG, automotive, etc.), can be found using the financially effective method of the secondary research of social documents and of the general communication of the category. The results of this research can be verified and confirmed if needed, through conventional qualitative techniques, currently used, as the focus-group or the in-depth interview, or even through more expensive quantitative techniques as the questionnaire.



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[1] Think global, act local, phrase usable in various fields, from architecture to advertising, attributed to the Scottish sociologist Patrick Geddes (1854-1932).

[2] The National Institute for Statistics keeps a public record of the last census here: http://www.recensamantromania.ro/noutati/volumul/; last accessed: 17.07.2015.

L’imaginaire numérique et les formes communicatives

Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III

Communiquer, c’est entrer dans l’orchestre
Gregory Bateson



The technique is one of the sensible characteristics of the relation with the world. In the paradigmatic trajectory, we can detect how the technique is the expression of a mutation in different manners that influence the communication and renovate the individual perception and the way we visualize the world. We must consider the technique as a key to comprehend the essence of the human being; so from a phenomenological and epistemological point of view, this is bound to have a highly significant impact on the way we organize knowledge ontologically and how this relation to the technique and its apparatus is an existential condition, an interface conditioning the way of social communication and relation in the daily life.

Keywords: technology, communication, knowledge, visualization.


Le processus de connaissance se fonde sur une évolution « temporelle » qui lie ensemble culture, société et savoir. À chaque époque correspond un type particulier de pensée, une façon de voir le monde qui trouve ses fondements dans les révolutions scientifiques et dans les changements de paradigme. Ces derniers, en suivant l’approche théorique de Thomas Kuhn, influencent la manière à travers laquelle nous voyons les choses et, par conséquent, l’action de voir le monde à travers autres yeux. Cela signifie qu’après une révolution scientifique, on réagit de manière à pouvoir s’adapter au « nouveau » regard, à la « nouvelle » vision du monde qui émerge. Ce discours est valable naturellement aussi pour le progrès de la technique et de ses instruments qui conditionnent la manière de communiquer et de s’informer. C’est dans cette direction que nous pouvons mettre l’accent sur l’évolution de la technique du point de vue des changements épistémologiques, puisqu’elle favorise et adapte les instruments du voir. La réflexion sur la technique et l’évolution technologique s’élargit aussi aux instruments et appareils de la communication, aux subjectivités « numériques », au contexte historico-social et culturologique. C’est-à-dire, nous ne sommes pas dans un champ historique restreint mais, au contraire, dans une situation de grande ouverture d’horizons de la pensée et de la connaissance liée à des facteurs de changement influençant le vécu qu’il faut apprendre à voir sous multiples points de vue. La technique alors nous aide à structurer le monde au travers des artefacts, instruments, appareils et vision qu’elle produit; et en même temps à travers les effets qu’elle génère sur le comportement, l’existence, le savoir et donc les situations sociales et culturelles issues des formes communicatives. À chaque mutation de la technique s’accompagne une variation de la pensée et des modes de voir le monde, et aussi du tressage des relations et interactions sociales à comprendre comme la conséquence directe de l’adaptation de l’homme à l’atmosphère ambiante de l’époque. Cela représente la base à partir de laquelle il faudra partir pour comprendre et interroger les changements que notre monde actualise en permanence; pour comprendre comment la connaissance se forme et ré-forme dans son effort d’actualisation et ajournement à l’esprit du temps, de quelle manière se développent et évoluent les formes de communication, quelles sont les caractéristiques socio-culturelles qui émergent dans la scène numérique informative et comment nous donnons vision et communiquons notre vécu dans les formes habitatives contemporaines.


Esprit du temps

Dans une optique « climatologique » qui nous est chère, c’est-à-dire d’ajournement ou de mise à jour de la pensée au climat social et culturel dans lequel nous sommes immergés, chaque medium ou appareil change selon une évolution technique qu’il est possible d’interpréter comme un processus de dévoilement du monde, une mise à nu du vécu – il suffit de penser dans cette direction aux effets du cinéma et de la photographie. La perception du vécu, de fait, n’est jamais indépendante d’une certaine structure technique d’instruments mis à disposition nous permettant d’ « agrandir » le réel au quotidien – cela est un des sens symboliques que nous pouvons, par exemple, attribuer à la photographie – dans l’ici et maintenant du vécu. En son temps Martin Heidegger a bien montré comment l’essence de la technique réside dans la modalité de « dévoilement » de la vérité et donc, comment elle n’est pas simplement un moyen. Cette conception est liée à la signification grecque du terme technique, tekhnè, connectée à l’expérience du connaître et du savoir. « Connaître » et « savoir » comme ouverture vers quelque chose, son dévoilement. Or, sur cette base, dans une optique de lecture de l’esprit du temps et repositionnement épistémologique, il est possible constater de quelle manière la technique correspond à un processus de transformation de l’existence et de l’environnement social et culturel. La technique, dans cette direction, construit le Réel, le transforme et le produit aussi. En outre, dans ce processus nous pouvons également mettre en perspective l’idée de McLuhan sur la modification de l’équilibre sensoriel qui influence notre mode d’être et de voir en fonction de l’évolution des instruments de communication et donc de la technique. Nous pouvons pareillement relever des altérations sensorielles en relation aux techniques de vision, aux successions médiologiques et instrumentales. Nous sommes immergés par ce fait dans une situation de mutation socio-technologique. Il suffit de penser à l’invention de l’électricité et comment à partir de l’illumination urbaine s’actionne un vaste processus de transformation de l’environnement, du voir, des relations et du vécu. La lumière artificielle – et cela vaut pour le cinéma et la photographie – constitue un facteur de mutation de l’expérience sensorielle et visuelle et donc du développement de la connaissance puisque les instruments du visible favorisent l’information, la connaissance et un particulier accès au monde, inaugurent donc un nouveau ingressus[1]. D’une manière analogue, Walter Benjamin en décrivant les célèbres Passages parisiens montrait comment l’environnement urbain transformait la sensibilité et les modes de perception par l’effet d’une généralisation du phénomène technique. On pourrait interpréter la conception benjaminienne aussi comme l’effet d’une relation entre la communication et le vécu, ou bien la relation entre le médium de la pensée et le moyen de communication transmissible.

De ce point de vue, il est également possible de mettre en perspective l’idée d’une nouvelle grammaire du social en prenant en considération la transformation des dimensions sensorielles de l’œil et de ses prolongements techno-corporels. Ce changement transforme à la fois l’accès-ingressus au monde et l’expérience du vécu et ses formes communicatives transmissibles. Aujourd’hui, de plus en plus, nous percevons le monde à travers les techniques de communication; et c’est aussi pour cette raison que la technique, à présent, est part intégrante de la conscience. Nous sommes alors positionnés dans une optique de fusion entre tekhnè et bios : comme le montre Moisés de Lemos Martins (2011) la technique est immergée dans la vie de l’homme. Cette observation nous permet de comprendre la manière à travers laquelle la technique ne se réduit pas essentiellement à l’objet ou au simple dispositif utilitaire, mais au contraire elle est génératrice de connaissance, de mutations corporelles, de manière de voir et visualisation. Elle est aussi un art de faire, un mode d’être qui conditionne de l’intérieur notre existence. Il suffit de penser de quelle manière le vaste domaine de l’environnement techno-médiatique s’empare de notre vécu et influence notre modalité de sentir, d’être, ainsi que notre sensibilité et sensorialité. Cinéma, photographie, environnement numérique sont à cet égard paradigmatiques par leur capacité de structurer et conditionner notre imaginaire et notre relation sensorielle avec le monde. Des médias, ou bien on pourrait dire des interfaces, qui s’interposent entre nous et le monde et en véhicule la connaissance et la transmissibilité de ses multiples facettes.

Il faudra ainsi s’interroger ou bien analyser et décrire, cette évolution techno-médiatique pour saisir sa nature, comprendre les modifications qu’elle apporte, les bouleversements atmosphériques de la sphère sociale conditionnée par les objets nomades et l’immédiateté des transmissions de messages et d’émotions, le rapport aux surfaces numériques et l’ « écranisation » de l’existence, les mutations optiques/haptiques dans la fluidité des rapports info-communicationnels. Des exemples, des symptômes plutôt, de notre condition existentielle contemporaine structurant l’imaginaire en œuvre dans la situation numérique du monde actuel, dans cette société « augmentée » qui détermine les formes communicatives et comportementales de l’être.


Les trajets de l’imaginaire techno-numérique 

Dans une optique de « trajet de l’imaginaire », nous pouvons montrer d’un point de vu historique, social et culturel de quelle manière l’évolution de la technique rime avec l’évolution de l’homme. C’est-à-dire, la concrétisation d’un processus d’interaction entre la technique, l’homme et l’environnement ambiant. Chaque succession temporelle techno-médiologique est le reflet d’une manière de voir spécifique, d’une structure du vécu donné et, par conséquent, un apparat de dispositifs particularisant le corps, le savoir et les modalités info-communicationnelles. De ce fait, la relation à la technique et à l’objet dans son trajet anthropologique est une condition existentielle, un conditionnement de notre vie quotidienne, de notre rapport au monde et subséquemment à la connaissance. Les changements de perceptions et de sens, donc les variables des chocs perceptifs, sont un des résultats de ce trajet temporel à partir duquel il est possible d’observer, par exemple, la façon à travers laquelle avec la naissance de la métropole se produit une nouvelle visibilité des choses. En recourant à d’autres exemples, l’on peut noter que le dévoilement technique de la photographie permet une visualisation particulière du quotidien ; le cinéma se forme non seulement comme simple instrument de montrer, mais comme mode singulier de voir, sentir et habiter le monde ; le territoire numérique évolue comme flux visuel d’expérience et langage. En somme, dans la situation post-organique actuelle, l’être humain se fonde avec la technique en définissant un rapport au monde dominé par une irruption massive du numérique technologique dans le réel. C’est le cas ici d’une pénétration techno-symbolique qui modifie les aspects sensoriels dans la pluralité de la vie sociale. Il suffit, à ce titre, de penser à comment le smartphone – véritable télécommande de la vie quotidienne – en tant qu’objet transitionnel (on pourrait même l’envisager comme le « doudou techno-magique » des jeunes générations) d’un vécu techno-communicationnel-ludique formé par des parcours existentiels et des modalités d’habiter le monde dans une optique d’expérience et gestes pluriels, d’identifications multiples, de partage de flux vital. Dans ce sens, l’être humain devient, dans le paradigme ubimédiatique et technologique contemporain, un être-flux. On constate ainsi le passage de la personnalité mono-psychique à celle flux-schizoïde qui décrète la mort du sujet cartésien et la présence hybride de l’homme symbiotique. Un hybridisme que nous pouvons concevoir aussi en fonction de l’expérience visuelle du vécu comme Télé-Présence, Ciné-Présence, Photo-Présence: c’est-à-dire, une visualisation perceptive de l’être ici et maintenant, dans un environnement de réalité renforcée comme produit de plusieurs sphères visuelles. La visualisation, le « monstrer » et le percevoir sont les actions d’une nouvelle instantanéité du vécu à travers des appareils technologiques qui redéfinissent l’apparaître même de l’être humain et notre présence aux choses. Il s’agit, en reprenant ici l’analyse de Stéphane Vial (2013a), d’un sentiment ontophatique instituant des nouvelles modalités de « se sentir » au monde. Cela est bien une condition techno-existentielle basée, en particulier, sur des stratégies de vision technique qui modifient l’expérience en générant des nouvelles formes de présence sociale. D’un point de vu phénoménologique, l’être-là – en tant que dasein, présence – se situe dans une optique de changement de l’acte perceptif et de l’action du « monstrer », conditionné par l’effet techno-numérique. La situation perceptive numérique ne comporte pas seulement un nouvel événement historico-social, mais coïncide surtout avec le dévoilement d’une nouvelle expérience phénoménologique du monde, de la modalité à travers laquelle l’existence est et apparaît. En ce sens, l’être-au-monde est influencé aussi par le pouvoir de technique qui, de son côté, en influence la structure visuelle et perceptive en créant une union hybride où le système technique spécifie nos modes de voir et faire voir. Nous comprenons ainsi que la révolution temporelle de la technique, qui coïncide dans l’optique de la climatologie contemporaine avec l’avènement du numérique, n’est pas seulement une mutation d’objets (les divers dispositifs) mais aussi une mutation de sujets et donc de modes à travers lesquels l’être communique et vit sa quotidienneté. Dans cette visée, le paysage technique appartient strictement à notre vie et en conditionne les développements des formes interactives et d’expérience. Avec l’avènement technologique, nous sommes dans une phase où la technique vit une nouvelle « aura », dans son unicité d’apparition, à travers laquelle le monde s’offre à la perception et, en même temps, il est montré par les visualisations de notre vécu. Cet « avènement » grâce à ces effets techno-symboliques définit une dimension où l’humanité se trouve « augmentée » puisque l’évolution biologique est actualisée par celle de la culture et de la technique.

Avant McLuhan, Arnold Gehlen dans son Die Seele im technischen Zeitalter (1957) – l’humanité à l’ère de la technique – avait illustré de quelle manière la technologie est un prolongement de nos sens, donc une extension de notre corps, ou bien une prothèse. Dans ce sens, on peut penser aux prothèses du smartphone dans nos mains, ou au prolongement sensoriel de la caméra (photo et vidéo) dans la constitution d’un « troisième œil » –  qui renvoie d’une certaine façon au fameux « ciné-œil » de Dziga Vertov dans son The Man With A Movie Camera­ – comme modalité particulière de pénétration dans le monde et, par conséquent, comme possibilité de « faire advenir » le monde. La prolifération des divers objets technologiques dans le quotidien, est le signe d’un prolongement sensoriel et perceptif de notre œil qui change de nature. Il est de plus en plus sollicité et stimulé par la captation d’instants quotidiens immortalisés à travers le visuel, grâce à la facilite d’accès techno-numérique au processus de visualisation. Nous pouvons alors dire que la multiplication des appareils de visualisation représente une réponse aux besoins visuels de l’être contemporain, de cet homo tecnologicus « augmenté » qui, à plusieurs reprises, se positionne dans une stratégie de mise en forme du quotidien. Ici nous nous retrouvons face à une participation à la production de formes esthétiques dans le flux connectif qui contribue à styliser le sentir contemporain comme processus de transformation des effets techno-sociaux. Le cogito ergo sum cartésien se trouve aujourd’hui transmuté dans le photo ergo sum ou vidéo ergo sum : dans le double sens de voir et être vu pour pouvoir exister. Voici une des significations stylistiques du climat socio-culturel contemporain fournissant comme résultat, la prolifération et la circulation des images comme effet augmenté des techniques visuelles et la métamorphose existentielle de percevoir et mon(s)trer.


Interfaces sensibles 

Si l’on se plonge dans notre actualité techno-sociale-culturelle, il est possible de remarquer une explosion du visuel et la pervasivité médiologique dans notre existence à traves la prolifération d’innovations comme les écrans plats et circulaires dans les espaces internes et externes, d’objets nomades de vision, Ultra HD, 4D, tablettes et consoles pour jeux cinesthésiques jusqu’aux Google Glass qui contaminent l’imaginaire présent. Tous appareils qui influencent de manière prépondérante notre œil et notre vision du monde, d’un point de vu optique et tactile. Cette trans-mutation nous met en face d’un « techno-œil » comme modalité sensible de l’acte de percevoir, du regard, mais aussi de distraction et hallucination esthétique. Donc, dans le quotidien, la vision se trouve élargie, augmentée, et l’expérience in visu que nous expérimentons condense la modalité perceptive à travers la médiatisation techno-numérique. Une visualisation d’ondes technologiques qui part d’un senseur numérique pour transformer notre espace mental, le champ de vision et émotionnel dans une trans-immersion de la sensitivité humaine qui réorganise l’imaginaire contemporain. On pense par exemple à la banalisation de l’acte photographique et vidéo qui se répand à travers la technologique numérique du smartphone, en nous permettant d’accumuler des images de la vie quotidienne et des instants vécus et de les échanger et partager de manière émotive à travers la connexion au système rhizomatique du Réseau. Photographier et filmer la vie quotidienne, et ensuite partager et échanger les instants captés afin de créer des liaisons techno-symboliques, est un processus ordinaire pour capturer le monde en images: ce monde qui est devant nos multiples regards lesquels interceptent, d’un point de vue phénoménologique, les formes des immersions dans l’actuelle aura technologique.

Ce monde représente bel et bien une époque d’hyper-stimulation par le visuel qui génère, par conséquent, une constante hyper-visibilité où les corps s’affichent et se montrent en continu. Au quotidien nous diffusons à profusion des morceaux de notre vie via la communication par images interposées. C’est-à-dire que nous communiquons à l’autre nos facettes qui passent de plus en plus via une typologie de face à face écranique : ce rapport constant à l’image, d’échange et de partage, représente la visibilité des corps sociaux à l’ère de la reproductibilité numérique. Tout cela produit une sorte de carnavalisation communicationnelle dont le selfie[2] représente la tendance la plus commune du désir de se montrer et d’être visible et non dans le but que la plupart des observateurs psycho-socio et des journalistes définissent comme pathologie narcissiste. D’ailleurs si l’on pense à l’histoire des médias, à chaque nouvel outil de communication il existe toujours une tendance à soulever continuellement, et mettre l’accent sur, les aspects pathologiques et stigmatiser les médias : pensons à la télé, aux jeux vidéo, au cinéma, à l’internet. En conséquence, au-delà des analyses simplistes, superficielles de la réalité sociale, le selfie peut être vu et interprété comme un objet intéressant pour comprendre les mutations des formes communicatives à l’ère des réseaux. Comme l’indiquent Nancy Baym et Theresa Senft[3] – deux figures importantes des media studies – le selfie est un objet photographique permettant la transmission d’un sentiment humain sous forme de relation, mais aussi une pratique, un geste pour envoyer divers messages à des communautés différentes. On comprend alors ici, que dans sa banalité quotidienne, cette pratique est aussi un moyen de former et tisser des liens et surtout un instrument utilisé pour exprimer les situations émotionnelles et une présence socio-spatiale. D’ailleurs la photographie, ou l’image en général, est toujours de l’ordre de l’émotion, d’une circulation des affects, de la mémoire. Et alors, dans les pratiques communicatives culturelles de notre contemporanéité, le selfie est bien de l’ordre de cette sacralité affective, une manière d’expression des états d’âme circulant dans les territoires et paysages spatio-numériques. C’est bien cela la sensation d’une interface esthétique, sensible qui permet donc de diffuser et circuler les émotions et qui met en jeu les sens. Avec la pratique visuelle de la photographie numérique et le corollaire de l’univers selfie-instagram on visualise l’existence, on l’externalise dans un flux immédiat, on rend éternel le moment présent de notre manifestation identitaire. C’est une sorte de nouvel album de famille qui de la mythique pellicule Kodak se transmute dans la numérisation de l’existence, capte l’instant – le sens d’Instagram c’est bien cela – et nous donne un aperçu sur les manières d’habiter le monde. Cela amène à une dilatation du monde et du corps social à comprendre comme une des formes de communication contemporaines effectives où se mettent en action l’extase du partage et en même temps de nouvelles conduites sociales. Conduites qui reposent aussi sur la relation multipliée avec les interfaces sensibles : pensons par exemple à la forme tactile à cette capacité « digitalo-tactile » (Sadin, 2011) que l’on retrouve dans les smartphone nous permettant de zoomer, agrandir la visualisation et qui est le symptôme d’une sorte de relation maniaque avec cette tactilité, un rapport presque charnel.

