Hegemonic signification from cultural semiotics point of view

Andreas Ventsel

Abstract


This paper attempts to integrate discourse theories, mainly the theory of hegemony by Essex School, and Tartu–Moscow School’s cultural semiotics, and sets for itself the modest task to point to the applicability of semiotic approach in political analysis. The so-called post-foundationalist view, that is common for discourse theories, is primarily characterized by the rejection of essentialist notions of ground for the social, and the inauguration of cultural and discursive characteristics (such as asymmetry and entropy; explosion; antagonism; insurmountable tension between organization and disorganization, regularity and irregularity, etc.) into the wider social scientific paradigm. Customarily, those characteristics have been attributed to contingent or peripheral events and phenomena that by nature do not belong to the social structure proper. Grounds for such ‘groundless’ contingencies are found in philosophy (Marchart), or for instance from the psychoanalytic notion of affect (Laclau). Many discourse theorists proceed here from Derrida’s position that in the process of signification there is an overabundance of meaning which renders final closure impossible (Howarth; Glynos). However, it seems that despite placing communication at the heart of their conceptions of discourse, the communicative character of constructing power relations remains undertheorized in those conceptions. This article attempts to approach the above mentioned problem by way of the concepts of communication and autocommunication
(Lotman). The outcomes stemming from the latter are unavoidable,
since the result of any possible research (text) itself belongs to culture or a larger discourse and opera tes as the organizing function of the latter. Hence, research practice and its results always need to be looked at as mutually affecting each other.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/SSS.2011.39.2-4.04





SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: sss@ut.ee. Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia