Reflections on the Function of National Images in Intra- and Intercultural Communication

Jens Allwood (1)
(1) Immigrant Institute, c/o Småtuvegatan 12, 431 69 Mölndal, Sweden , Sweden


This paper presents an analysis and some reflections on the nature of national-ethnic images (mostly visual) in intercultural and intra-cultural communication. We discuss some of the functions and possible principles of national-ethnic images for “soft power” and “national branding”. The discussion is illustrated by examples of positive and negative self- and other-images from different nations with different purposes and the images are discussed in relation to their level of concreteness or abstraction and the types of signs they contain. Examples of historical changes in national images are given and comparisons between the images of different nations are made. The purpose of the article is to increase understanding of national images as one of the mechanisms through which cultural attitudes can be constructed.

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Jens Allwood
(Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Jens Allwood, Immigrant Institute, c/o Småtuvegatan 12, 431 69 Mölndal, Sweden


Jens Allwood is active as a researcher and professor emeritus in projects at the University of Gothenburg. He is professor of communication studies at Strömstad Academy and part owner of the company Communication Development. He is director of the Marston Hill Intercultural Center for Quality of Life, chairman of the board of the Immigrant Institute and editor in chief of the Journal of Intercultural Communication. He has worked as a researcher and teacher in linguistics, specializing in semantics, pragmatics, corpus linguistics, multimodal communication, and intercultural communication. He has coordinated and participated in a large number of national and international research projects in semantics, pragmatics, corpus linguistics, studies of spoken language, multimodal communication, intercultural communication and development of research, and research education. He has more than 250 publications. At the University of Gothenburg, he has been the chairman of the department of linguistics and director of the interdisciplinary center SCCIIL (semantics, cognition, communication, information, interaction, language)

Allwood, J. (2021). Reflections on the Function of National Images in Intra- and Intercultural Communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 21(2), 1–16.

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