Visual and Multimodal Research Forum – 9th March

The Visual and Multimodal Research Forum is a student run platform for academic discussion on multimodality and open to all postgraduate research students and other researchers at UCL Institute of Education and elsewhere. Participation is free. Please contact Sophia Diamantopoulou, Forum Coordinator, at for any queries.

Date: Monday 9th of March, 5:00-6:30 pm

Venue: London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald Street, WC1N 3QS

The archaeology of a new multimodal genre: ‘Platform of values’ texts from public authorities and organizations in Sweden

Dr. Anders Björkvall, Associate Professor in Scandinavian Languages at the Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University

In the ‘platform of values’ genre the core values of an organization are presented. Since the early 21th century this genre has become salient in the genre repertoire of Swedish public authorities – an unprecedented change in the historically stable genre repertoires of such authorities. These texts aim to influence the attitudes and behaviour of employees rather than to explicitly regulate the core activities of the authorities. This is achieved through an elaborate use of language, but significantly also by employing visual resources. In fact, the visual mode seems to be apt for the management of state employees in a situation where this can no longer be done through overt coerciveness (cf. Mulderrig, 2011).

The following questions are addressed in the presentation:

  • How can the systematic and in this context new use of visual resources in the ‘platform of values’ genre be understood from a critical perspective?
  • How can this emerging genre be analysed in relation to other genres in the public and private sector, but also in relation to economic and political changes, e.g. New Public Management? Or, more specifically, which are its historical and contemporary intertextual relations to other genres and texts?

Accordingly, the paper will also touch upon methodological issues in the field of multimodal discourse analysis, in particular those related to multimodal genre analysis (e.g. Machin and van Leeuwen, 2007; van Leeuwen, 2005; Kress, 2010; Bateman, 2008; Hiippala, 2014) and diachronic changes in the semiotic landscape (e.g. Bezemer and Kress, 2008; O’Halloran 2014). The examples come from ‘platform of values’ texts from state institutions such as museums and the National Board of Health and Welfare (for example along with a few ‘vision’ and ‘value’ texts from the private sector and schools.