Dans la continuité de ces types de conduite on peut même penser à la vocalité, et voir comment dans la fluidité de la vitesse contemporaine, dans la « condensation du vécu » comme l’appelle Harmut Rosa, sociologue-philosophe représentant de la nouvelle « Théorie Critique » liée à l’esprit de l’Ecole de Francfort, dans son Accéleration (2010).

Tout cela représente aussi un mode de s’aventurer dans le monde et de vivre le présent dans son immanence, de s’immerger dans l’environnement expérientiel. Une manière comme « champ d’actions possibles » (en paraphrasant la phénoménologie de Alfred Schütz) est d’autre part définie par la convergence techno-culturelle où s’approprier du monde signifie adhérer à cette gestualité et ces styles de visualisation techno-numériques devenus, désormais, une habitude du vécu contemporain. Si chaque époque a ses conventions stylistiques, alors nous pouvons comprendre comment les techniques de vision, en particulier, sont le fruit d’une action perceptive augmentée. Et comprendre aussi, en suivant Joshua Meyrowitz, comment la modification de la structure de situations sociales, la transformation d’une situation, comporte en même temps la modification du rôle joué par les individus et, par conséquent, la façon dont les instruments techniques de communication et visualisation changent les manières d’habiter et d’être présent dans un lieu. Ce que Meyrowitz définit comme une condition de « géographie situationnelle » peut être lu aujourd’hui à travers le prisme de la condition habitative techno-numérique redéfinissant les frontières de présence et perception. Si l’homme est mobile par nature (comme disait en 1973 Martin Cooper l’inventeur du premier téléphone mobile), alors l’effet contemporain du nomadisme connectif est un paysage logico-chronologique du devenir humain, des effets d’un espace temps en mouvement, élargi et augmenté surtout par les techniques de vision. Notre être toujours disponible et l’action de voir et de tout montrer – le tout est visible par nature – sont des symptômes d’une ontologie de l’être contemporain et de l’instrumentation technique qui, rappelons-nous, modifie les traces existentielles et perceptives. Si nous recourons encore ici à l’exemple du smartphone, il est possible de constater que dans cet objet se retrouvent ensemble les capacités techniques de la multifonctionnalité correspondant bien au désir de mobilité et de pluralité qui coïncide avec l’ubiquité permanente à saisir d’un point de vue spatial et existentiel. Cela est également le signe que l’on peut l’associer à la façon à travers laquelle la personne est affectée par les choses. « Choses » par rapport auxquelles il est nécessaire de réfléchir au-delà de la simple structure d’objet afin d’en cueillir la force interne, c’est-à-dire leur caractère « ontophanique ». Un processus phénoménologique nous permettant de prendre conscience des mutations sociales et culturelles, en tant que conséquences des effets technologiques. Pensons par exemple la façon à travers laquelle les simples « App », diffusées comme variances du dispositif techno mobile, sont devenues le corollaire d’un mode particulier d’être, le résultat d’une déclinaison stylistique qui miroite la singulière situation culturelle d’aujourd’hui. En ce sens, la phénoménologie de la technique montre comment les appareils technologiques ont un impact sur le comportement et, surtout, comment se conditionne la perception, le mode de rendre visible le réel. Dans la substance, la complexité du monde et de ses variabilités techno-sociales et culturelles, peut être pensée comme une situation existentielle qui apporte une option épistémologique.

Il est clair, en accord avec l’analyse de Stéphane Vial, que les interfaces numériques représentent une nouvelle matrice ontophanique: c’est-à-dire une nouvelle forme au travers de laquelle coule notre perception (2013b: 185). Et il est alors possible de comprendre cette modalité, si nous pensons particulièrement à l’effet de l’immédiateté conditionnant la vie sociale.


Modalités communicatives 

C’est dans cet esprit qu’intervient, par exemple, la profusion de l’image de plus en plus sollicitée, signe aussi de la prégnance – encore une fois – de tous ces appareilles numériques qui structurent l’être et forment ainsi un nouvel « apparaître » (Vial). Un « apparaître » fusionnant dans une existence sans fil, comme métaphore de la vie en réseau, qui tisse des liens et des ouvertures sur et vers l’Autre. En effet, nous savons bien qu’il n’y a pas de lien social sans communication et que l’ouverture à l’altérité se conçoit sur un jeu de tissage de liens, de résonance avec l’autre. C’est cela, comme le montre la réflexion de Michel de Certeau (1994: 165-166, 174-176), s’ouvrir à l’altérité. C’est également une production d’occasions de rencontre et de partage; une modalité que l’on peut comprendre mieux aujourd’hui avec l’évolution technologie nous installant dans une société du partage immédiat. Dans ce sens on pourrait même parler d’un présent qui se base sur les clics des claviers de nos appareils, conséquence d’une particulière extase du partage à considérer aussi comme une occasion de rentrer en syntonie avec l’autre. D’autre part, si la communication, dans un de ses sens classiques, se base sur la communication d’un visage, d’une certaine manière on pourrait voir l’évolution technologique comme une communication de visages partagés via les instants photographiés de notre quotidien qui circulent sans cesse dans les territoires du web. Si on reprend ici l’analyse de la communication de Michel de Certeau, son caractère évident est qu’elle rend possible la vie de l’individu, ce qui signifie donc l’insertion du vivant dans ces systèmes d’interaction; cela génère la forme et l’identité du corps social. De ce fait, la communication numérique de partage d’émotions et instants du vécu via multiples formes prend force comme significatif de l’identité numérique construisant un ensemble toujours plus vaste de partages émotionnels. Même si de plusieurs courants d’analyse il y a toujours plus de critique de la communication numérique considérée comme support de l’isolement, comme frivole et destructrice du lien social, au-delà il faut tout de même rendre compte de ce mouvement de partage en continu, d’une condensation du vécu sur le réseau numérique amenant à une sorte de narratologie du quotidien via les écrans. Il y a ainsi des nouvelles conduites sociales que l’on peut lire dans ce mouvement qui vise à « fluidifier et intensifier les liens à l’information » (Sadin, 2011) se développant à travers les multiples déclinaisons du réel dans le monde socio-numérique et qui trouve son terrain sur les écrans disparates formant notre sphère sociale. Il est clair que la contamination écranique signifie aussi contamination du réel où, à juste titre, nous apprenons à voir le réel à travers les images de nos écrans (Fisher, 2014).

Dans cette atmosphère, l’écran des divers objets connectés participe alors à faire apparaître le monde, à être-là et donc aussi au changement des catégories perceptives.

D’ailleurs dans la structure communicationnelle contemporaine, il faut remarquer comment l’écran devient la parabole d’un autre type de langage se déclinant via les symboles émotifs comme les émoticônes: on parle alors de « langage émoticône » qui envahit notre existence via les téléphones portables. On pourrait même faire référence aux emoji – tendance développée par les adolescents au Japon – qui structurent les échanges communicatifs via la vitesse. Un nouveau mythe communicationnel qui se base sur la phénoménalité des conversations rapides via sms, chat, forum qui s’intègre au langage classique des mots en lui ajoutant une touche esthétique au sens de l’émotion que l’on veut faire partager, et bien sûr amusante, comme forme et substance de l’esprit ludique contaminant le monde contemporain de manière carnavalesque[4]. Il y a là aussi un développement de codes formant un langage spécifique propre à une certaine tribu, ce qui signifie aussi une diffusion d’un style identitaire comme l’on avait déjà remarqué avec la prolifération de l’argot ou bien des mots coupés et inventés par la jeunesse via les réseaux numériques et les messages instantanés. Les émoticônes et emoji sont alors une empreinte visuelle, un autre type d’alphabet symbolique comme forme expressive d’une narration en images qui montre bien la force du symbole dans notre société[5]. Phénomène qui peut aussi être illustré avec la terminologie spécifique de « Parlimage[6] » montrant la manière à travers laquelle l’échange communicatif se fond sur un mixte de mots, symboles, émoticônes, images: donc une visualisation émotionnelle. Dans ce sens il suffit de mentionner des applications numériques comme Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, ou tout simplement encore l’ampleur de la génération LOL typique de l’avènement massif des réseaux numériques. Tout cela représente parfaitement une production de cet univers numérique rendu possible par l’avancement technologique, la prolifération des smartphones, et montre bien comment les nouvelles générations sont imprégnées dans une culture de langage de plus en plus visuel comme forme et structure d’un rapport au monde qui se compose aussi via le partage émotionnel. L’image, le symbole, sont alors des méthodes de conversation qui invitent à une réaction, donc à une interaction d’échange via photo, vidéo, smiley. La culture visuelle donne ainsi vie à cette modalité du « Pic speech » (Trinh-Bouvier, 2015) qui s’impose dans notre société actuelle comme un nouveau langage quotidien où l’échange émotionnel (images, symboles, émoticônes) représentent le cœur créatif de cette modalité communicative. Il est facile de nos jours d’explorer via les territoires numériques cette communication visuelle : un récit émotionnel quotidien, telle est la substance des échanges en continu de photos et smileys pour décrire une situation, pour commenter un instant. À la même manière on pourrait aussi faire référence, comme nouvelle conduite sociale, à l’échange via la parole des appareils de l’univers Apple avec la création de Siri, cette application de reconnaissance vocale qui nous fait penser à la machine HAL 9000 de l’Odyssée de l’espace du romancier Arthur C. Clarke adapté au cinéma par Stanley Kubrick, symptôme d’une intelligence artificielle capable d’interagir grâce à une interface vocale. Et ainsi aujourd’hui nous sommes souvent confrontés à ce rapport vocal avec l’iPhone où l’on parle avec Siri comme un compagnon de route et un assistant du quotidien ! Ou encore, dans le développement de l’intimité, nos échanges émotionnels avec des objets connectés ou objets dits « intelligents » – un véritable business où l’on produit tout et n’importe quoi – avec lesquels on est en interaction, sont le symptôme d’une mutation (sans apporter ici un jugement moral de notre part[7]) de notre environnement existentiel qui apporte ainsi une autre manière d’agir, un autre type de comportement (souvent jugé comme débile), une autre modalité d’interaction et communication[8].

Ces quelques exemples d’interfaces et modalités communicatives, nous informent sur cet échange incessant entre le corps social et le corps technique. Comme l’indique Milad Douehi, « ce sont les interfaces entre ces corporéités qui organisent et forment les articulations de la culture numérique » (2013: 26). Cela met aussi en évidence de plus en plus que le numérique n’est pas une substance morte mais bien un espace habité, un environnement d’un ensemble d’espaces connectifs.

L’expérience du monde est subséquemment influencée et agencée aussi par le numérique. Voilà une des substances à admettre dans notre contemporanéité où l’on ne peut plus négliger l’apport du numérique, des interfaces technologiques dans la constitution du vécu.



Dans la condition ambientale de l’esprit du temps, il faut alors penser la technique et l’existence à l’intérieur d’une même logique unificatrice. D’ici s’origine une production d’une sensitivité sociale qui participe à la construction du monde. Nous sommes dans une situation où l’imprinting techno-cognitif, numérique, crée une sorte d’écologie de l’esprit, de la communication et de la perception. Si nous pensons à la production et réception technologique, à la dilatation trans-culturelle médiatique, au mediascape actuel, il faut interpréter ces facteurs comme une conséquence logique d’une adaptation à l’époque « situationnelle » qui nous informe sur l’état de la société contemporaine. Le regard est donc projeté dans un paysage techno-symbolique numérique qui intensifie à foison les formes de l’imaginaire à travers lesquelles s’organise notre vécu et la conséquente mise en vision du monde.

Le perpétuel échange photographique et vidéo de notre vécu, l’instant messaging visuel, le ludisme hypermédiatique, la vision nomadique à travers les appareils sensoriels constituent un ensemble d’actions s’imbriquant à la façon d’alimenter, dans le théâtre de la vie quotidienne, la vision et la perception des détails et fragments de l’être au monde. Donc, dans un processus de connaissance dominé par l’exigence de créer des modes de voir et de penser, il faut créer une synergie d’acclimatation: c’est-à-dire une manière de dévoiler les racines de ce qui se vit dans le hic et nunc de l’atmosphère situationnelle, de manière à permettre de retrouver et reformuler un sens du Réel à travers l’expérience techno-existentielle du vécu. Il s’agit de considérer le processus historique et social que déjà McLuhan avait mis en perspective en analysant le rôle joué par les inventions technologiques sur les manières de vivre. Les médias, dans la perspective mcluhanienne, sont le symptôme d’une transformation de nos sociétés et en même temps créent un écosystème et une nouvelle nature. Donc, nous sommes confrontés actuellement à cette nature numérique dans laquelle il faut également remarquer la manière à travers laquelle le monde écranique représente un nouveau naturalisme (Fisher, 2014: 161) qui conditionne les modalités d’accès à l’univers social.

Cette condition numérique façonne ainsi notre imaginaire: nous le savons d’ailleurs et partageons ici l’idée de Doueihi que l’imaginaire social constitue l’enjeu premier de la culture numérique (2013: 23). A partir de là, il est possible d’observer comment l’influence numérique est le symptôme de mutations des situations sociales et des comportements, des liens et de l’être. On peut dire que la vie sociale mobilise toute une série de comportements observables aussi dans l’univers numérique qui participe à la structuration de mode de vie. Il faudra ainsi mobiliser un type de perception que l’on peut nommer de multi-perspective capable d’observer la dimension sociale dans sa globalité et complexité qui se tisse entre l’espace social tangible et l’espace numérique. Naturellement la perception correspond à ce à quoi nous pouvons donner une forme; ainsi la nature numérique participe à notre expérience sensible avec des stimulations sur nos manières d’être et d’apparaître dans cette logique ubiquitaire de la vie contemporaine.

Il est désormais clair que dans cette ubiquité permanente et dans la vitesse de la mobilité, il y a une fusion entre l’espace tangible et l’espace numérique, une tendance qui efface les barrières, les frontières entre ce qui est considère comme réel et ce qui est (encore !) considéré comme virtuel. Il n’est plus question alors dans ce changement perceptif et paradigmatique du numérique de continuer à parler de virtuel au sens qu’on donne d’habitude au terme. Rappelons-nous (de manière plutôt simplificatrice[9]) que le terme de virtuel possède une valeur sémantique très complexe et des significations variées comme en philosophie ou en physique. L’étymologie du terme vient du latin médiéval virtualis qui traduisait le concept d’Artistote de dunamis (la puissance). Donc virtualis peux exprimer une force à la base du mouvement du réel, ce qui signifie aussi que le virtuel est réel. Cette conception nous vient à l’aide pour montrer le changement du monde numérique dès sa création: c’est-à-dire que si dans les années 1980 on parlait de réalité virtuelle comme quelque chose qui s’opposait au réel, aujourd’hui il faut considérer le territoire du web comme un espace concret et matériel où nous habitons. Le virtuel (qui souvent reste une terminologie de référence pour la fiction ou mieux les univers fictifs) n’est donc plus une manière pertinente pour définir l’espace rhizomatique du web. C’est ainsi que, dans notre actualité, la conception de univers numérique prend son essor pour la compréhension de ce monde-ci et nous informe alors sur l’état de notre société. Observer le monde numérique, capter l’imaginaire s’avère être une des possibilités pour appréhender la nature humaine; l’imaginaire numérique représente alors une substance de circulation entre les diverses mailles du réel: ce qui nous amène à penser en définitive qu’il est indispensable de réaliser une connexion entre réel, imaginaire et numérique afin de rendre compte des fragments du monde dans lequel nous vivons.



DE CERTEAU, Michel, GIARD, Luce, 1983, « L’ordinaire de la communication » in Réseaux, volume 1, no 3, « La communication au quotidien », Paris, Dalloz, p. 3-26

DEBRAY, Régis, 1991, Cours de médiologie générale, Paris, Gallimard

DOUEIHI, Milad, 2013, Qu’est-ce que le numérique, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France

FISHER, Hervé, 2014,  La divergence du futur, Montréal, VLB éditeur

GEHLEN, Arnold, 1984, L’Uomo nell’era della tecnica, prefazione di A.Negri, Milano, Sugarco

GREENFIELD, Adam, 2007, Every[ware]. La révolution de l’ubimedia (2006), Limoges, FYP

LA ROCCA, Fabio, 2011a, « Techno-Œil: jeux de formes et d’images », in L’imaginaire des nouveaux médias, revue Sociétés, no 113/2011/3, Bruxelles, DeBoeck Editions, p.71-79.

LA ROCCA, Fabio, 2011b, « Culture visuelle et visualisation du monde: l’expérience in visu », in La postmodernité et ses multiples facettes. Perspectives et méthodes, Revue Sociétés, N° 112/2011/2, Bruxelles, DeBoeck Editions, p.95-102

MAFFESOLI, Michel, 2012, « Il reincanto della tecnica » in PIREDDU Mario, SERRA Marcello, (eds.), Mediologia. Una disciplina attraverso i suoi classici, Napoli, Liguori Editore

MARTINS DE LEMOS, Moisés, 2011, « Technologie et rêve d’humanité », in Les Cahiers Européens de l’imaginaire, « Technomagie », no 3, Paris, CNRS Éditions, p. 56-61.

