A new PhD student started in InterDisc in September. His name is Pedro Poza Maupain. He is Spanish and has an Obel scholarship.
Coolest Power – A Linguistic-Discursive Differentiation of Denmark's Competitive Identity in the Spanish Media as a Part of the Common Nordic Brand
The purpose of the project is to investigate whether countries belonging to homogeneous world regions, such as Denmark as one of the Nordic countries, can attain a differentiating effect through media portrayals that will manage to distinguish them from their neighbours. From a theoretical standpoint the project combines nation branding/competitive identity theories and discourse theories. It will therefore focus on linguistic-discursive functionality and the way in which Spanish media present Denmark as a leading Nordic welfare state. The research will mainly involve a review of these media portrayals, as well as interviews with their authors.
Denmark can be considered in many ways a nation branding dream come true, especially when using Anholt's revised definition of the term "competitive identity", which also includes political, socio-economic and socio-cultural factors. And post-crisis Spain is definitely one of the most suitable stages when it comes to analyzing both how Denmark is perceived abroad and how it is and should be branded. The Nordic countries international reputation as welfare states and peaceful, harmonious and prosperous societies clearly impresses the Spanish media. Danish and Nordic achievements are highly and very often praised in TV-programs, newspapers, magazines and books, especially since Spain was extremely hard hit by the 2008 global economic crisis, and political instability, high unemployment, budget cuts and corruption scandals became the new reality. This situation stands strongly in contrast with the Nordic countries’ success at overcoming the crisis, a fact that has actually turned them into role models in the eyes of the Spanish media.
While belonging to the common Nordic brand must undoubtedly be seen as an advantage in this context, a lack of a distinct national identity can also be hampering, as the Danish brand seems to fade into the all-encompassing Nordic superbrand. One must not forget that other Nordic countries are often also Denmark’s most direct competitors in several fields. So when it comes to nation branding this is a serious and usual problem for countries from homogeneous world regions. Due to their many similarities in terms of culture, language, ethnicity, history and politics they are often confused with each other, overshadowed by their neighbours, or presented as an undifferentiated block, the whole resulting in an obvious deterioration of their potential. As Dinnie states, ”a powerful and positive nation brand can provide crucial competitive advantage in today’s globalized world”. It seems therefore vital for Danish interests to attain, as this project intends to do, an in-depth knowledge of how Denmark is perceived abroad.
Discourse analysis will be integrated with competitive identity theories to study how and with what function(s) the Spanish media use language and images when describing Denmark and the Nordic region. Special attention will be paid to how the apparent success of the Nordic welfare model is set against the present and much less encouraging situation of Spain. The main theoretical approach will take on the wider view of critical discourse analysis as an open conceptual framework as opposed to a rigid ideologically-biased method.