Linguistics: David Jones and the changing nature of department stores
Ode to a lost icon: David Jones and the changing nature of department stores
University of New South Wales, Australia
The shift to online shopping – pre-Covid – has had a dramatic impact on the retail landscape, but some retailers have weathered this storm more successfully than others. This presentation provides a case study of one such retailer, David Jones, which has been a long-term feature of the retail landscape in Australia, and such an icon of the culture that it is the subject of a novel, a musical, and a movie.
Using Spatial Discourse Analysis (Ravelli and McMurtrie, 2016) and the concepts of discourse, design, production and distribution (Kress and van Leeuwen, 2001) the article compares the key attributes which defined David Jones in the past, how those attributes have been disrupted, how the store has responded to those disruptions, and why its responses seem to have been less effective than those of some of its competitors.
Some of the description is anecdotal, using personal experience to demonstrate what the store stood for in the past (at least to compliant shoppers/users), while also arguing that multimodal approaches have an important contribution to make in revealing some of the reasons why conventional stores now struggle so much. Links are drawn with the related field of organization studies (see for example, Hoeller et al, 2019). As Hoellerer et al say (2017: 6), the inter-relation of institutions and multimodality is fundamental, as institutions ‘govern the use and effect of multimodal texts’ but also are ‘constituted multimodally’.
Hoellerer, M.A., Daudigeos, T, and Jancsary, D, eds. (2017) Multimodality, Meaning and Institutions.Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.
Hoellerer, M.A, Van Leeuwen, T, Jancsary, D, Meyer, R.E., Andersen, T.H. and Vaara, E. (2019) Visual and Multimodal Research in Organization and Management Studies. London: Routledge
Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (2001) Multimodal discourse: the modes and media of contemporary communication, London: Arnold.
Ravelli, L. and McMurtrie, R. (2016) Multimodality in the built environment: Spatial Discourse Analysis,London and New York: Routledge.