Comparing the symbolic and informational effects of language use in ethnic targeted communications strategies

Ellen E. Touchstone, Scott Koslow, Prem Shamdasani

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paper

Abstract

Prior research has approached the use of ethnic languages in subcultural communication settings as either a symbol to invoke accommodation or as a method of communicating information efficiently. This research combines the two traditions by showing that the symbolic and informational effects of language usage are not independent. When ethnic language dominant immigrant consumers become confused during complex service encounters, they look for contextual cues to infer meaning. These cues may go in favor of the service
provider if the consumer interprets him or her as accommodating, or it may go against the service provider if the consumer interprets him or her as being discriminating. A field study on Hispanic immigrants in Los Angeles was conducted to explore these language related effects. The implications are that failing to provide services in Spanish may lead Hispanic immigrant consumers to infer a racist intent, even if none were intended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267
Number of pages1
JournalAdvances in Consumer Research
Volume26
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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