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Social Semiotics as Praxis

Social Semiotics as Praxis: Text, Social Meaning Making, and Nabokov’s Ada

Paul J. Thibault
Volume: 74
Copyright Date: 1991
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsm45
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  • Book Info
    Social Semiotics as Praxis
    Book Description:

    Focusing on Nabokov's Ada, the author rescues semiotics from terminal formalism by developing a conception of social semiotics that is a form of both social action and political praxis.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8345-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Part I Introduction

    • Chapter 1 The Conceptual Framework of a Praxis–Oriented Social Semiotic Theory
      (pp. 3-28)

      Semioticsmeans very generally the study of signs, and in the “more rigorous definition” proposed by Umberto Eco (1976: 4) this is taken to include a definition of “sign-function” and “a typology of modes of sign-production.” The conceptual framework of this book is a “social semiotic” one. The choice of the termsocial semioticrather thansemioticis determined by my conviction that it is time the theory and practice of semiotics began to think beyond its idealistic foundations as the “science of signs” and hence beyond its self-identification with many of the foundational ideological assumptions of Western culture. These...

  7. Part II Contextualization Dynamics and Insider/Outsider Relations

    • Chapter 2 The Sociosemantics of Quoting and Reporting Relations
      (pp. 31-67)

      It is commonplace in discussions of narrative discourse to refer to various features of narrative “representation” with the following classifications: direct, indirect, and free indirect speech and thought. The prevailing view is that in complex narratives these linguistic forms alternate throughout the text in order to establish a system of contrasting “points of view.” The central difficulty with concepts like “representation” and “point of view” is that they tend to preserve the ideologically dominant myth that meanings and discursive subject positions lie “behind” language and necessarily correspond to some extralinguistic or extrasemiotic domain of “concepts,” “consciousness,” or “reality,” whose relationship...

    • Chapter 3 Contextual Dynamics and the Recursive Analysis of Insider and Outsider Relations in Quoting and Reporting Speech
      (pp. 68-89)

      Halliday’s account of the principal types of projection, which we examined in the previous chapter, provides an excellent survey of the various types of quoting and reporting relations and their various transforms. However, this account remains an idealized description because it does not explain how these lexico-grammatical forms are immanent in discursive practice. Halliday’s semantically oriented functional grammar is useful for providing one of the important connections in my attempt in this chapter to relate an idealized functional lexico-grammatical description to its patterns of use in discourse. This must always be done against a background of idealized categories and relations...

    • Chapter 4 Redundancy, Coding, and Punctuation in the Contextual Dynamics of Quoting and Reporting Speech
      (pp. 90-116)

      We have considered in previous chapters the notion of the clause as the microlevel realization of a social act-type. The clause, functionally interpreted, is a mode of social action, which presupposes and/or entails a plurality of indexical values in its multiple contexts-of-use. This characterizes the dialogic nature of the utterance as a mode of social action and transaction. Volosinov, as we have seen in chapter 3, has described the lexico-grammatical forms of quoting and reporting speech as “an objective account”¹ of “the active reception of another’s speech and its transmission in a bounded context” (1973: 117). Volosinov’s description suggests how...

  8. Part III Intertextuality

    • Chapter 5 Text, Discourse, and Intertextuality
      (pp. 119-147)

      The distinction between text and discourse cannot be adequately demonstrated with reference to the level of the formal lexico-grammatical realization of textual meanings, disjoined from social practice. In the conceptual framework of social semiotics, language is not a formal, rule-bound system but a resource for making, realizing, and enacting context-dependent social meanings. Patterns of social action and interaction are related to each other in regular, limited ways according to the demands of specific social situations. Language is then a resource for getting things done by enacting both the social activity-structures and the thematic formations that work to define and maintain...

    • Chapter 6 Intertextuality, Social Heteroglossia, and Text Semantics
      (pp. 148-176)

      In the previous chapter I argued that the construing of a syntagmatic intertextual link between two (or more) texts occurs on the basis of the paradigmatic relations of equivalence and contrast that are activated. Dialogic relations of sameness and difference among social discourses, thematic relations, and activity-structure types are constructed against a background of intertextual meaning relations. The cohesive chain interaction analysis in chapter 5 shows that particular lexico-semantic relations are globally distributed and copatterned in specific and typical ways in both excerpts. We have also seen that more is at issue than the similar copatterning of lexico-semantic cohesive chains...

  9. Part IV Subjects, Codes, and Discursive Practice

    • Chapter 7 Social Meaning Making, Textual Politics, and Power
      (pp. 179-214)

      In this chapter I attempt to develop a critical neomaterialist social semiotic account of ideology and discursive practice. My starting point in this discussion is Gramsci’s formulation of the practical and epistemological difficulties that have beset this problematic concept:

      An element of error in the consideration of the value of ideologies appears to me to be owed to the fact (a fact that is, however, not casual) that the nameideologyis given both to the necessary superstructure of a determinate structure and to the arbitary lucubrations of determinate individuals. The inferior meaning of the word has become extensive, and...

    • Chapter 8 The Neomaterialist Social Semiotic Subject
      (pp. 215-246)

      The problematic of the opposition between language and social situation was first introduced in chapter 6. The effect of this opposition is to represent the subject as a unified, self-evident category in relation to the “objectivity” of a continuous, unified, and stable social Real. This enacts the subject/object split that I discussed in chapter 2. This is not a necessary consequence of the relation between language and the social. Rather, it is a consequence of a specific strategy of punctuation, which proposes a disjunction between the individual and the social. It is a Lockean conception of the social contract through...

  10. Appendix 1
    (pp. 249-253)
  11. Appendix 2
    (pp. 254-255)
  12. Appendix 3
    (pp. 256-257)
  13. Appendix 4
    (pp. 258-282)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-294)
  15. Name Index
    (pp. 297-299)
  16. Subject Index
    (pp. 300-303)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-306)