MC LUHAN, Marshall, 1994 (1964), Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Boston, MIT Press

MERLINI, Fabio, 2013, Schizotopies. Essai sur l’espace de la mobilisation, Paris, Cerf

PUECH, Michel, 2008, Homo sapiens technologicus. Philosophie de la technologie contemporaine, philosophie de la sagesse contemporaine, Paris, Editions le Pommier

ROSA, Hartmut, 2010, Accélération. Une critique sociale du temps, Paris, La Découverte

SADIN, Éric, 2011, La société de l’anticipation, Paris, Editions Inculte

SIMONDON, Georges, 2012 (1958), Du mode d’existence des objets techniques, nouvelle édition revue et corrigée, Paris, Aubier

TRINH-BOUVIER, Thu, 2015, Parlez-vous Pic speech ? La nouvelle langue des générations Y et Z, La Grange Bluffy, Kawa

VIAL, Stéphane, 2013a, L’être et l’écran : comment le numérique change la perception, Paris, PUF

VIAL, Stéphane, 2013b, « Contre le virtuel: une déconstruction », in MEI: Médiation et Information, no 37, « Les territoires du virtuel », sous la direction d’Anolga Rodionoff, Paris, L’Harmattan, p.177-188

[1] Le terme latin signifie entrée, accès.

[2] À noter que récemment la revue International Journal of Communication a consacré une large analyse à travers diverses perspectives sur la pratique du selfie dans une section spécial du N°9, 2015, coordonné par Nancy Baym et Theresa Senft. Open acces: http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/issue/current#more4

[3] Professeur à la New York University, elle est à l’origine du Selfie Research Network, un groupe international sur l’étude des implications sociales et culturelles du selfie : www.selfieresearchers.com

[4] Sur ce sujet nous renvoyons à l’analyse de V. Susca (2011), Joie tragique. Les formes élémentaires de la vie électronique, CNRS Édition, Paris.

[5] À ce propos il suffit de voir le projet de design open source Noun Project pour construire une « langue visuelle mondiale » : https://thenounproject.com/

[6] Terminologie qui indique bien le phénomène de mélange entre écrit et images. Ce terme est utilisé particulièrement en psychologie.

[7] Voir à ce propos l’article « Is Smart Making Us Dumb ? » du The Wall Street Journal, 2013. En ligne: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324503204578318462215991802

[8] Pour une analyse psycho-socio de la question des technologies de communication et des relations humaines médiatisées par des machines, voir S. Turkle, 2015, Seul ensemble. De plus en plus de technologies de moins en moins de relations humaines, Paris, L’Échappée.

[9] Naturellement la discussion sur la signification linguistique du terme virtuel est beaucoup plus large. On peut par exemple recourir  à l’idée de Gilles Deleuze, de Thomas d’Aquin (la Summa), de Diderot (l’Encyclopédie en 1757).

Branding the Nation in the Digital Era: Why Don’t You Come Over?

Roxana-Elena POPA
University of Bucharest



Country branding cannot be resumed to a logo or a slogan. It is a much more complex concept; it is the image which is being outlined in the mind of the target group. Thus, a branding programme must not be reduced to a communication campaign, while the role of communication in managing country image should not be ignored either.

The current paper is trying to analyse the manner in which the image of a country can be managed through communication: what is the role of communication in the branding process, how it should be instrumented, what is the impact of new online communication techniques on forming or modifying the image of a country and whether it is necessary to include them in a country branding program.

Key-words: online branding, country branding, digital communication, image


Introduction: managing the country`s image in the digital communication age

The countries or nations are not products which we can take from a shelf or services which we may acquire. Nevertheless, some of them we consider to be brands. This means that they occupy a position in our mind, that we have formed an image on the respective country or nation.

Within the introduction of his last book, Simon Anholt (2010: 1), the one who almost two decades ago patented the country branding concept, clearly states: ”let me be clear: there is no such thing as nation branding. It is a myth and perhaps a dangerous one”. The theoretician’s argument regarding his hesitation to use the expression which he established refers to the sense attributed by the wide audience to the term of brand. The connotation of the branding notion is probably not a positive one for many of us. We tend to associate the concept with the idea of “wrapping” through publicity or marketing techniques with the purpose to sell a certain product/service: ”branding makes people think of superficial marketing tricks, perhaps even some cynical betrayal of the nation state and other human communities” (Anholt, 2010:1). Should we pass over this barrier of superficial understanding we will ascertain that the benefits of branding are much higher and that talking about country branding in the current context is well justified, moreover since branding is not limited to the commercial area only. Actually, beyond the marketing techniques and the advertising tricks we associate to this domain, branding refers to the posibility to define and to position ourselves differently in relation to the others, to expose our identity. Moreover, the countries can have a reputation just as commercial products have certain images. Branding operates with this type of concepts: reputation and identity. “Countries can usefully be understood as the sum of their identity and reputation” (Future Brand, 2014)..

Beyond the terminology we prefer to use (reputation/country brand), it is important that we are acting influenced by the images we form on the others, the reverse of the situation being just as valid. In the current context, more than ever, the image management does not represent an option, rather a necessity.

Image is a symbolic capital with a decisive role in a world of brands, when people and cultures meet and interact on the world’s global scene, more intense and substantial than in any other historical periods. […] Nowadays, having an image means to exist, to be present in the mind of others through the information flows of a media system. The image has become an ontological indicator (Georgiu, 2010: 93).

Countries, nations, maybe even more than individuals or perhaps just like them, compete on a global market through the images attributed to them. The effect of image, at the level of a country, or a nation, manifests on a political, economical, and social plan. The products which come from a specific country are accepted or not by the consumers also through the image of the country of origin. The political and social relations also depend on the image of the country that individuals belong to. This is why, regardless of the degree of economic and political development of the states, there should be a preoccupation regarding the image attributed to them. From here on results the importance which we must grant to branding and research in this area.

Communication is a process which influences significantly a brand’s formation and lately has suffered a major transformation due to the appearance of new technologies. Probably the most important modification refers to the informational flow and the relation between broadcaster and receiver. The classical monologue has transformed into dialogue or maybe even multilogue[1]. The target group has become a criticizing court that not only receives passively certain messages, but o offers a response to the transmitter, in real time.

The brand is not the result of communication techniques used only by the transmitter. It belongs more to the target audience in whose mind it is shaped. Taking into account the role which the target audience plays in the branding process, the adaptation to trends and its communication needs is important. This fact justifies the need to grant a special attention to studying the manner in which the brand is being built in the digital communication age.


Theoretical framework: removing stereotypes through online branding? 

The images of countries are most of the times reduced to simple stereotypes, being extreme simplifications of the reality (Kotler & Gertner, 2002: 251). Likewise, the brands and stereotypes are products of our mind (Lippman, 2009) often not having a positive effect.

The reluctance shown to Romanians by the members of other nations is mostly the result of negative stereotyping. The less pleasant experiences with certain members of the Romanian nation (the case of Romanians who at the beginning of the 1990s ate a swan in Vienna, the Mailat case in Italy) have been sent on a large scale through the media, facilitating the generation of a negative image on Romania, a generic, simplified, stereotyped image. However, such images would get rooted in the collective mentality, thus being hard to change.

Anholt (2010) considers that the change of a perception well anchored in the mind of the target audience could be determined only by a positive action/image with an impact just as strong, and only if the target audience manifests the availability to receive new information. For this reason, the theoretician states that trying to modify the image of a country, the perception of a target audience only through communication tools is as naive as it could be: ”National reputation cannot be constructed; it can only be earned; and imagining that such a deeply rooted phenomenon can be shifted by so weak an instrument as marketing communication is an extravagant delusion” (Anholt, 2010: 6). Projecting a competitive identity, based on a real, practical fundament is a more sure way to influence the images which are being shaped about a certain country. Kotler (Kotler, Haider & Rein, 2001) also mentions the importance of the need to communicate, based on a strong, actual fundament. To communicate without having the profile of a clearly outlined identity can only serve to drawing the attention on certain minuses which the respective country/destination has.

Although the theoreticians highlight in an obvious manner the importance of building and providing competitive products in order to determine a change of perceptions and images, the role of communication should not be ignored. ”Everything a brand does is communication” stated Paul Feldwick (Feldwick, 2003: 127). Truly, we can speak about a branding programme when we combine the two components: the one of providing value with the one of communicating the value. The simple existence of competitive advantages does not guarantee changing or shaping a complex image on a specific country. The communication facilitates the interaction of target audiences with the provided products, thus stimulating the modification of perceptions. Feldwick (2003) mentioned the three concrete directions in which the communication process can act: to provide information on brand, thus determining the target audience to become aware of its existence; to make a brand known and familiar; to create different patterns used to interpreting meanings and realizing association, thus it would bring the brand close to the target audience and make it more attractive.

Communication within a branding programme is not only resumed to the simple display of a logo, to airing certain advertisements, it is a more complex process which means it involves coordination, integration, and an interdisciplinary structure. In this context, online branding (Dinnie, 2009) is a concept which appears to take shape and become valid. The concept brings into foreground the domestic audience, but also the new trends on communicating the values of brands.

Online branding offers smaller, emerging or less-developed nations the opportunity to establish themselves as niche brands in a way that would not be possible through using more conventional branding techniques such as print advertising for example which cost puts it beyond the budget of many less-wealthy nations (Dinnie, 2009: 246-247).

Online branding is a concept that we use to define the activities implemented through digital communication, aiming to influence the shaping of images and perceptions according to a well-designed strategy. This does not imply that the country brand can be formed by using exclusively the online communication tools. Though, the online branding exercise is an extremely important part of the country branding program and its significance arise from the role of communication within a branding campaign and from the need to pay attention to the opportunities offered by the digital environment.

Talking about using the Social Media tools in managing the country image may seem a superficial vision. The online branding is not synonym with just posting a short message on Facebook or Twitter or publishing few articles on various blogs. An online branding campaign can be based on a complex strategy that may address and integrate various tactics of communication conveying them to the digital environment. Often, the poor or partial understanding of how online branding works can cause losing sight of the benefits of online communication, benefits that offer one of the most important reasons of integrating the online branding to a country branding campaign.

Communication in the digital age has its specifics being accessible and permissive both from the point of view of content and message, as well as the roles which the main characters of the communicational act have. The passive receivers of the classic communication flow become the transmitters in the online area. In the context of country branding, the internal audience can intervene by using the tools provided by the online domain, in order to communicate an authentic and real image on its own country, delivering their own message (consumer-generated-media). This involvement of the internal audience in promoting the country’s image is another important benefit of online communication that justifies its use.

Using the digital tools for sending a message can be considered an inadequate manner for transmitting the identity of a nation, of a country due to the informal character of the online communication. But, in the New Media age, the communication’s aim is the closeness between the sender and the receiver, removing barriers between the brand and the target audience, ones that are being imposed by formal communication. After all, the brand belongs to the target audience, thus the receiver is the one which directs the manner of communication, while the sender, whether it is an organization, a public person or a country, can only adapt to it. Besides its non-conformist character, communication through digital tools it is important as it allows the delivery of an authentic, trustable message, the registration of a faster feedback and reaction and, the most important, the collaboration between both instances (transmitter and receiver). Sending a message through Social Media does not mean only having a change of information, but also closeness between the sender and the receiver: ”collaboration is an inherent part of what defines social media – it is the building of relationships, not just the exchange of information” (Doorley & Garcia, 2011: 118).

Even when we talk about a country or a destination, the developments brought by the new technologies should not be considered an impediment or an option that can be ignored, but an opportunity that could be taken advantage of in order to improve the communication with the target audiences.


     The local context of the country branding 

Considering only the period after the comedown of the dictatorial government, we notice in Romania a concern for managing the way the country is perceived abroad by an external audience. From Eternal and fascinating Romania to Explore the Carpathian Garden, an important number of projects have been initiated in order to determine a change of the external perception, to remove the label set by the association with the former communist government. An overview of those projects may reveal a common point: the lack of an online communication strategy. It`s true, the use of the online tools and new media became a new trend at least locally, only almost a decade ago. Even so, the last program, Explore the Carpathian Garden, carried out in 2010, presented a slight use of the online tools (the management of a Facebook page and of an website) with a bottom drop out of interactivity.

The Why don’t you come over? campaign that will be analyzed in the current research  is a project carried out by a media representative, Gândul magazine, and proves that media can have also a practical involvement in the management of the country’s image, using tools less conventional specific to the online communication field, and not only having a critical position towards the branding campaigns developed by the government.


     Objectives, hypothesis, methods of research: Why don’t you come over? 

The assumption of the current research supports the need to integrate the online component to the communication strategy of the country branding program, betting on a better relationship with the target audiences, on the involvement of the external and internal public in a dialogue, resulting in a better management of a country`s reputation.

The objective of the research is represented by the analysis of how the online communication tools can be integrated to a country branding strategy and its specifics  (the involvement of various actors in the communication act, the structure of  an online communication campaign, the type of message delivered)  and the impact of such tools on a country image, reputation.

The image of Romania and Romanians, as it has been transmitted a long time by the international media, has not been quite a positive one. The situation seems to have become more intense starting January 2013, when the British authorities have expressed their worry regarding the high numbers of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants which were expected to arrive to England starting January 2014, when the restrictions regarding the number of immigrants and the access on the labour market were eliminated. The British authorities express their intention of launching a campaign for discouraging immigration: ”Government ministers are contemplating running a negative ad campaign to put off eastern European immigrants who plan on coming to Britain, reports have claimed” (Williams, The Independent, January, 28, 2013). The Guardian supported this idea[2], inviting their readers to propose messages through which they would determine the immigrants to give up on the idea to coming to Great Britain. Thus, the campaign Don’t come to Britain was shaped and consisted of realizing posters, using an ironical manner, through which British people would try to highlight the negative aspects of Great Britain, with the purpose of discouraging immigration. Such messages were published by The Guardian in its 28th January magazine[3].

The reaction of Romanians was immediate. Gândul and GMP creative agency which was involved in the publication’s brand management launched the campaign Why don’t you come over on January, 29, 2013. The campaign’s slogan was ”We may not like Britain, but you will love Romania. Why don’t you come over? the message being addressed to the British audience with the purpose of combating prejudices against Romanians. The campaign was conceived as a response to the British publication’s impulse to determine Romanians not to come to England.

The campaign was structured in three stages. In the first stage, there were elaborated posters published by Gândul.info, posters through which the British were provided with reasons for coming to Romania. The second stage of the campaign supposed hosting to Romanians’ homes the British citizens who would wish to come to Romania. The last one consisted in launching a section of available jobs on the website www.whydontyoucomeover.co.uk addressed to British people who were interested in Romania. The Romanian employers were granted with the possibility of registering job offers.

The campaign was carried out online, through the website www.whydon’tyoucomeover.co.uk, and today it can be accessed by going to  www.whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info/, through social networks (Facebook, Twitter), online articles published by Gândul.info, and offline (although the presence was significantly lower) through street posters in Bucharest.

The analysis of the campaign Why don’t you come over? was realized on a qualitative level. Combining the rhetoric analysis to interpretive and narrative ones,   we aimed to identify the overall structure of the campaign, starting from the courts involved in the project management, the motivation and the goal of the  actions, the composition of the message the stylistic use and the meanings transmitted. All of this to understand if and how the online communication tools can act to change perceptions.

Apart from the number of posters realized within the campaign, the publications which took over the message, or the number of sharings on the social networks, more important is the under layer of the campaign: the setting of the objective, the campaign’s structure, the communicators, the target audience, the communicated message, the adaptation of the message to the target audience. For identifying these aspects we have analysed the content of the campaign from a qualitative point of view.

The corpus was represented by the main articles published by Gândul.info in order to mark the main stages of the campaign. In these articles, the publication provides information to its readers on the way the campaign will be carried out, on the campaign motivation and objective. The content analysis was also applied to the website www.whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info/ where can be found the posters published during the campaign, as well as the transmitted messages. The analysis of the online platform also allow us to identify the storyline.

Removing stereotypes, changing perceptions, attitudes is a process developed on a long term and is a result of a complex series of factors. The sudden and immediate change of English public’s attitudes about Romania and Romanians is not a realistic expectation. However, actions carried out during the analyzed campaign can have an impacton on a short term period at least in terms of awakening interest and awareness. The short, medium or long term reactions can be best verified by a social investigation. Though, the articles published in newspapers following the implementation of the campaign Why don’t you come over? reflect to some extent the impact of the communication campaign on different target audiences: British citizens and foreign readers of those publications and by default media representatives.

The press monitoring was realized online, with the help of advanced search options made available by Google search engine. The interrogative expression used was represented by the campaign’s title: Why don’t you come over? and the defined search language was English. Twenty articles were selected which appeared in publications such as Time, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Spiegel, The Independent, The Mirror, BBC, Channel 4, The Telegraph, RT News, Examiner. The monitoring period was January 1st 2013 – January 1st 2014.

The grid analysis was represented by the major theme: the issue of Romanian immigrants, the Romanians’ response to British media initiative. In the identified articles we followed the way in which the campaign realized by Gândul was presented, the quality of the reactions (positive, negative or neutral); we also considered the message communicated during the campaign and the way it has determined a change of perception regarding Romanians.



The online communication campaign management: the internal public involvement

The accessibility of the new media offers the internal audiences (citizens or national media) the opportunity to carry out different communication projects, in this way having a practical contribution to promoting the country image. Why don’t you come over? stands in contrast with the official campaigns implemented overtime, being a project initiated and managed exclusively by representatives of the national media, the private environment (the public relations agency that provides brand management publication) and counting on an real involvement of the ordinary citizens.

The messages composed and delivered by the media or by Romanians through means of mass communication give more authenticity to the dialogue with the target audience (the British or international media, British citizens, British political class), being specific to the online communication.

Developed only in the digital environment using the specific tools, the Why don’t you come over? campaign offers a good example for the integration of the online communication to the branding strategy, giving access to different audiences to generate their own authentic message.


The campaign’s motivation and objective

During January 29, 2013 and February 11, 2015 Gândul.info published six main articles where each stage of the campaign was presented and also detailed what was going to happen, what was the objective and not least what was the reason of implementing such a campaign.

