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‘Gregory Dry’: Parody and the morality of brand

  • Gregory Kohler (a1)

While Bakhtin's (1981) notions of voicing, double voicing, and ventriloquation have been applied extensively in linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics, only a few scholars have engaged with his related notion of parody. This article examines how a Sardinian manager uses parody in an oral narrative to construct and contest moralities surrounding personal and corporate identities. Through an analysis of both the story and the storytelling event, I show how this manager uses parody to better align himself with the ideals of his company and to frame his relationships with his employers and with the market more generally. In particular, my analysis focuses on how managers discursively create moral hierarchies of value that become key resources for understanding their stance in relation to the competitive dynamics of their industries. Parody in storytelling thus proves to be a crucial analytical tool for understanding brand and branding strategies. (Parody, narrative, brand, Italy, discourse analysis)*

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Gregory Kohler, University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Sciences Plaza A, Irvine, CA 92697, USA
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An earlier draft of this article was first presented in November 2013 at a panel organized by Sabina Perrino and myself entitled ‘Narrating corporations: Identity, power, and authority’ at the 112th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Chicago. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1321846. My deepest thanks go to Federico and my other informants in Sardinia who agreed to be audio-recorded for this project. Without their assistance, this project would not have been possible. This work has benefited greatly from comments offered by the editor of Language in Society, Jenny Cheshire, to whom I am very thankful. I wish to also thank Linda Koh, Michèle Koven, Bill Maurer, Keith Murphy, Sabina Perrino, Alan Rumsey, Greg Urban, and the two anonymous reviewers. Any remaining infelicities are, of course, my own.

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