“We may face the risks” … “risks that could adversely affect our face.” A corpus-assisted discourse analysis of modality markers in CSR reports
In recent years, CSR disclosures have increased exponentially. The genre combines informative and promotional purposes, data and reputation-building. Through a corpus-assisted discourse analysis of CSR reports issued by energy companies, this study tries to unveil how words are non-neutrally used to construct discourses and views and increase profitability. The paper focuses on verbal markers of forward-looking statements, elements conveying modality and authorial stance, in order to investigate their contribution to the creation of an ethical image. The analysis highlighted that self-promotion is enacted through mainly optimistic projections, stressing a constant commitment and communicating an already optimal performance, while relativising risks.