The campaign launched by The Guardian is mentioned in each and every one of the six articles. Thus, the reader is being constantly reminded what determined the launching of the project Why don’t you come over?. The action of the British people is being presented as a decisive factor for the programme initiated by the Romanian publication. This action actually reflects the acute issue of the negative image which Romanians have amongst the English citizens and the British authorities. In the article Gândul Campaign Why don’t you come over? – How it all started: how real is the „Romanian danger” in Great Britain  (Popescu, 2013), the situation which determined the launching of Gândul campaign, as well as the British action are widely presented. The author offers details on the situation of immigrants in England, discussing the case of Romanian immigrants, their percentage compared to that of immigrants from other countries, as well as the restrictions imposed to Romanian citizens who immigrated to England. The journalist realizes a complete portrait of the situation, highlighting the negative image of Romanians amongst the British population. Any communication campaign must start from a detailed analysis of the de facto state, moreover a campaign through which it is being tried to manage a country image. The correct establishment of objectives and the shaping of strategies depend on the manner in which this analysis is realized.

The specific objectives of the campaign are being suggested in four of the six articles which mark the beginning of the campaign and every stage of it. These objectives refer to:

  1. Offering an answer to British people’ messages from The Guardian:

Gândul, along with GMP Advertising, invites you to answer to the fear of Great Britain’s authorities regarding the Romanian ‘invaders’. Every day, two new posters within the campaign Why don’t you come over? will be posted here, on the Facebook page of Gândul (Gândul, 2013). From now on you can use the application “Come to Romania” directly on the website of Gândul. Make your own poster through which you can give an answer to the British (Gândul, 2013);

  1. Inviting the British to get to know Romania, having the possibility to be hosted by Romanians:
    a new step through which the British can get even closer to Romania and can get to know better Romanians. The curious British who are tempted by Romania can now have a welcoming place where they can be hosted: Romanians’ sofas (Gândul, 2013);
  1. The possibility to provide a workplace to the British who are interested in Romania:

Your voice was heard by the entire world, helping us to put into practice the incentive given to the British to visit Romania, by putting your sofas at their disposition; from today onwards we launch also a job section for the English who are attracted to or interested in Romania (Gândul, 2013).

The general objective was suggested in each article published by Gândul.info and by every action carried out within the campaign: changing the perception of the British that Romanians are a danger for their country, by arguing that Romania also has competitive advantages, that Romanians are welcoming, creative, contrary to the stereotypes which have been attributed to them.

The detailed presentation of the motivation, a general and clearly expressed objective, a corresponding goal set for each stage of the campaign, the use of the concept of image of the country indicate a complex structure, a communication plan built on a cohesive strategy, on an analysis of state of facts, suggesting that online communication campaign does not involve a random distribution of a message through social media; it can be considered a branding exercise with a strategic plan, integrated to  a comprehensive program for managing the country’s image.


The strategy, structure and message of the campaign

Each phase of the campaign appears to be structured on the basis of a coherent strategy, playing an important role in achieving the goals. In the first part of the campaign we may identify the technique of an antithetical response which use elements of the British language in an ironically way of speaking, a response that seems to confirm the claim of the British discourse, communicating in truth an opposite picture of the Romanian people of the one suggested by The Guardian. While the British were urging the immigrants not to come to England as they would not like it, the Romanians are inviting the British citizens to come and visit Romania since they will be pleased by what they will encounter, providing examples which prove this. The examples do not seem to be chosen at random, as they combine the benefits which the potential British tourists could find in Romania with elements which attract the attention of the English public: British personalities (the fact that Romanian women resemble the British Duchess and that Prince Charles has property in Romania), culinary habits (a more diverse cuisine than the well-known British dishes: fish & chips, pies, sausage), the climate (the climate in Romania is warmer than in England), etc.

The project managed by Gândul is not stopping at the communication of some benefits for which the English citizens would like to visit Romania, conveyed as posters, having a second stage in which they are invited to interact with Romanians and know the Romanian reality, practising tourism in couch-surfing system. The choice is not at random, the couch-surfing phenomenon being popular in Great Britain. The advantage of this kind of trip is the possibility of meeting and interacting with the locals, of having an authentic experience instead of one provided by the touristic industry. The strategy implies in this case as well that some recognizable elements are used to draw the attention and the interest of the target group, stimulating closeness. The invitation towards the British tourists also reveals the intention to highlight the elements shared by the British and the Romanians and their welcoming character.

The third stage also starts from a concrete aspect: the migration of the Romanian citizens to Great Britain with the desire of finding better paid jobs and the fear of the English that their jobs are being taken by Romanian immigrants. Thus, the English are encouraged to apply for jobs available in Romania, the Romanians proving their welcoming character, their generosity, and the fact that the labour market in Romania is not in such a critical situation leading to a massive migration of the Romanians to England but, on the contrary, there are opportunities for the British citizens, too.

The campaign is strategically ended by the publishing of a message in the same newspaper which launched the campaign against Romanians, a message for the British Prime Minister. If during the three stages of the project the information was directed towards the British citizens, aiming to stimulate the dialogue between the members of two nations, in the end the political sphere is also targeted, which is actually the author of the hypothesis concerning a mass migration of the Romanians towards England.

The title Why don’t you come over? and the slogan We may not like Britain, but you will love Romania reflect the message in an equal measure, being built in such a way to support the general strategy of the campaign which targets the change of the image of Romanians bringing forward their positive traits – their hospitality, their sense of humour, their creativity (hinted at by the direct speech, the friendly tone inviting to a dialogue, the ironic register).

The building of the online communication platform (the website www.whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info) offers additional importance to the campaign. The articles published by Gândul are important as they exhibit each step in the campaign, but the creation of the website adds more coherence to the message offering a general overview of the campaign. At the same time, the integration of the Social Media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Google +) and of the methods which allows Romanians to confirm their availability to host British citizens in couch-surfing system or to post available jobs, as well as forms which the English can use to apply for a job or book accommodation reveal the interactive character of the communication platform. Resorting to the online communication means, the public (especially the internal public) is motivated to get involved in the campaign. Therefore, the dialogue stimulated in the articles and posters is continued concretely through the website.

The website has a simple structure, reuniting all of the three stages of the campaign. The platform consists of only three tabs: Home, Work and Travel. The first tab, Home, brings to the foreground the invitation directed to the British to come to Romania for a job. At the same time, the Romanians are prompted to support the campaign by posting available jobs. Find employment and Pitch a job are sections dedicated to the two public categories: internal and external audience. The encouragement is not accidental as it is prompted by an affirmation in the campaign held in England stating that the employment market is saturated. The Romanians are not only eager to prove that they are not interested in emigrating to England in order to take their jobs but seem to support the British in handling the problem of the labour market offering them jobs in Romania: “If your job market is overcrowded, come over, there’s plenty of room in Romania” (www.whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info).

The posters created in the first stage of the campaign are also available on the website in the section More reasons to come over (see FIG.1). The 18 posters have a simple structure: on a blue or red background are written in large font messages dedicated to the British. In the bottom of the poster the logo and slogan Why don’t you come over? is incorporated. As mentioned above, the text found in the posters brings to the foreground the differences and the similarities between the British and the Romanians using points of interest for the British public with the aim to draw their attention.

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The second tab of the website, Work, offers tools which allow Romanians or English to post a job or to apply for one. Thus, the internal public can effectively get involved in the activities of the campaign while the external one can benefit from this. The section Find employment displays all the available positions in Romania with the possibility of applying for one: “We really mean it: we want you to come over”, “come on, try for a job in our country!” (whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info/work/find-employment/) Pitch a job is the section addressed to the internal public and it contains a form which can be used to post an available job in Romania directly on the website.

The third section of the website is dedicated to the invitation to get to know the authentic Romania, visiting it and interacting directly with the members of the nation which hosts them.  “We want you to see for yourselves what Romania is about” (whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info/travel/look-for-a-couch/) is the message addressed to the British in the section Look for a couch where they can also find a map, the hosting offered in Romania, published by simple Romanians by accessing Submit a couch. The message conveyed seems to rely on the strategy to change perceptions, attitudes, through authentic experiences provided by the direct interaction with the reality in question.

The communication through Social Media was not ignored in this campaign. Being aware of the role of the Social Media tools have in disseminating information faster to a broader public, the campaign initiators have included a section named “Spread the word” where the visitors can share the message on Facebook, Twitter or Google + in order to deliver the message to a broader audience.

The website is simple from a visual point of view, as well. Using colours reminiscent of the British flag (red, blue and white), straight, simple lines, few sections, the platform attracts attention conveying clarity and coherence.

The analysis of the articles published by Gândul and of the website’s structure www.whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info provides an overview of the campaign’s strategy and of the delivered message. Having started with the publishing of some articles and posters, the action continued and was developed online through the aforementioned website, thus creating a bridge between the communicated image and the promoted reality. The online communication tools not only help the dissemination of the message, but they also support its testing by the public.

At the same time, the use of specific digital communication techniques has a major importance as it offers the internal public the possibility to get involved concretely in promoting a different image of its country. In both the website and the articles published by Gândul the discourse is directed towards the internal public. The message delivered is adapted to each public segment (external or internal) prompting, at the same time, a dialogue between the two categories, a dialogue which could be translated as an authentic experience, the confirmation of the promoted values, which would determine the changing of perceptions and, ultimately, of the attitudes.

Why don`t you come over? effectively combines the tactics of various practices involved in the branding process, converting the advertising discourse from the classic monologue into a dialogue, giving an interactive character, more authenticity and credibility, providing a further argument for integrating the online component to a country branding program.


The impact of the message: the reaction to the Romanian campaign

In February 2013, at the end of the campaign, Gândul published an article with information on the impact the online actions had. According to the monitoring they carried out, the results of the activities undertaken comprise: over 5,000,000 reactions in the Romanian media (printed, online, radio, TV); over 100 materials in the international media; over 1,500,000 reactions on Facebook; 49,000 reactions on Twitter; over 17,000 reactions on blogs and comments; over 60,000 comments in the Romanian online media; over 300 Romanians made their couches available for the British who want to visit; 2 British people applied for jobs in Romania (Gândul, 2013).

Those numbers offer an overview of the visibility that the actions undertaken by the Romanians had amongst the different audiences: internal and external, members of Romania and Britain, representatives of the local and international media.

Our research involved an analysis conducted at a smaller scale and oriented towards the content published by representatives of the international media as a reaction to the deployed campaign. 20 articles published only online in English were subjected to the analysis, being identified through a search based on the title of the campaign. The monitored period was January, 1, 2013 – January, 1, 2014.

The interpretive content analysis was ment to identify the tone of presenting the main theme (Romanian immigrants issue, the Why don’t you come over? campaign), particularly aimed to identify the attitude of foreign media (positive, negative or neutral) towards the project carried out in Romania.

The content of the identified articles generally reflects a negative image of Romanians and Romania and a similar attitude. Of all analysed texts, seven present information in a negative way, using a tonality which suggests this fact „No, really?”[4] or reminding the readers of the events in which Romanians were involved and which caused the negative image: ”Romanians acknowledge that some of their citizens have given the country a bad name with ATM scams, begging and pickpocketing” (Evans, 2013). The messages transmitted in the campaign Why don’t you come over? do not seem to have fought the preconceptions and negative attitudes, at least among the media representatives who continue to present Romania as the poorest country, with a high degree of crime. The campaign launched by Gândul is considered daring and offensive: ”cheeky media campaign” (Toomey, 2013); ”stinging campaign” (Morse, 2013). Taking into account the influence of the media on the public opinion, one can legitimately consider that the way in which the message of the Romanian campaign was reflected has caused the amplification of the negative image amongst the British citizens. Moreover, analysing comments on the respective articles we find that, indeed, the riot and negative attitudes fostered by certain publications has been acquired by their readers, although we also find different, positive reactions concerning Romanians:

”How dare they!!! The only reason they think the EU is good for us is because it means they can come over here and claim our benefits. They have no right to say what is or isn’t good for our country. It’s interference like this that makes us want our borders back and our own rule.”[5]; ”Why the hell we would even think of limiting REAL Romanians from my country is beyond me! Ban the religious nutters, the militant terrorists PLEASE! You can screen out the gypsies too, not flookin rocket science!”[6].

An important part of the monitored articles report the facts in a neuter way with no positive or negative remarks of the authors, being restricted to presenting the campaign initiated by Gândul or the critical situation of Romania, balanced  by positive testimonies of young Romanians working in Britain or of British citizens working in Romania.

Like other members of the growing expatriate British community in Romania, he believes outdated stereotypes are holding the country back. “When you say you are going to Romania, people look at you with shock and horror, as if you are going to some place where there is no law and order and bandits roaming in the hills. The reality is something quite different” (Anonymus, 2013).

Remarks on the campaign Why don’t you come over? are mentioned in the articles of Time or Der Spiegel where the response of the Romanians is seen as positive and humorous: ”the Romanians have taken a more positive approach” (Paramaguru, 2013); ”Romania, meanwhile, took a more humorous approach” (Anonymus, 2013). The Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald, although considering the initiative to be daring, appreciates it, seeing it as an intelligent approach: ”These ads are part of a cheeky and clever campaign run by a Romanian newspaper” (Khaicy, 2013). If the British publications considered that the Romanian reply was offensive, the publications outside of Great Britain appreciated the initiative.

Analysing the monitored articles as a whole, one can notice that the positive reports can be found in America, Australia or Germany, while the negative ones belong to the British publications. A single article published by Huffington Post recounts the fact in a different manner than the rest of the newspapers. The author, Tessa Dunlop, appreciates the Romanians: ”Romanians are poor, but they are also well educated. It is a toxic mix. Believe it or not, most don’t want to leave their family, their friends, their culture, they do so because they are frustrated with the lack of opportunities in their homeland.” (Dunlop, 2013) The title of the article (Manners Please! Romania Is a Country Worth Staying Friends With) also suggests the disapproval of the author concerning the campaign launched by The Guardian.

While the messages transmitted through the campaign Why don’t you come over? has created a hostile attitude among the British public and, especially, among the British media representatives, the effect was different in the case of the audience outside Great Britain. Both the publications from other areas/countries and the members of other nations expressed positive remarks for the campaign launched in Romania: ”If Romania is as advertised in this campaign, and most Romanians are this thoughtful and clever, Britain should be BEGGING them to immigrate to their country”[7], stated one of the readers in Maryland, US. Even though it is possible that the objective of the campaign (to change the image of Romania among the British citizens) may not have been fulfilled (if we take into account the negative reactions identified in the monitored articles), we cannot ignore the fact that the action had an echo among other categories of target audiences who were intrigued.

However, the last article published in The Guardian at the end of the year 2013 seems to mark a change in attitude at the level of the British media, on a medium term. The publications which at the beginning of the year 2013 had launched the violent campaign against the Romanian immigrants seems to eventually show openness in knowing more things about Romanians and Romania. ”What is Romania like? Share your experiences” (The Guardian, 2013) is the urge which The Guardian addresses to the Romanians. In order to attract the attention, the text posted includes a paragraph in Romanian: ”Am dori să aflăm mai mult despre România – arătați-ne ce înseamnă să trăiești și să muncești în țara dumneavoastră – împărtășiți cu noi poze, imagini video și experiențe.” (We would like to find out more about Romania – show us how it is like to live and work in your country – share pictures, videos and experiences) (The Guardian, 2013).

The call transmitted through the article can be seen as a response to the message in the campaign Why don`t you come over?  which invited the British citizens to get to know Romania, to visit and to work in this area. The invitation launched by the British newspaper received 2,596 answers, as Romanians posted on the publication’s website pictures in which they captured touristic, cultural attractions, traditional activities from the rural area, etc. The comment section for this last article and the answer of the publication to the images posted by Romanians are not available. Their analysis would have been important to determine if a change regarding the attitude towards the Romanians and Romania has taken place following the posting of those messages.



As the concept of nation branding or country branding still give rise to controversy, the use of online communication component within a country branding program might as well be questioned. However, the country branding is a process that involves identifying the competitive advantages, promoting them, and also relying on the interaction more or less direct of various audiences with the reality promoted. The promotion of the competitive advantages and the above mentioned interaction relay on a communication act that has to follow the rules of a dialogue and not a monologue. The arise of this type of dialogue may be favored by the implementation of such an online branding exercise that involves the integration of the new media.

The planning and implementation of the Romanian campaign seem to have been based on a mixture of integrated communication techniques, managing to transmit a complex message which takes into account the needs of the target audience and the context of the campaign implementation, having been built on a clear strategy (highlighted by the the coherent structure of the campaign) and according to some well defined objectives.

The use of digital techniques shows an adaptation to the communication tendencies and needs of the target audience. The integration of the social networks tools, the online platforms (websites) or the dissemination of the messages in the campaign Why don’t you come over? illustrate the way in which the online element can be incorporated in the branding process. Furthermore, the creation of the posters with the help of Romanians, the continuous transmitting of messages to the Romanian citizens in order to support the actions of the campaign represent an example of the way in which the internal audience can have a practical involvement, highlighting the role of the internal public in the branding process.

The efficiency of such techniques in the short term, concerning the changing of the images or attitudes attributed to a country, is difficult to measure. Regarding the message dissemination, we notice the efficiency of the messages transmitted in the campaign managed by Gândul: 100 materials in the international media, the viewing, the sharing, the comments on Facebook and Twitter made by approximately 1,600,000 people; 60,000 readers who commented on the articles posted online. The digital communication, the message typology and the involvement of the internal public prompted the delivery of the information towards a broad public. The content analysis of the articles and of the comments does not prove, though, the changing of the attitudes among the British audience following the campaign. However, it highlights the impact on some secondary public categories. In the long term, the messages delivered seem to have stimulated a minimum of openness to knowledge. The last article published by The Guardian at the end of 2013 where they invite the Romanians to explain to the British audience how their country actually is, how they are, represents a testimony regarding this openness.

Why don’t you come over? started as a series of advertising messages delivered through posters, but it was a much more complex programme. It was not considered a branding campaign. It had a strategy suited to a campaign for managing the country image – a concrete example for the way in which the internal audience can get involved in promoting the country image using online communication tools. Incorporated in a complex country branding programme, with a well defined strategy on the long term, the analyzed campaign can prove the efficiency of managing the country’s image in the digital era by online branding exercises.




