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“Russians are very sweet and nice”: a corpus-assisted multimodal discourse analysis of the representation of people in online travel reviews about Moscow

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Abstract

Published
Publication date17/06/2020
Number of pages1
Pages40
Original languageEnglish
EventCorpora and Discourse International Conference 2020 - online, United Kingdom
Duration: 17/06/202019/06/2020
Conference number: 5th
http://corporadiscourse.com

Conference

ConferenceCorpora and Discourse International Conference 2020
Abbreviated titleCADS 2020
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period17/06/2019/06/20
Internet address

Abstract

The paper explores how guests and hosts are represented in online travel reviews about Moscow.
Tourism provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the sociocultural background of other nations and potentially to improve international relations. Moscow, the capital of Russia, is sometimes viewed as an unfriendly or unsafe destination and the Russian Government aims to increase the popularity of the city. However, there are concerns that modern tourism discourse contributes to the maintenance of asymmetrical guest-host power relations. Guests are often accused of consumerism while hosts are frequently backgrounded or represented as servants or cultural markers. Such representation can lead to client-servant attitude and even cause
discrimination against hosts.
While online travel reviews are considered an important genre of tourism discourse, most studies analyse the representation of people in promotional or media discourse. Considering that multimodality is an integral feature of tourism discourse and that the analysis of discourse patterns allows exploring the meanings widely shared by the society, the study utilizes a corpus-assisted multimodal approach by analysing the representation of people in headlines, texts, images and image captions of a corpus of online travel reviews.
The analysis corroborates previous conclusions that guests tend to be represented as
consumers enjoying themselves while hosts are perceived as friendly servants. However, the study provides evidence that tourists can background not only hosts but also themselves or other tourists. Moreover, the results reveal that in contrast to promotional and media discourse, guests can also portray themselves as active, solving problems while sometimes representing guests as rude or unwelcoming. The results also show that the representation of people can vary across the modes of the same document.
The study concludes that user-generated tourism discourse reveals a complex picture and can express resistance to the dominant institutional imagery.