Discursive (de)-legitimation strategies in the media - a case study of Finnish co-operation negotiations during the economic downturn in 2008-2015

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
The broad objective of this research is to understand legitimacy and specifically the process of legitimation. The aim is to further the existing organizational literature on legitimacy and legitimation processes by researching discursive legitimation strategies used to legitimate or de-legitimate co-operation negotiation announcements in the Finnish media during 2008-2015. In addition, the study aims at finding distinguishing features between the media outlets. This research is a qualitative case study analyzing a collection of news articles. The news articles were extracted from two Finnish media outlets, Helsingin Sanomat and Yle. To build an understanding of the legitimation process, a critical discourse analysis as a research method was applied. The analysis was divided into two distinguishing parts. First, a comprehensive thematic analysis was used to organize the news articles into specific themes based on the discussed issues and topics in the media materials. During the final step, an overall textual analysis was conducted to understand how the themes were used for discursive (de)-legitimation purposes. The findings, based on the critical discourse analysis, support the legitimation strategies and their particular discursive features that were revealed in previous literature. The strategies, from most common to least common are: rationalization, authorization, moralization, normalization, and narrativization. All of the strategies were used in various ways to establish legitimacy or illegitimacy of the co-operation negotiation announcements. It seems that rationalization and authorization has an important role in (de)-legitimating the co-operation negotiation announcements, as two-thirds of all cases are based on those. In addition, a new connection between factual news articles and taken-for-grantedness was found. Finally, the differences between Helsingin Sanomat and Yle were highlighted and a general structure for constructing a news article about co-operation negotiations was former. The most distinguishing difference was that Helsingin Sanomat used (de)-legitimation strategies multiple times more often compared to Yle.
Thesis advisor
Franck, Henrika
legitimation process, legitimacy, discursive legitimation strategy, critical discourse analysis, media, institutionalized practice, co-operation negotiations
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