ANHOLT, Simon, 2007, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions. London, Palgrave Macmillan;

ANHOLT, Simon, 2010, Places. Identity, image and reputation. London, Palgrave Macmillan;

CHELCEA, Septimiu, 2001,  Metodologia cercetării sociologice. Metode cantitative și calitative, București, Economica;

DINNIE, Keith, 2009, Nation Branding. Concepts, issues, practice. Oxford, Elsevier;

DOORLEY, John, GARCIA, Helio Fred, 2011, Reputation Management. The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication, Second edition, New York, Roudledge;

FEDLWICK, P., 2003, „Brand communications” in CLIFTON, Rita, SIMMONS, John, Brands and Branding, London, The Economist, pp. 127-142,;

GEORGIU, Grigore, 2010, Comunicare interculturală. București, Comunicare.ro;

KOTLER, Philip, HAIDER, Donald, H., REIN, Irving, 2001, Marketingul locurilor, București, Teora;

LIPPMAN, Walter, 2009, Opinia Publică. București, Comunicare.ro;

OLINS,Wally, 2010, Despre brand, 2nd edition, Bucureşti, Comunicare.ro.


Articles in Journals

ANHOLT, Simon, 1998, “Nation-Brands of the Twenty-First Century”, Journal of Brand Management, 5(6), p. 395-406, doi:10.1057/bm.1998.30;

KOTLER, Philip & GERTNER, David, 2002, “Country as a brand, product and beyond: A place marketing and brand management perspective”, Journal of Brand Management, 9(4), p.249-261, doi:10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540076;

OLINS, Wally, 2002, “Branding the nation – the historical context”, The Journal of Brand Management. 9 (4), p. 241-248, doi:10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540075


Online newspaper articles (Romanian newspapers)

“WHY DON’T YOU COME OVER?” Răspunsul Gândul la campania britanică “NU VENIŢI ÎN ANGLIA!” [Gandul`s answear to the british campaign: DON`T COME TO BRITAIN] (2013, January 29), Gândul, retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://www.gandul.info/stiri/why-don-t-you-come-over-raspunsul-gandul-la-campania-britanica-nu-veniti-in-anglia-update-10528548 ;

Campania Gândul „WHY DON’T YOU COME OVER?” merge mai departe. Îi invităm pe români SĂ-I PRIMEASCĂ ÎN GAZDĂ PE BRITANICI. Pune-ţi şi tu la bătaie canapeaua pe site-ul campaniei [Gandul`s campaign  „WHY DON’T YOU COME OVER?” goes on. We invite the Romanian people TO OFFER THEIR COUCH TO THE BRITONS. Offer your couch on the website], (2013, February 3),  Gândul, retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://www.gandul.info/stiri/campania-gandul-why-don-t-you-come-over-merge-mai-departe-ii-invitam-pe-romani-sa-i-primeasca-in-gazda-pe-britanici-pune-ti-si-tu-la-bataie-canapeaua-pe-site-ul-campaniei-10540236

Campania Gândul „Why don’t you come over?” De unde a început totul: cât de real este “pericolul românesc” în Marea Britanie [„Why don’t you come over?” campaign. Where everything started: how real is the `Romanian danger` for the Great Britain],  (2013, February 3), Gândul, retrieved October 10, 2015, from  http://www.gandul.info/stiri/campania-gandul-why-don-t-you-come-over-de-unde-a-inceput-totul-cat-de-real-este-pericolul-romanesc-in-marea-britanie-10538667

De acum poţi folosi aplicaţia “Come to Romania” direct pe site-ul Gândul. Fă-ţi singur afişul prin care le răspunzi britanicilor[From now on you can use the app “Come to Romania”  directly on Gandu website. Make your own post to answer the Britons], (2013, February 4), Gândul, retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://www.gandul.info/stiri/de-acum-poti-folosi-aplicatia-come-to-romania-direct-pe-site-ul-gandul-fa-ti-singur-afisul-prin-care-le-raspunzi-britanicilor-10542676?utm_source=Gandul&utm_medium=Click%252BCitesteSi&utm_campaign=CitesteSi%252Bgandul

Campania “Why don’t you come over?” continuă. Din această seară le oferim britanicilor şi slujbe în România [“Why don’t you come over?” campaign goes on. Starting with tonight we can offer the Britons jobs in our country], (2013, February 7), Gândul, retrieved October 10, 2015, from  http://www.gandul.info/stiri/campania-why-don-t-you-come-over-continua-din-aceasta-seara-le-oferim-britanicilor-si-slujbe-in-romania-10549297

Pagina 8 din The Guardian. MESAJUL ROMÂNILOR către premierul David Cameron [The eight page in the The Guardian. Romanians message to David Cameron Prime Minister], (2013, February 11), Gândul, retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://www.gandul.info/stiri/astazi-pagina-8-din-the-guardian-mesajul-romanilor-catre-premierul-david-cameron-10554022/


Online newspaper articles (International newspapers)

Dhumieres, Marie,  (2013, January 31). Worried about immigration? Then come to Romania – all our women look like Kate and Pippa . The Indepdent.  Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/worried-about-immigration-then-come-to-romania-all-our-women-look-like-kate-and-pippa-8476016.html

Dunlop, Tessa, (2013, February 3). Manners Please! Romania Is a Country Worth Staying Friends With . Huffington Post. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tessa-dunlop/romania-is-a-country-worth-staying-friends-with_b_2598362.html

Evans, Natalie,  (2013, February 1st).’Come to Romania, our women look like Kate and Pippa’: Newspaper launches campaign against UK portrayal of immigrants. Mirror.  Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/kate-middleton-gandul-romanian-newspaper-1569564

Hurel, Quentin,  (2013, Feburary 27). The funny Romanian response. West Info. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from  http://www.west-info.eu/the-funny-romanian-response/

Khaicy, Gemma, (2013, September 15). Cheeky Romanians stick it to the Brits. The Sydney Morning Herlad. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.smh.com.au/world/cheeky-romanians-stick-it-to-the-brits-20130915-2tt6c.html

Morse, Felictiy,  (2013, January 31). Half Our Women ‘Look Like Kate Middleton’ Romanian Newspaper Says In ‘Anti-Britain’ Ads. Huffington Post. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/31/immigration-romania-eu-anti-britain_n_2588012.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

Ollie, John,  (2013, January 31). Britain’s New Slogan: Don’t Come to the U.K.! Time.Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/01/30/britains-new-slogan-dont-come-to-the-u-k/

Paramaguru, Kharunya, (2013, February 5). Romania Responds to Britain’s Campaign: ‘We May Not Like Britain, but You Will Love Romania’. Time. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/02/05/romania-responds-to-britains-anti-tourism-campaign-we-may-not-like-britain-but-you-will-love-romania/

Taylor, Jerome,  (2013, February 12). British expats in Romania: They come over here, taking our jobs… The Independent. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/british-expats-in-romania-they-come-over-here-taking-our-jobs-8492393.html

Toomey, Alyssa,  (2013, February 6). Kate and Pippa Middleton Featured in Romanian Ad Campaign: All Our Women Look Like Royal Sisters . UK Online. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from  http://uk.eonline.com/news/385558/kate-and-pippa-middleton-featured-in-romanian-ad-campaign-all-our-women-look-like-royal-sisters

Walsh, James, (2013, January 29). Putting people off coming to Britain: your pictures The Guardian. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/uk/gallery/2013/jan/29/immigration-britain-ministers-gallery#/?picture=403153052&index=0


Articles with anonymous author

Awful weather, poor cuisine: Romanian newspaper launches prank anti-UK ad campaign. (2013, February 2). RT News. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from https://www.rt.com/news/anti-uk-campaign-romania-295/

Brilliant Award-Winning Romanian Tourism Campaign. (2013, September 4). Buzz Feed. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/brilliant-award-winning-romania-tourism-campaign#.qqqX9MxQB

Come to Romania! Our women look like Kate. (2013, January 30). Channel 4. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.channel4.com/news/come-to-romania-our-women-all-look-like-kate

EXCLUSIVE: Romania launches ad campaign AGAINST Ukip after European election success. (2013, January 30). Express. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/478751/EXCLUSIVE-Romania-launches-ad-campaign-against-Ukip-after-European-election-success

Influx from the Southeast: German Cities Complain of High Immigration. (2013, February 4). Spiegel. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-cities-worried-about-high-immigration-from-romania-and-bulgaria-a-881409.html

Romania campaign mocks UK anxiety about worker influx. (2013, February 1st). BBC News. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-21291847

Romanian ads mock UK, claim ‘all our women look like Kate and Pippa Middleton . (2013, February 7). Examiner. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from  http://www.examiner.com/article/romanian-ads-mock-uk-claim-all-our-women-look-like-kate-and-pippa-middleton

Why has Romania got such a bad public image?(2013, February 25).BBC News. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21550768

What is Romania like? Share your experiences. 2013, September 15). The Guardian. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/5280f883e4b0b9c05d8a3396


Web refrences

Future Brand. (2014). Country brand index 2014-15. London, Retrieved October 13, 2015 from http://www.futurebrand.com/cbi/2014

http://whydontyoucomeover.gandul.info/ retrieved October 18, 2015


[1] Multilogue is a term used to express the change of the communication process between the transmitter and the receiver and the involvement of several instances (the information is sent from one receiver to another and to transmitter again). The term was mentionned in McMahon, Timothy, P. (2011). „Integrated communication” in John Doorley and Helio Fred Garcia, Reputation management. The key to successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication, Second edition, p. 264. New York: Routledge

[2] The Guardian informed about the Governement’s intention on and supported the idea in the article published on January 27, 2013: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/jan/27/uk-immigration-romania-bulgaria-ministers Two days after, they started the Don’t come to Britain campaign

[3] All the posters and messages published by The Guardian can be accessed on http://www.theguardian.com/uk/gallery/2013/jan/29/immigration-britain-ministers-gallery

[4] Comment of the author of the article Kate and Pippa Middleton Featured in Romanian Ad Campaign: All Our Women Look Like Royal Sisters published on 06.02.2013, in UK Online, retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://uk.eonline.com/news/385558/kate-and-pippa-middleton-featured-in-romanian-ad-campaign-all-our-women-look-like-royal-sisters

[5] Comment of a reader on the article EXCLUSIVE: Romania launches ad campaign AGAINST Ukip after European election success, retrieved October 12, 2015 from  http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/478751/EXCLUSIVE-Romania-launches-ad-campaign-against-Ukip-after-European-election-success

[6] Ibidem

[7] Comment on the article Brilliant Award-Winning Romanian Tourism Campaign published on 04.09.2013 in Buzz Feed, Retrieved October 12, 2015 from http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/brilliant-award-winning-romania-tourism-campaign#.qqqX9MxQB

Le multiculturalisme. Urgence d’un effort d’adaptation de la communication publique

Cristian Florin POPESCU
Université Hyperion, Bucarest


The key word of the stranger is an old topic. The stranger is the ennemy, if we consider the permanance of this character in rumor. By definition, the stranger is the evil, he represents the hidden mark of a continuos threat. He defies the order, the hierarchy, the habitudes and the identity of a community. It is during an entire history of humanity that the stranger has become the figure of a suspect by definition. During the antic epochs, the barbarians. During the Middle Age, the ennemies of God. During the modern epoch, «the other», always different, always disturbing the old order. And we are facing now the effects of the globalization and of the so-called multiculturalism. We are facing the effects of new media, of the freedom of circulation. On the other side, Europe is fighting in these days with a crisis of refugees coming from the arabic world. And Europe seems to have no solution. In regard of the new paradigm of terrorism since 9.11, in regard of the huge mobility of groups all over the world, and in regard with this new challenge of integration, the whole public communications (media, PR, social politics) have to accommodate to these new circumstances. Are they able to accomplish this task?

 Keywords: stranger, multiculturalism, integration – assimilation, clash of civilizations, new media, social media, citizen journalism.


Mise en perspective

C’est une évidence que, dès l’antiquité, le personnage de l’étranger a donné naissance à d’innombrables commentaires dans les formes textuelles les plus diverses, en commençant par les fictions, et en continuant par les méditations sociologiques, philosophiques, culturelles. Voyez, par exemple, la profusion des journaux de Voyages aux XVII-e et XVIII-e siècles.

Si on pense au portrait / mythe du bon sauvage (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montaigne, même Diderot, pour ne plus évoquer Robinson Crusoé qui rencontre Vendredi), si on pense à l’inclination des romantiques pour l’exotisme, ce qui sous-entend la création des géographies / univers parallèles, mais aussi la création de portraits des gens distincts des indigènes, le nombre des modalités de décrire l’étranger s’accroît.

En ce qui concerne le bon sauvage, nous avons une variante de l’amitié, qui laisse place à l’espoir. On recontre l’étranger bienveillant, candide, honnête, beau, ayant une belle âme. (Ainsi que ses variantes sous la forme d’un autre qui ne nous ressemble pas, sous le signe du grotesque. Par exemple, Quasimodo (Victor Hugo)).

Mais la littérature qui envisage l’étranger sous les signes du mal absolu, diabolique, haineux, destructif, qui entraîne le désordre, qui bascule les coutumes, les traditions, l’ordre naturel sociétal et moral, est, paraît-il, encore plus riche. Bref, cette littérature décrit l’ennemi absolu.

C’est ici que sont nés au fil du temps, jusqu’à nos jours, les nationalismes, la xénophobie, la haine éternelle entre les groupes ethniques / nations / races. C’est ainsi que sont nés les fameux stéréotypes raciaux, ethniques et religieux. C’est ainsi qu’on a construit l’ennemi – un thème développé, entre autres, par Umberto Eco (2011).

Si, à l’époque moderne (la période d’entre les deux guerres mondiales, suivie par la guerre froide), l’étranger / l’ennemi était établi à partir de la perspective de l’état-nation (avec les compléments apportés à un moment donné par la doctrine hitlérienne sur la race supérieure – l’antisémitisme et, en plus, toutes les autres races considérées comme inférieures, en commençant par les ukrainiens et terminant par les tziganes), en ce moment, en plein essor de la mondialisation, des nouvelles médias (considérés comme la technologie du postmodernisme), du néolibéralisme qui vient d’accomplir la fluidité des frontières, favoriser la libre circulation des citoyens, de la main d’oeuvre et des capitaux, surtout après le 11 septembre 2001, l’ennemi arrive à porter un seul nom: le musulman, l’islam, les réseaux terroristes créés surtout dans la monde arabe. (Il faut ajouter les accomodations localisées de cet ennemi, qui se sont manifestées à grand bruit dans les tabloïdes britanniques concernant l’invasion des tziganes roumains)).

Un Samuel Huntington parle d’un choc des civilisations (1996). Un Francis Fukuyama estime que le rôle le plus important appartient à ce qu’il appelle la disparition des idéologies qui s’achève par la fin de l’histoire (1991).

De l’autre côté, en quelque sorte, plusieurs Etats ont théorisé, ont expérimenté et ont déployé le multiculturalisme. Nous laissons de côté les Etats / nations qui sont nés et qui se sont édifiés à partir du multiculturalisme, les Etats créés par les vagues d’immigrations succesives (Etats-Unis, Canada, même Australie / Nouvelle Zélande), et nous allons aborder en premier lieu les anciennes métropoles des anciens empires coloniaux lesquels, chacun à sa manière, ont essayé de créer et gérer l’intégration des communautés. Chacun de ces Etats a essayé à sa manière de créer et gérer l’intégration de communautés appartenant à d’autres races et religions: Le Royaume-Uni de Grande-Bretagne et d’Irlande du Nord, respectivement, la France.

En Grande-Bretagne, on a mis l’accent sur la community cohesion. L’ancien premier ministre Tony Blair lançait le concept britannicité, un synonyme pour identité nationale. Ce concept se constitue selon lui, « autour des valeurs civiques: la tolérance, les droits de l’homme, la  justice et la démocratie » (Garbaye, 2011).

La France, au contraire, a joué (et joue encore) sur le dispositif constitutionnel de l’identité, édifié sur le concept de la citoyenneté établi par la Constitution. Et, à partir d’ici, sur l’égalité, sur la laïcité, sur le fait d’avoir en commun la langue française.

Les deux stratégies, qui proposent la réalisation de l’intégration, et non de l’assimilation,  ont enregistré de remarquables succès, mais aussi des échecs devenus manifestes à plusieurs reprises (la crise des banlieues des grandes villes en France – 2005; l’épisode Charlie Hebdo – 2015, la révélation du fait que les terroristes britanniques – Londres, 2005 – étaient des citoyens britanniques d’origine pakistanaise etc.).

Apparement, les stratégies des politiques sociales mises en œuvre pour éliminer la discrimination et donc pour favoriser l’intégration des communautés musulmanes, se sont heurtées contre le mur élevé par le désir de ces minorités de garder leur identité. Si les stratégies élaborées à la longue (surtout en France) visaient la co-exitence sous la devise de la diversité culturelle, les résistances communautaires (dirigées avec zèle par les imams) ont conduit, par ailleurs, à la ségrégation, à l’auto-isolation, au refus de respecter l’ordre constitutionnel et législatif du pays d’adoption.

Mais, à ce moment, l’Europe, y compris les deux Etats pris comme exemples (surtout la France), se trouve devant des provocations politiques, sociales et culturelles sans précédent. Quoique ces Etats paraissent des cités assiégées, les pays européens se trouvent devant l’impératif de l’absorbtion et de l’intégration (un processus compliqué et de longue durée) d’une vague de réfugiés musulmans estimé à plus d’un million de personnes.

Est-ce que les stratégies appliquées jusqu’à présent sont-elles suffisantes (qui ont enregistré elles-mêmes de nombreux ratés)? Ou bien est-il nécessaire d’inventer d’autres modalités encore?

Et s’il faut inventer d’autres modalités, en quoi consisteraient-elles?

Quel est le rôle des médias dans de telles circonstances? Quels sont les trajectoires de leur adaptation professionnelle? Est-ce que les médias seront-ils obligés à privilégier une fonction ancienne décrite par des théoriciens américains de la presse, la fonction de médiation, à-côté des fonctions traditionnelles dont la fonction fondamentale est la fonction watch dog? Est-ce que les médias vont privilégier la fonction prisme négligée jusqu’à présent par rapport à la fonction de refléter? Pour ne pas invoquer ce que les journalistes et les théoriciens américains appellent Interpretative Reporting, où l’enjeu principal est représenté par l’analyse.


La crise des médias classiques. Mise en perspective

Le début du XXe siècle enregistre les premiers essais, qui sont encore en vigueur de nos jours, pour transformer le journalisme en profession (1918 – Le Syndicat des Journalistes Français – Code éthique; 1922 – American Society of Newspapers Editors – Canons of Journalism et d’autres encore).

Dans ces codes on exprimait la mission de la presse dans une société démocratique, mais aussi les réglementations concernant la mission du journaliste par rapport aux autres pouvoirs de l’Etat.

Petit à petit, la presse de qualité a imposé ses critères professionnels qui ont fait de la communication par les médias un élément indispensable pour le fonctionnement correct des mécanismes de l’Etat démocratique et pour les conseils livrés aux citoyens, afin qu’ils puissent réellement participer sciemment, d’une manière rationnelle, aux décisions.

La même presse de qualité s’est efforcée à refléter et à fournir des informations correctes, complètes et promptes, concernant la vie de la société, les événements économiques et politiques.

Les années ‘60-’70 du XX-e siècle sont marquées par une profusion des codes éthiques; en ce moment, il n’y a pas d’institution de presse/médias de qualité, soit-elle privée ou publique, qui ne dispose d’un code de conduite professionnelle.

Les premiers codes invoqués ont stipulé d’une manière claire et ont implémenté le positionnement correct du journaliste à l’intérieur d’une démocratie. Le journaliste ne se substitue ni à la justice, ni à la police, ni à la… publicité.

Les codes ultérieurs ont détaillé les modalités d’accéder à un statut de neutralité et d’arriver à la capacité d’informer sans biais (en évitant les incompatibilités), et ils ont introduit des éléments de conduite professionnelle pour éviter la discrimination sociale, religieuse, ethnique, raciale, en insistant sur les principes fondamentaux: la présomption d’innocence, les prescriptions détaillées afin de respecter la dignité d’autrui (la calomnie, le respect du droit à sa propre image, le respect pour la vie privée).

Vers la fin du XX-e siècle, on a insisté dans les codes des journalistes sur la nécéssité de se refuser la stéréotypie (raciale, ethnique, de genre) et la discrimination des minorités (y compris les minorités sexuelles). Grâce à l’offensive du féminisme, on est arrivé à un grand souci en ce qui concerne l’égalité de genre dans la vie sociale et, grâce au concept correctement politique, on est arrivé à l’exigence d’éviter à tout prix la discrimination des personnes handicapées.

Toutes ces exigences d’un comportement profesionnel correct essayent d’orienter la profession vers sa tâche de médier entre les groupes de la société, de  bâtir la tolérance envers la diversité culturelle, ethnique, religieuse. En d’autres mots, la profession des journalistes est censée (allusivement) de jouer un rôle éducatif pour arriver à une coexistence harmonieuse des groupes de la société et des groupes ethniques / raciaux.

(D’une manière évidente, en même temps, les administrations des Etats vraiment démocratiques ont imaginé et ont mis en œuvre des dispositifs législatifs, afin que les principes fondamentaux des droits de l’homme et du citoyen – la liberté d’expression, ce qui veut dire aussi, la liberté d’adhérer ou non à une réligion, ainsi que la liberté de s’associer – soient rigoureusement respectées. Alors, la diversité qui se met en marche pourrait se manifester en toute liberté.)

On espérait, sans le dire, que le multiculturalisme – le dialogue entre les cultures de niche et le dialogue de ces cultures avec la culture nationale dominante – aboutisse à l’enrichissement culturel et sociétal.

On attendait une synthèse culturelle qui signifierait l’enrichissement du patrimoine culturel national et universel.

Par ailleurs, il faut remarquer que cette tendance est reflétée avec intensité dans les productions de la culture en masse – comparez un policier des années 1990-2000 à un policier des années 1960-1970, et vous allez remarquer que les sièges de police, les hôpitaux, les salles des tribunaux sont devenus multiculturelles, multiethniques. Voyez aussi ce qu’on a considéré une révolution de la télévision: les innovations imposées par la CNN.

Hall Jamieson et Cappella estiment que la CNN a changé les normes des nouvelles, tout d’abord pour les chaînes de télévision américaines. Plusieurs anchors-vedettes, d’où un abaissement de l’accent mis sur la personnalité de l’anchor. On a accru davantage, par rapport aux chaînes concurrentes américaines, le nombre des femmes et des personnes appartenant aux groupes minoritaires, dans le rôle de l’anchor (Hall Jamieson, Kathleen, Cappella, Joseph N., 1997: 18-19).

Apparemment, les médias de qualité s’efforcent de respecter les règles d’une cohabitation sociale normale, afin que les minorités soient traitées d’une manière équitable par rapport à la majorité.

La plupart des codes éthiques des journalistes exigent de renoncer à indiquer l’appartenence à n’importe quelle minorité des actants de la nouvelle, si cela n’aide pas le public à mieux comprendre ce qui s’est passé.

Pourtant, les journalistes ont du mal à s’attaquer à deux types d’événements: l’attentat terroriste (dans sa version postmoderniste, à partir du 11 septembre 2001 – nous allons revenir sur ce phénomène) et, ce qui paraît insoluble, la démarche de favoriser le dialogue, la réalisation d’un patrimoine commun forgé par la synthèse des cultures différentes qui composent la multiculturalité.


Zygmunt Bauman: la communauté. Avertissements inquiétants

En même temps, des sociologues et philosophes remarquables qui se sont penchés sur les mutations issues des phénomènes qu’on appelle mondialisation / société postindustrielle / postmodernisme se sont appliqués aux modalités du fonctionnement de la cohabitation des diverses communautés à l’intérieur d’une soi-dite société multiculturelle.

Leurs analyses, leurs interrogations troublantes son restés sans écho sur le discours des médias, au moins jusqu’à présent.

L’ambiguïté est donc née, et elle paraît même s’aggraver, autant que la bibliographie conssacrée à ce phénomène s’accroît.

La multiplication des angles représente, en fait, la multiplication des perspectives: politique / géopolitique, économie politique, sociologie, culture. De l’autre coté, paraît-il, d’une manière plus intense par rapport à n’importe quelle époque, la réalité qui devrait être décrite / explicitée / interprétée évolue trop rapidement.

Pourtant, nous avons quelques prémisses / explications qui paraissent avoir une pertinence acceptée en unanimité. Nous allons les aborder d’une manière schématique.

1) Durant les années 1970 (une époque de confrontation politique, idéologique et culturelle des deux blocs – le monde libéral et le bloc communiste) on peut remarquer la régionalisation des acteurs économiques (Etats-Unis vs. Japon, marché commun européen vs. CAER – le marché des pays communistes). Ce tableau géopolitique fait que la partie libérale de la planète (échange libre des marchandises + circulation libre des personnes / des capitaux) aboutit à un dénouement concret et, en même temps, symbolique: la fluidité des frontières.

Autrement dit, les centres de la planification / de la décision et du puvoir financier /  économique commencent à être détéritorialisés (dépassent l’autorité / la limitation locale). En revanche, ceux qui supportent les effets de ces mutations, restent localisés.

Tous ces mouvements ont besoin de décentralisation, de flexibilité, de mobilité.

A l’opposé, la planification hiérarchisée, bureaucratique, à laquelle on purrait ajouter les altérations / distorsions provoquées par le dogme idéologique au fonctionnement des mécanismes économiques, a pleinement contribué aux décalages économiques des deux camps.

En d’autres mots, le libéralisme, qui n’est pas forcément plus juste, a triomphé. La chute du Mur de Berlin / du rideau de fer a eu un effet important: elle a produit l’accélération du rythme de la mondialisation, en créant de nouveaux marchés-cibles (les anciens pays communistes) pour le capital ocidental / américain.

Le triomphe économique est-il à la fois un triomphe idéologique-politique-militaire (?), y compris grâce à la disparition du bloc militaire créé par le Traité de Varsovie?

C’est dans tout ce contexte que Francis Fukuyama a pu prononcer ses fameuses paroles qui ont provoqué tant de commentaires: la fin de l’histoire.

2) De l’autre côté, en premier lieu les altermondialistes, mais aussi les philosophes, les économistes représentant la gauche post-marxiste occidentale, estiment que les décalages Nord / Sud, et à l’intérieur des Etats (encore) nationaux les décalages mondialisés / localisés (synonimes – riches / pauvres – grandissent toujours. Dans de telles circonstances, d’autres concepts / phénomènes font leur apparition: exclusion, discrimination, ghetoïsation (avec le synonime français communitarisme), néocolonialisme.

3) Les rythmes frénétiques aboutissent à ce que, par exemple Zygmunt Bauman (il n’est pas le seul) considère comme phénomène / effet / concept / expérience fondamentale (individuelle et sociale, c’est-à-dire politique, économique, culturelle).

« La notion compression de l’espace – temps [notre accent] désigne d’une manière sommaire la transformation des paramètres de la condition humaine complexe, en train de se réaliser ». (Bauman, s.d., b: 5-6)

4) Ces paramètres sont détérminés – suggère allusivement Zygmunt Bauman – par la contradiction (objective?) du mondialisé (mouvement) – localisé (immobilisme).

Les centres de la production de la signification et de la valeur sont en ce moment, extratéritoriaux, donc en dehors des contraintes locales – état inapplicable à la condition humaine, que ces valeurs et ces significations devraient [notre accent] inspirer et expliciter. Ayant comme essence la mobilité, la polarisation actuelle a de nombreuses dimensions: le nouveau centre avance une interprétation différente des distinctions traditionnelles entre les riches et les pauvres; entre les nomades et les sédentaires, entre ”ceux qui sont normaux” et anormaux ou qui se trouvent hors-la-loi. (Bauman, s.d., b: 7)

5) Grâce aux nouvelles technologies de la communication, le monde mondialisé devient, d’une part, cosmopolite (↔ la promotion de la diversité ethnique, culturelle, religieuse et linguistique à l’intérieur des Etats-nations, mais qui favorise aussi les sécessionismes de tous sortes: corse, irlandais, basque, catalan et même québéquois et belge etc.) et de l’autre, le monde entier devient interconnecté.

La societé n’est plus apte à sauver, constate Zygmunt Bauman. En d’autres mots: la societé est indifférente en ce qui concerne le bien et le mal. Conséquence: dans de telles circonstances, lorsqu’on suppose que la société est ainsi, on pourrait soutenir le multiculturalisme.

Si la societé n’a pas de préférences, il n’y a aucune modalité de savoir si les préférences de quelqu’un seraient meilleures que celles d’un autre.

« D’ici, le droit d’être différent, le droit à l’indifférence [notre accent] »;

Lorsque la tolérance réciproque est couplée avec l’indifférence, les cultures communautaires pourraient vivre en proximité, mais elles se parlent rarement. Dans un monde du multiculturalisme, les cultures pourraient coexister, mais elles ont du mal à avoir une vie commune [notre accent] » (Bauman, s.d., a: 100)


Allons plus loin encore. Zygmunt Bauman indique plusieurs auteurs qui tentent de clarifier les problèmes du multicultualisme. Ils arrivent à des conclusions plutôt pessimistes.

Pour Jonathan Friedman, dans notre monde qui se mondialise rapidement, «ce qui arrive est que les frontières ne disparaîssent pas. Plutôt, il paraît qu’elles s’élèvent dans tous les coins des rues, près de tous voisinages qui sont en train de diparaître de notre monde» (Friedman, 1999: 241).

Dans ces circonstances, et en tenant compte des constats des évolutions quotidiennes, on pourrait conclure que la question est insoluble. Pire encore. Il paraît qu’on tourne bel et bien dans un cercle vicieux

D’une part, les communautés luttent pour préserver leur identité culturelle / linguistique / religieuse à tout prix.

De l’autre coté, les majoritaires sont en quête d’accomplir les idéaux démocratiques de l’intégration, et non de l’assimilation, ayant comme résultat une certaine harmonisation, donc une certaine diminution de l’identité des groupes intégrés.

Il paraît que la fameuse synthèse culturelle qui devrait naître de la coexistence multiculturaliste peut s’accomplir seulement au niveau de l’individu, jamais en ce qui concerne une collectivité entière.

Selon cette logique, on a vu s’affirmer des créateurs importants, par exemple, Eugène Ionesco ou Albert Camus, et encore beaucoup d’autres qui, dans les tréfonds de l’alchimie de leur création, ont amalgamé des traits / impulsions / visions profondément nationaux avec des influences du milieu qui a favorisé leurs œuvres.

Dans de telles conditions, la communication publique, dans tous ses formats, aurait la tâche de favoriser le dialogue des cultures communautaires. Dialogue qui, s’il se passait d’une manière systématique, aboutirait à une conclusion déjà exprimée par les spécialistes en littérature comparée. A la suite d’un tel dialogue interculturel possible, chacun des deux participants subit des changements. C’est le point où commence à s’édifier la fameuse synthèse culturelle.


Les médias et le terrorisme

Le phénomène terroriste est loin d’être si neuf. Variante de la guerre, le terrosime est aussi vieux que la guerre.

Ce phénomène extrêmement visible depuis quelque temps grâce aux technologies de la communication (à la fois modernistes et postmodernistes), a des racines profondes dans l’anarchisme qui s’est manifesté au début du XX-e siècle. Le terrorisme a aussi de nombreuses affinités avec les luttes de guérillas (luttes des partisans) qui se sont déployées durant les grandes guerres. Le terrorisme, dans ses formes de manifestation, a pas mal de points communs avec les luttes pour la libération nationale déclenchées par des provinces diverses (voyez le groupement ETA en Espagne, voyez le terrorisme corse en France, voyez l’interprétation des Etats occcidentaux et des Etats-Unis concernant la lutte des Chechens en Russie).

Enfin, le terrorisme a pas mal de points communs avec l’infractionnalité organisée (voyez la lutte anti-mafia en Italie). Et; fait également important, le terrorisme est lié aux disputes idéologiques (Wieworka et alii, 1987).

Longtemps avant la borne 11 septembre 2001, les analystes dressaient des distinctions nettes entre le terrorisme interne et le terrorisme international (Garcin Marrou, 2005).

Depuis longtemps, les médias ont été accusées de connivence avec les jeux des terroristes, en leur assurant une publicité exagerée, en quête de sensationnalisme et de recettes publicitaires.

Mais, petit à petit, les institutions destinées à gérer une crise terorriste ont amélioré leur habileté à communiquer envers la société (Public Relations: la communication de l’institution – ici, un gouvernement – à travers une situation de crise). Ces institutions ont réglementé aussi les modalités des communications médias dans de telles circonstances.

Parallèlement, les codes éthiques des institutions médias importantes (l’Agence Reuters) indiquent pour leurs journalistes des éléments destinés à les aider à trouver une position correcte.

Le terme terroriste, affirme l’Agence Reuters, est une étiquette politique. Voilà pourquoi, pour présérver notre neutralité, ce terme sera employé seulement dans les citations des sources officielles, jamais sous la signature des journalistes de l’agence. Nous allons remplacer ce terme avec des périphrases: par exemple, des militants islamistes (Reuters Handbook of Journalism, 2008, http://handbook.reuters.com/extensions/docs/pdf/handbookofjournalism.pdf).

Une exigence respectée à peu près complètement par les médias anglo-américains.

Voilà comment, au-delà de la mise en thème sur les faits du jour, les journalistes se sont dirigés vers des aprofondissements appartenant à la géopolitique, à l’économie globale, à la politique internationale etc.

Apparemment, les médias ont trouvé leur positionnement correct dans cette espèce d’événement. Evénement qui, grâce à la même mondialisation appuyée par les technologies de la communication (les nouvelles médias), est devenu à la fois détéritorialisé et téritorialisé.


Les médias et le multiculturalisme. Dérapages

Apparemment, autant qu’ils se fixent dans la grille politiquement correcte, les médias contribuent au climat d’indifférence masquée par la tolérance que nous avons décrit plus haut (en citant Zygmunt Bauman), donc à l’état d’incommunicabilité entre les différents groupes culturels, et entre ces groupes et la majorité.

Mais il y a des dérapages.

La tragédie Charlie Hebdo a été longuement commentée de plusieurs perspectives, pro et anti.

Selon un point de vue, les journalistes de Charlie Hebdo seraient coupables, parce qu’ils ont raillé les symboles sacrés des musulmans (encore minoritaires en France et en Europe). Car, l’islam interdit, à partir du XVI-e siècle, les imageries du Prophète, sans en mentionner les images ayant des connotations humoristiques-ironiques-sarcastiques (contrairement au monde chrétien qui met un fort accent sur l’iconographie et qui, depuis Voltaire et depuis Nietzsche, lorsqu’il s’agit d’un blasphème ou d’une ironie, ne met (plus) en fonction les armes létales pour punir d’une manière exemplaire les coupables).

Il est impossible de conclure avec des arguments si les journalistes de Charlie Hebdo ont ignoré les spécificités culturelles musulmanes ou si leur intention a été de railler la culture d’une minorité importante.

Une seconde série d’explications a envisagé le soi-disant échec du modèle républicain français, en soulignant que les agresseurs sont des citoyens français d’origine algérienne.

Enfin, une troisème catégorie d’explications a mis en évidence les différences majeures entre l’organisation et le fonctionnement du service religieux musulman et du service chrétien, dans le contexte du concept fondamental du mécanisme français: la laïcité.

La laïcité en France signifie l’égalité de toutes les religions (y compris les maçons, y compris les gens sans aucune religion), égalité mise en pratique par l’intermédiaire d’un dispositif institutionnel et législatif complexe.

Ce dispositif est en fonction pour tous les cultes chrétiens (catholiques, protestants, ortodoxes etc.), pour la communauté juive, pour les communautés maçoniques, mais il y a des fissures en ce qui concerne la communauté musulmane.

Et voilà pourquoi (nous allons citer les dossiers réalisés par les journalistes du quotidien Le Monde).

L’habilitation légale des imams est réglementé depuis 10 ans pour environ 2 000 mosquées et endroits consacrés à la prière en France.

A l’initiative du président Nicolas Sarkozy, on a créé le Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM) qui avait comme but de réglementer aussi les questions liées au corps des imams. Miné par les frictions internes entre La Grande Mosquée de Paris, proche d’Alger, L’Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF) proche des Frères Musulmans et Le Rassemblement des musulmans de France proche du Maroc, CFCM n’a pas pu réaliser le recrutement et le processus de formation des imams.

Les résultats. Seulement 10 pour cent des personnes qui officient en qualité d’imam en France sont français, selon les statistiques du Ministère de l’Intérieur. Environ 400 imams sont détachés et rémunérés par la Turquie, 225 par le Maroc et 120 par l’Algérie. Durant l’été passé, les mosquées ont sollicité 400 d’imams en provenance de pays musulmans pour assurer les prières à l’occasion du ramadan.

Du reste, il s’agit de prédicateurs élus parmi les croyants, grâce à leurs savoir du Coran ou des langues arabes, y compris des prédicateurs qui s’autoproclament l’être.

Quant à la hiérarchie des imams, elle n’existe pas. « Il n’y a aucun programme, aucun manuel. N’importe qui pourrait s’autoproclamer imam », voilà les explications fournies à l’ hebdomadaire L’Express en juin 2015 par Mohamed Moussaoui, président de l’Union des mosquées de France qui revendique 500 mosquées sur le territoire de la France, organisme qui s’efforce de réunir les imams et les confesseurs visant à en finir avec «le radicalisme qui défigure l’image de l’islam et des musulmans» (L’Express, 15 juin 2015).

En fait, les instituts qui se chargent de la formation des imams en France sont peu nombreux: l’Institut Al-Ghazali, géré par la Grande Mosquée de Paris et deux instituts gérés par l’UOIF à Seine-Saint-Denis et à Nièvre (Le Monde, 14 janvier 2015).

Tous ces éléments nous transmettent le fait que l’adaptation de la communication des médias visant à éliminer toutes ces aspérités est illusoire. Toute adaptation – non suivie de la part de l’autre camp d’un effort similare – est vouée à l’échec.

Plus encore. Les nouveaux médias contribuent en grande mesure au désordre du discours public, donc ils contribuent à maintenir les failles entre les groupes qui devraient coexister en partageant le même espace, sinon à les accroître.


Les nouveaux médias. Une nouvelle situation communicationnelle. Le tautisme

Lorsque l’Internet a été lancé en 1973, l’événement a été salué avec un enthousiasme unanime. Un juge à la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis estimait que le premier amendement de la Constitution américaine a triomphé dans le monde entier.

Le sociologue Anthony Giddens considère que dans le contexte de la mondialisation,

la technologie des comunications [qui donne naissance à la] proximité technologique, a fourni une nouvelle signification de l’identité mondiale. L’Internet renforce l’intégration mondiale. On aboutit ainsi à une hyperdétéritorialisation, à une communauté virtuelle mondiale et on arrive, de plus, au fait que la hiérarchie politique existante en ce moment est bouleversée. L’Internet est une technologie postmoderne (Giddens, in Curran, 2002: 171-72).

Très tôt, nous voilà obligés de faire face à un effet pervers omniprésent: le tautisme.

Ce néologisme a été inventé par Lucien Sfez, en combinant les termes tautologie et autisme. L’auteur a construit le concept par analogie avec la métaphore Frankestein grâce à laquelle

l’effort de la science cognitive et de l’intelligence artifficielle tend à consolider ce point de vue: nous ne savons plus quelle intelligence est le modèle de l’autre. Sujet et objet, celui qui produit et l’objet produit se confondent. (…) Appliqué à la communication, ce système aboutit à la confusion totale de  l’émetteur avec le récepteur. Dans un univers où tout communique sans connaître l’origine de l’émission, sans pouvoir déterminer la personne qui parle, le monde technique ou nous-mêmes, dans cet univers sans hiérarchies, en admettant qu’elles ne se sont pas mélangées, où la base devient le sommet, la communication est tuée par un excès de la communication. (Sfez, 1991: 15).

La manifestation la plus évidente de cette situation se présente sous la forme des réseaux de socialisation et de ce qu’on a nommé journalisme citoyen.

Avec une rapidité inouïe, les nouveaux médias ont tout bouleversé. Les nouveaux médias défient le fonctionnement des médias traditionnels (autant du point de vue financier que professionnel). Les nouveaux médias changent violemment les coutumes de consommation. Le consommateur se trouve transformé. Il n’est plus assiégé par les offres. Il s’est transformé en explorateur, en conquérant. Les nouveaux médias ont modifié les relations interpersonnelles, en les remplaçant de plus en plus avec des relations interpersonnelles entre des masques, entre des avatars, entre des identités virtuelles. En d’autres paroles, on a introduit, à-côté du monde physique, des univers parallèles peuplés de personnages sans corps, extraits de l’histoire, extraits du contingent.

Le conscient et le sous-conscient agisssent ensemble. La réalité et le rêve (ou la rêverie ou la projection) coexistent.

L’internaute, l’utilisateur de Facebook, prisonnier de la communication virtuelle, devient un acteur (ou un objet?) de la computer-mediated communications.

Ce qu’on appelle interactivité change d’une manière dramatique. Il n’est pas du tout évident quelles sont les directions, ni quels seraient les résultats, même si les formes de manifestation sont évidentes. Le terme « interactivité » suppose un sentiment plus fort de l’engagement de l’utilisateur par rapport aux textes médias, une relation plus indépendante par rapport à la source de la connaissance, l’usage individualisé des médias et une possibilité plus grande de l’utilisateur de choisir. Ces idées sur la valeur de l’interactivité naissent du discours populaire du néoliberalisme, qui traite l’utilisateur, en principal, en tant que consommateur. (Lister et alii, 2003: 20)

Ainsi, l’interactivité est vue dans la perspective instrumentale (ou fonctionnelle).


Les « social media ». Comunication privée ou communication publique?

Dans l’éventail des facilités technologiques fournies par les computer-mediated communications, il est nécessaire de distinguer d’une manière tout à fait terrestre, entre les possibilités suivantes: le site officiel d’une institution, qui appartient à la sphère Public Affairs, e-mail, blog, (compte) Facebook /Twitter.

Il est évident que le site d’une institution appartient au domaine de la communication publique officielle, qu’il appartient aux modalités de la communication d’une institution (= Public Relations). La source est une source officielle, le contenu des informations est public (s’adresse au public, éventuellement par l’intermédiaire de journalistes appartenant aux médias classiques qui emploient ces informations en tant que sources directes: une source officielle contactée directement).

Dans ce contexte, selon les standards de la communication publique, ces informations (au moins, dans la perspective des PR americaines) doivent être caractérisées par promptitude, exactitude, elles doivent être complètes et claires. Bref, il est nécéssaire, conformèment aux standards professionnelles / éthiques de l’information, que les informations diffusées dans ces circonstances soient vraies.

Il est évident que l’e-mail appartient à la sphère de la communication privée qui se déroule entre deux personnes privées. Tout à fait semblable à la lettre traditionnelle écrite sur papier, mise dans une enveloppe timbrée et envoyée par les services de la Poste. Tout comme la conversation téléphonique. Selon les standards d’un Etat démocratique, la communication privée est inviolable. Pour nous exprimer carrément. Aucun tiers n’a le droit d’avoir accès à cette communication. Sont  exceptées les situations qui confèrent le droit à certaines institutions, selon les dispositifs législatifs, d’avoir accès à ces communications.

C’est dans ce point que paraissent des tensions, sous les pressions du phénomène terroriste et du crime organisé.

On demande des lois Big Brother qui donnent le droit à certaines institutions de stocker des données privées et d’avoir accès à des communications privées.

Par rapport au passé, appelons-le moderniste, c’est seulement le dispositif technologique qui a changé (évolué). Maintenant, il s’agit de contrôler le serveur, la banque de données des utilisateurs qui se trouve au fournisseur de services.

Avec le blog et avec le compte Facebook, la situation se complique. La valeur de vérité de la communication devient en quelque sorte relative, et même nulle.

Mais il est hors de doute que le blog et le compte Facebook appartiennent à la sphère de la communication publique.

Parce que n’importe qui peut avoir accès au contenu de la communication. Et ensuite. Dans les pays avancés, les institutions habilitées réagisssent avec promptitude face à des messages lancés sur ces réseaux, qui, par leur contenu, ne respectent pas les lois.

Davantage encore. L’exactitude de l’identité de l’émetteur, ainsi que l’exactitude éthique (la bonne volonté, l’hônnêteté, la vérité) deviennent relatives et on pourrait soupçonner même des tentatives de manipulation.

Du point de vue technique, X pourait construire un blog / un compte Facebook au nom de quelqu’un d’autre. Dans cette circonstance, nous avons affaire à fraude d’identité. Fraude / usurpation qui, dans le monde réel, entraîne des sanctions selon la législation.

Il y en a encore du relativisme (positif mais surtout pernicieux), selon la situation. Si celui qui lance le blog / le compte Facebook est, par exemple, un journaliste bien connu, son entreprise devrait représenter une prolongation de son activité au sein de son institution. Une prolongation de son activité de communiquer avec son public (avec l’ajout de l’interactivité / du débat). Rien de mal dans cette circonstance.

Mais si l’émetteur est un personnage ayant une position politique, dans le système judiciaire ou dans l’administration, cette position de communication publique se transforme en tricherie, en essai de manipulation, en déficience blamable d’hônnêteté et en mépris envers les citoyens.

Ce genre de personnage peut viser à obtenir des informations, voilà une possibilité. Quoique, dans cette situation technologique, l’identité de l’interlocuteur est incertaine.

Mais s’il vise à lancer des axes de communiction / de dialogue / de soi-disant débat, nous nous trouvons devant une fraude multiple.

Le personnage ne peut jamais invoquer ni l’avis personnel, ni la déclaration politique. Car n’importe quel personnage est indivisible. Il ne peut s’exprimer qu’au nom de l’institution dont il fait partie, et conformèment au rang qu’il détient.


Le journalisme citoyen et les «social media»

On pourrait dire, en suivant les considérations de certains sociologues médias americains, que la préhistoire de l’ainsi nommé «journalisme citoyen» (citizen journalism) est liée à l’apparition, à l’évolution et aux mutations que le phénomène CNN a imposées en télévision.

La révolution CNN s’est déroulée sur plusieurs plans: technologique (les satellites, la télévision câblée); format (télévision qui transmet exlusivement des informations en flux continu, une sorte d’agence de presse); écriture (multiculturalisme ethnique, racial et de genre); editing: la nouvelle réalité médiatique, «breaking news»; la collecte et la diffusion de l’information (souvent, l’emploi des images filmées / photographiée réalisées par des témoins, c’est-à-dire par des non-journalistes professionnels, donc par des citoyens).

Le citizen journalism, arguent les adhérents de ce nouveau « phénomène médiatique », en  profitant en premier lieu du support technologique offert par l’Internet (avec ses modalités de se manifester, y compris social media), propose un agenda alternatif, un agenda qui appartient vraiment à la communauté, un autre agenda, différent de celui de l’establishment.

En revanche, selon l’interprétation des syndicats de la presse française qui nous paraît correcte, citizen journalism est une source intarissable de la création et de la transmission des rumeurs, des insultes, des calomnies, des messages propagandistiques-manipulateurs en provenance de toutes sortes d’entités (officielles ou officieuses) ou d’entités subordonnées aux services secrets nationaux ou étrangers, amis ou ennemis ou… extra-galactiques.

Ce type de démarche de la communication publique contient des éléments de l’anarchie (= élimination des hiérarchies, de l’ordre) qui, avec d’autres phénomènes de tous sortes, contribuent à l’érosion irréparable des principes de la démocratie.

Au milieu de tous ces carrefours, surgissent pas mal de débats et de mesures adminstratives qui ne visent pas à contrôler le flux infini des messages qui circulent dans les réseaux de socialisation, y compris « les contributions des journalistes citoyens » mais, plutôt, d’amener ce phénomène de la technologie et de la communication dans une cohérence legislative qui soit comparable avec la législaton des médias classiques.



L’avènement de l’Internet signifie les possibilités de réaliser un processus de communication illimitée, autant en ce qui concerne un communicateur tout le monde qui, d’habitude, n’est pas qualifié, mais il est citoyen qui désire s’exprimer, quoique on ne sait jamais pour qui. Il désire s’exprimer sur n’importe quoi, dans tous les formats, à partir de contes de fées, jusqu’aux explications occultes des secrets les plus cachés de l’Univers, jusqu’aux jeux manipulateurs des services secrets – réminiscence de la guerre froide – et jusqu’aux théories de la conspiration. Il y a aussi des communicateurs, pas tout à fait tout le monde, qui visent surtout les racolages en masse de possibles adhérents. Ce sont des entités terroristes, qui, par ailleurs, émettent « en ligne » des exécutions de prisonniers et des enregistrement vidéo / selfie de l’attentat terroriste etc.

Cette situation communicationnelle a donné naissance à tous sortes d’effets pervers.

Les médias classiques, des institutions qui se sont consolidées du point de vue financier, doctrinaire et professionnel durant au moins deux siècles (en principal à partir de la fin du XIX-e siècle, le moment de la naissance des grandes agences de presse), des institutions qui avaient établi un rituel communicationnel avec leurs publics, mais aussi avec leurs sources, des institutions vouées à rapporter les informations, les analyses et les commentaires utiles en chaque moment à leurs publics / aux citoyens se sont trouvés, d’un coup, dans une crise existentielle et professionnelle profonde.

Leur rôle de médiation dans la société qui, en tout cas, n’enregistrait pas des résultats importants, si on prend en discussion la transformation de l’isolement communitariste à l’intérieur de la multiculturalité, est une fois de plus mis en discussion.

Tout d’un coup, les principes longuement débattus et expérimentés, les crédos sociaux, politiques et professionnels / éthiques se sont trouvés renversés, évités, ignorés, défiés, repoussés et altérés. Le but: leur disparition, leur dévaluation.

Qui sont les auteurs de ce coup? Est-ce que c’est la voix de la rue, les citoyens, les soi-disant citoyens? Eux-mêmes altérés par cette fausse source de l’enseignement alternatif devant laquelle le système « traditionnel » de l’enseignement, l’institution de la famille, les églises se sont trouvés impuissants?

Les blogs, les comptes Facebook, leur prolongation appelée par certains journalisme citoyen sont seulement des éléments isolés. Mais ces éléments se coagulent et se transforment en torrent ou en avalanche qui balaie tout.

Les principes, les relations interpersonnelles à l’intérieur de la société et au sein de la famille sont balayés, la MORALE elle-même, c’est-à-dire l’honnêteté, les sentiments d’amitié, de solidarité, d’entraide, se trovent à leur tour, mis en question. Relativisé(e)s.

En fin de compte, tout cela a conduit à une crise de la communiction dans une société qu’on a surnommée ironiquement « société de la communication » (soit-elle une société circonscrite à un Etat national ou à la communauté internationale), tout simplement parce que les lignes sûres, vérifiées et peut-être irremplaçables de la vraie communication ont été altérées.



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Live Drawing. Visual Performance Models in the Real and the Virtual Space

University of Bucharest



The domain of performance studies, closely related to cultural studies and communication theory, brings important fuel whenever we analyse the world of spectacle around us. Having its roots in theatre, the term performance names today various actions that are taking place in the real space, but also in the virtual space or, as we call it in common language, offline and online. This paper aims at analysing three different, exclusively contemporary types of performances represented by live drawing by comparison with and in respect of the theories in the field of performance studies. The specific questions posed by this research are: which is the message of these particular drawing performances? How much reflective and how much reflexive are live drawing performances? Which is the relation with the audience during the various live drawing sessions and, furthermore, does the audience become a voice when the performance takes place online whereas undertaking the traditional role of the silent audience in the everyday? The intimacy of drawing with an audience watching, this stripping and revealing the act of creation seems to be characteristics of live drawing today, at least in some form of performances.

Key-words: performance, live drawing, illustration, message, actors, script, roles, scene



“The performance itself would turn into the main text in Beckett’s playwriting. This is the theory. The practice, however, that is the actual adaptation of the interpretation to the written text does not always come easy.” (Cazacu, 2001: 84) This statement was made with respect to Samuel Beckett texts and is based on a well known truth: there is no written final copy of the works, since the writer modified his oeuvres during staging. He created, he modified the text as he worked with actors on stage. The text was configuring itself spontaneously, following the settled scenario in big lines, which resembled to having only a script. Likewise, the act of live drawing has a certain amount of spontaneity, still in a preconceived frame that gives the viewer a feeling of uniqueness and of assisting to giving birth from the part of the creator.

This paper aims at analysing three different, exclusively contemporary types of performances represented by live drawing by comparison with and in respect of the theories in the field of performance studies. The three case studies are:

  Layer tennis: drawing competition between Noper and Mig Reyes, held online, on the website http://www.layertennis.com/match/reyes-vs-noper/#intro, 2010;

  Live drawing with Pisica Patrata, Matei Branea and Noper, Galateca, BCU, 10.12.2011;

– Kim Jung Gi Workshop at the Art Institute of California Inland Empire, 02.08.2014, seen on website https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUFGe-4k6dU, Inland Arts YouTube channel.

We operate a distinction between performance art, with its definite characteristics and performance in a wide sense. Performance art became popular as a form of art at the beginning of the 1970’s, in close connection to the development of conceptual art (Goldberg, 2011: 7) and is different from the wider concept of performance as theatre or other forms of public expression that are sometimes analysed in anthropology and that are relatively as old as that human species. Both the first concept and the latter may be looked at and analysed by employing the working tools available in the field of performance.

When analysing the Indian performances, Milton Singer speaks of “cultural performances” as being composed of “cultural media” including more that oral expression, namely non linguistic media such as “song, dance, acting out, and graphic and plastic arts – combined in many ways to express and communicate the content of Indian culture” (Singer, apud Turner, 1988: 23). Turner explains that this is not the same message delivered in different forms through different media, but much more. They actually represent several messages that are thus delivered while each media leaves its own mark with its own message (Turner, 1988: 23, 24). Turner speaks of “performative reflexivity”, a concept derived from Barbara Babcock’s idea that most cultural forms “are not so much reflective as reflexive” (Turner, 1988: 24). Therefore, a performance is not only a mirror reflection but also a reflexive action that delivers a message on itself.

Thus, starting from the general theoretical frame of performance, the specific questions posed by this research are: Which is the message of drawing performances? How much reflective and how much reflexive are live drawing performances? Which is the relation with the audience during the various live drawing sessions and, furthermore, does the audience become a voice when the performance takes place online whereas undertaking the traditional role of the silent audience in the everyday? Is the audience not always active in offline performances? The spectators are often recording the performance to post it online later.

At present, the practice of performance is common and we tend to imagine that it is employed more frequently than previously. As there is no study available to look into this growth in volume, we may put forward the idea that this is a false perception given by the more intense communication and online social community present around performances. These phenomena have the role to amplify the echo of a performance and to make it present in the audience conscience. This audience is not necessarily a classic audience, like the one in the theatre, it is the audience present on social media. This happens in the online hosting entire performances but also nearly always reflecting offline performances by transmitting and commenting them. We will always learn online of an event scheduled down-town. It will have a dedicated page on Facebook, with updates, where those interested may exchange ideas and information, texts and images, audio and video recordings. Thus, the space where the performance takes place is determined in its analysis. Taking it to the extreme, we may regard any action as performance (Schechner, 2009: 25). It is no longer limited to the space of the stage or other set areas and the online space is also open for action at present. We may wonder whether dreams or thoughts are also a special type of personal, intimate performance.

Apart from the space, this analysis will also look into the concept of script as described by Richard Schechner. The scripts he is discussing are not modes of thinking, but patterns of doing (Schechner, 2009: 27). Since the drawing demonstrations are not accompanied by text, the process however follows a certain script. We may best see it in Kim Jung Gi’s practice, as his actions during a live drawing session have the repetitive force of a ritual. Schechner also gives a clearer definition of the script; in relation to drama, theatre and performance, the script is:

all that can be transmitted from time to time and place to place; the basic code of the events. The script is transmitted from person to person, the transmitter is not a mere messenger. The transmitter of the script must know the script and be able to teach it to others. This teaching may be conscious or through empathetic, emphatic means (Schechner, 2009: 72).

The actors in a performance are another element to be analysed in the discussion about the author, the performer and the audience. A performance will always incorporate the three. As explained by Schechner, a play may come to an end but the performance lives on through later communication such as discussions, debates and others (Schechner, 2009: 42).


First performance: Layer Tennis, an online live drawing demonstration 

Layer Tennis is an online performance consisting of a series of online live design events. The name of the performance unexpectedly brings together two terms of different semantic fields. “Layer” is an English word that means “stratum”, “coating” and, in computer software overlapping objects (image, text, vectorial elements, gradients and others, it indicates the transparent fields on which the elements of graphic design works are set on. “Tennis” comes from the popular sport. So this is a game of “tennis in layers”.

Layer 1 (Mig Reyes) – Image created during

the Layer Tennis competition, 2010 (photo credit



Layer 2 (Noper) – Image created during

the Layer Tennis competition, 2010 (photo credit



The matches are played online, with the support of several tools: video editing, animation, sound, photography, illustration, graphic design and many more, depending on the creativity and means available to the players. Two players pass folders from one to the other in real time, adding to and enhancing each other’s work. The two are at their homes, sitting in front of their personal computers, while the match and the entire communication take place online. The competition is global.

Each artist is allowed 15 minutes for his shot, and then the work is sent to the organisers who post it online, in real time, on the website of the match, and release it to the audience. A third participant, acting as a scriptwriter and commentator gives live explanations of the action, as it takes place. A match consists of an exchange of 10 works and, when it’s done, the audience (fans) vote online as well and the winner is announced. The playing system is similar to the sports one and is organised in qualification matches, quarter-final, semi-final and final matches. Season 4 took place in the autumn of 2014. Just as in sports, this gives way to habits and expectations: “we’re watching the match this Friday evening.”

Match related terminology belongs to sports discourse, thus maintaining a competition spirit similar to the one on an actual sports field. It includes “players”, “match”, “pass”, “fans” and, in the end, a “champion.”

Online communication takes place in the main social networking websites: Facebook and Twitter, as well as in videos describing the event posted on specific YouTube channels, similar to “promotional” or “promo” videos in television. The sports-like event is broadcast online but it is more than a basic competition with an audience. It brings together people from across the globe who are involved actively. Unlike the offline, the online gives a wider freedom of dissemination and expression, only that it happens behind the screen of your personal computer. Thus, the space where the performance takes place is the online space. The organisers’ internet website is the sports field where the match is played, while social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter are the grandstand. To all participants, this is more than a television screen showing an actual tennis match. Everybody is part of the action.

Layer 5 (Mig Reyes) – Image created during

the Layer Tennis competition, 2010 (photo credit



Layer 6 (Noper) – Image created during

the Layer Tennis competition, 2010 (photo credit



The actors in the game are: the players, the commentator, the organisers and the audience. But the event goes beyond the limitations of a sports competition with its performance features: the spectators are directly involved. They leave comments in real time and then vote to decide the winner: “well done, Răducu in the finals!!! best of luck this Friday”, a fan says on the Facebook page and she gets an instant answer from her favourite player: “thanks, Anca… not easy with the Americans.” But how are the actors represented? As names on a computer screen, next to some information and a description of their actions. Fans may get more information, again in the online, such as for example on the personal websites of the players, when they have one.

The main action of the performance consists of the layer creation process. They are put together in the 15 minutes granted for each material and then shown to the public and analysed by the commentator. Certain graphic elements are reused freely by the opponent in the following serve. The layers convey messages, include illustrations, photography, text. They form a dialogue and are more than mere decorative works. They can touch upon topics of general interest: politics, arts, aspects of daily life. However, for an efficient communication and to comply with the game rules, the message is condensed. The commentator gives a sample of his own analysis, but the spectators are free to their own interpretations.

The script according to which the entire event is performed is what gives a frame to the action, according to which each actor knows what he has to do, preserving nevertheless a considerable freedom of action. Both texts and drawings are created freely but the circuit in which the action takes place is known from the start and set by clear rules which fit into the definition of the script in Schechner’s terms described in the introduction of this study.

This performance has various types of effects. The most obvious might be its commercial nature, as the entire deployment is based on promoting an Adobe product (Adobe Creative Suites 5, the latest version of the software collection of tools for graphic design, video editing and internet application development). Another result would be the live creation of demos exemplifying what the products can provide. Just as in sports, the matches are bought, and branded with the sponsor’s logo. Adobe’s logo is everywhere.

Layer 7 (Mig Reyes) – Image created during

the Layer Tennis competition, 2010 (photo credit



Layer 8 (Noper) – Image created during

the Layer Tennis competition, 2010 (photo credit



The competition influences the image of the players as well. They promote themselves in their game, express their art, ideas and convey certain messages. At the same time, they set in motion an entire online social network which supports them throughout the process and votes for them in the end. “Vote for me on twitter with #lyt #noper. Thanks.” says the Facebook page set up by Noper, on of the players in the 2010 final as well as on his social networking pages. This network consists of acquaintances, the existing online group of friends as well as of an unknown audience, which simply attends an event and gets actively involved in it. The applause and cheering in an actual grandstand are represented here by commentaries and endless online conversations held on Messenger, Facebook and Twitter. The audience has its favourite players and fights for them, as they mobilise their own networks of friends to support their favourite player: “Such a compelling game played by the ilustratorus maximus NOPER against his American homonym: from Nicholas Cage to lubricant and trashing tattersall shirts. Let us gloriously vote for him, we say” can be read on the Facebook page of the Magazine Decât o Revistă. In the end is the winner the best or the most popular among online friends? Players turn into a sort of heroes within the communities watching their game. These communities may be virtual (spectators on Twitter, Facebook), as well as real (circle of close friends, work mates who are also online attendees, but also actually real through direct support given to the players).

The audience is mainly represented by international designers communities and people in related industries. A small part of the audience is represented by aficionados of such works and the players’ close circle of friends, the latter participating in the game more out of solidarity.

The performance Layer Tennis brings together several cultural areas.

It is first of all a form of artistic performance, although it is based on a commercial intention. The works created during the match are art works functioning together as a series. In evidence, an exhibition is organised at the end of the season, grouping the works.

Secondly, Layer Tennis is an event of the advertisement industry. It promotes work tools of the designers and matches them in a performance, as players or audience. It gives them the space and tool to perform in one way or another. The event nevertheless is organised and financed for a commercial purpose, that of bringing reputation to Adobe, the host brand. The values of such a performance (creativity, globalism) are, ideally, now associated with the brand. Adobe products become inspirational, in a process of live trial. What better advertisement for any product than a real demonstration of it capacities. The awareness objective is masterfully reached.

Thirdly, and probably not necessarily lastly, just as in the actual game, cultural layers are much greater in number. Layer Tennis is an online social performance set in action by the communities represented in networks such as Facebook, Twitter and such others. The audience gets together for an online social event. It has a unquestionable entertainment value and such events may be regarded as a form of future popular culture.

This type of performance may be subsumed to what Richard Schechner calls the “actual avant-garde”, “what is happening now”, productions that are new not in the sense that they would do away with existent taboos or might show the way, in conceptual or technical terms, to something unprecedented to the spectators (Schechner, 2009: 264). Schechner adds:

The work of current avant-garde is often excellent, virtuosic in its mastery of formerly experimental and risky materials and techniques. This mastery, coupled with a second and third generation of artists working in the same way, is what makes the current avant-garde classical. Over time, the historical avant-garde modulated into the current avant-garde: what were once radical activities in terms of artistic experimentation, politics and lifestyles have become a cluster of well known alternatives. Where once avant-garde fiercely opposed the bourgeoisie and the government, the avant-garde today is expecting financing, just as is the work. (Schechner, 2009: 264)


Second performance: Live drawing with Pisica Patrata, Matei Branea and Noper

A different type of visual performance was Live drawing With Pisica Patrata, Matei Branea and Noper at Galateca, BCU, taking place on 10.12.2011 within the event-project organised by ICR: 5 Arts in 5 Days. The performance consisted of a live drawing session, on an easel that the three artists shared.


 13  12
Empty scene The performance has begun


The space was demarcated from the very beginning by a theatre high stage, where the considerably wide easel was placed. The three actors had to go up stage to draw. In parallel, the action was recorded by a camera set on a second smaller easel and the images were projected in real time on another wall. The projection was an alternative for the audience to watch the on-going art show, but also for the three artists to observe the entire work. While each drew individually on their slice of paper on the large easel, they were checking the projection in order to see the evolution of the whole. The audience had its place, on some rows of chairs placed in front of the stage. The event took place in the art gallery of the Central University Library, BCU.

Although the live drawing session are regularly informal, often taking place in the street, in the public and open space of the city, this time the organisers chose to stage the creation. By doing this, at a formal level they brought it near the model of the theatre, with the performance taking place on the stage and the audience seated at its place. It was probably related to the topic of the project 5 Arts in 5 Days aiming at supporting and encouraging the new Romanian wave of graphic design and illustration art. On this background, taking the artists up on a stage may be read metaphorically: illustration is an art like all the others so it is entitled to a stage.

Artists at work


The message of the performance is directly related to the name of the event: 5 Arts, which again makes us think of the recognition of various forms of art. It is a daring initiative, entailing certain risks that were probably particularly undertaken by the organisers. The convergence of two different worlds, that of street artists and the formal classic world of the library, during the live drawing performance, resulted in unexpected images. The three artists took on stage cans of beer they drank out of while drawing and a bag of chips, a gesture more suited to the open space of the street or park or, maybe, to drawing in the privacy of one’s studio. One of them played music on his phone. The three openly discussed during the show, on stage, but not necessarily about the event; instead, they were catching up. There was also a moment when one of the artists came down stage and took a seat among the audience to talk to some of the spectators about the drawing or about how he felt about drawing live, after which he went back up stage and returned to his felt-tipped pen.

The audience on the other hand also behaved in accordance to the unexpected spirit of the event described. First of all, the participation in the event was very limited, although this type of events normally gathers a wide audience. Probably precisely the formal aspect of the action – its placing into a library – worked here against its popularity and kept away one of the most important elements of a performance: its audience. Nevertheless. The space worked into gathering an audience diverse especially in age, while the library was a familiar place to all, from children to older adults. Live drawing sessions often attract an audience not only out of curiosity but also because the artists are famous by their works and completely unknown as individuals. As their works circulate most of the time in the virtual online space, they have no opportunity of showing it as actors in action, while performing their work. The space of the library opened to a relatively new form of art, according to a comment on the event’s Facebook page: “Libraries are not only for reading!”


Third performance: Kim Jung Gi Workshop at the Art Institute of California Inland Empire, 02.08.2014

Kim Jung Gi is an artist from South Korea, known especially for his live drawing demonstrations. The artist manages to draw complex boards out of memory, with no photographic references or any other model, as everything is stored in his memory and reproduced on paper in real time. These performances are most of the time recorded and later shared online. The internet channels on which the artists delivers his creations are YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and his official website; they gather tens of thousands of viewers. Although this isn’t anymore attending the creation act as it is performed, the recording nevertheless bears the same value, as it preserves the idea that the drawing, the work was performed in front of an audience. It was an open performance with an audience.

In the performance selected for this analysis, Kim Jung Gi draw a board at the Sturges Center, in an event organised by the Art Institute of California Inland Empire on the 2nd of August 2014. It was published on the internet on the 29th of August 2014, on the YouTube Inland Arts channel and it had up to the present a number of 63.598 views

Neville Page, designer and television and cinema art director famous for his contributions to large Hollywood productions, was the host of the drawing session and his intervention was part of the entire performance. He had the role of introducing the audience to the notions of visual communication and then of introducing the artist. Once on stage, the latter performed his magic trick in drawing and ended with a session in which he explained his technique. Thus, the performance was complete. Page’s words described the similarities between a new-born learning how to speak and the language of drawing. In both cases, once you learn how to communicate, the act of communication is no longer important, it matters more what you say, the message one communicates. Page considered Kim Jung Gi a phenomenon of visual communication, due to his extraordinary capacity of performing everything from memory. As his drawings are figurative, his achievement is all the more commendable. During the first part of the demonstration, the artist only spoke through his drawing. Once he came up with his drawing tool, a sort of a pen similar to Eastern calligraphy tool, he communicated through his drawing board. Once he outlined part of this communication, the artist changed the register and continued with oral communication in which he analysed his drawing style and explained what was happening in his mind while he was drawing. After making a demonstration of actual drawing, he stopped to reveal another tier of his creating, that of his mental space. Each stage of the creative process was revealed to the audience. Instead of looking a sheet of paper with a drawing on it, the audience had the chance to contemplate a creation process and to understand what is behind creation.

The space of this performance is that of a classical conference: an audience hall and a stage on which is placed a lectern for the speakers / interpreters. The action begins in a traditional manner, with a discourse of a pseudo-star. Page is dressed, behaves and speaks in the most predictable way, in accordance to the space where he is. He acts as a master of ceremony. He addresses a number of questions to the audience and then later gives a live demonstration of what he just said. It turns out to be conference hosting a drawing demonstration – the entire act is a lesson, but a lesson different from the classical ones we all have seen in school. Page starts by speaking about visual communication, while Kim actually communicates visually and later explains how he manages to do so, revealing in his words the inner process of creating the drawing.



The three events analysed are regarded as performances in the general sense. They cannot be subsumed to performance art, as they have insufficient conceptual fuel. The three performances have no propaganda value and do not coagulate as artistic manifestoes. They seem to speak of the pleasure of drawing in itself, of decomposing oneself implicitly (in layer tennis and in the gallery drawing) and explicitly (as is the case of Kim Jung Gi).

The three drawing demonstrations bring this practice to the front stage, as it happens today: on the street, online or, classically, on paper. The novelty is brought rather by this staging, which is more related to the unpredictability of the action. We are used to admire drawing at exhibitions, in art books but to take part to their creation.

Returning to the questions addressed in the introduction of this study, we may conclude that the three performances are rather reflexive, they convey a message firstly on themselves, and they communicate themselves. This message speaks first of all on the practice of drawing, it contemplates it as it is today.

Out of the three performances analysed, the audience has a voice and supports the artist only in the online form – as it has a space dedicated to communication: the artist’s personal page, where the audience may also vote, while in the other cases it passively assists to the creation of the work.




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Interview with Noper (Radu Pop) on Layer Tennis (by Sînziana Șerbănescu, Bucharest, December, 2011)

What does Layer Tennis represent for you? In what category of events would you place it as an illustrator?

Layer Tennis is a competition sponsored by Adobe and organised by some really cool designers in Chicago. It is a great opportunity to make your name heard in the US, where this competition is very popular in the industry.


How were you selected in the competition? Who invited you to participate and how?

The competition has two levels, one for the stars, where the competitors are invited personally and one for less known artists, who play against each other on an invisible mode. I wasn’t invited by anyone, I entered at the lowest level and slowly made my way up to the finals.


Is there a script for the action?

Yeah. There are 10 serves and the first serve of each competitor takes 40 minutes, so that designers hit their stride and then the duration is reduced to 15 minutes per serve, while everything takes place live. They also have a sort of commentator selected from among the famous bloggers in Chicago who makes comments on the works.


What do you have to do exactly, as a competitor?

The first to begin has a slight advantage because he gives the tone of the game and the second needs to create something fresh in his own style on the theme proposed by the first competitor and so on.


Are the drawings a dialogue to each other or with the audience as well?

You have total freedom as long as, visually, your serve uses one element from the other guy’s serve.


Are the messages in the layouts composed for the competition or are they set before?

No, no. Everything is instantaneous, nothing is planned. The most you can say is “hey, let’s use more typo” or something like this, but apart from this… it’s spontaneous inspiration.


What is the involvement of the audience before, during and after the performance?

Americans are crazy about Twitter, everything happens on Twitter, it’s where they make live comments about the match, where they vote the winner afterwards.


What do the results of the event mean to you, to Adobe, to the audience?

Hm, I didn’t get any job after taking part in the competition, but I am more popular, with overall more traffic on noper.ro and it was fantastic during the competition. The audience shares in the same type of adrenaline and polarisation as in a box match, for example, only that here it is more theoretical.