Reading Randviir

Randviir, Anti 2001. Sociosemiotic perspectives on studying culture and society. Sign Systems Studies 29(2): 607-626.

As mentioned above, in the contemporary semiotic discourse it has become common to distinguish between different 'subsemiotic' disciplines according to the objects dealt with (e.g. the general situation in semiotics as currently concerned with to three main fields labeled as cultural semiotics, biosemiotics and sociosemiatics). The structure of these fields is organized according to a more subtle differentiation between research objects (e.g. in the general area of cultural semiotics we can find literary semiotics, semiotics of theatre, semiotics of advertising, cinema, etc.). There are virtually no limitations to the branching of semiotics in this manner and therefore we can even come across such terms as semiotics of traffic signs or refrigerator semiotics (see, e.g., Vihma 1995). (Randviir 2001: 608)
When I first tried reading this article back in 2010, I misread "refrigerator semiotics" as a metaphor for subsemiotics, e.g. that semiotics of taro cards, semiotics of the kitchen, etc. are like refrigerator magnets (attachable, disposable, curious, and practically irrelevant). Semiotics of traffic signs has been published in a special issue of Semiotica. My own concern lies with "nonverbal semiotics," which seems to have roots and growths in almost every subfield of semiotics. It fits into sociosemiotics because nonverbal communication is a social phenomenon, it fits into cultural semiotics because of intra- and intercultural differences in behaviour (not to mention my concursive project), and it fits into biosemiotics because bodily behaviour has been studied extensively by so-called "human ethologists" (e.g. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Desmond Morris and Konrad Lorenz to a degree). There's also some confusion whether it should be called nonverbal semiotics, semiotics of behaviour, or praxeosemiotics, etc.
Even if we have posed studying of meaningful units and artifacts in sociocultural settings and communication chains of different types of integrated sign systems as the broad task of sociosemiotics, still the problem remains how to delimit both the units of study as well as the contexts of their emergence. Thus, an attempt should be made to find anwers to three main sets of essential questions: (a) what are the principal starting points from which to find meanings and meaningful structures; (b) what are the methods of studying these meanings and meaningful structures; (c) what is or are the things to be studied. (Randviir 2001: 611)
These are actually very difficult questions to answer. I'll try them out on what I view my "concursive study" to be about at this moment. (a) Find "meanings and meaningful structures", or descriptions of nonverbal behaviour, communication and other related phenomena in literature, e.g. "He [Montag] knew she [Mildred] must be frowning in the dark." in Bradbury (1953: 39). (b) Collect these descriptions and other related mentions or discussions from any given piece of work under study and ask simple-minded questions, e.g. How could Montag know without looking at her that she must have been frowning? Can people actually guess facial behaviour from speech activity? Then try to give explanations that follow from meticulous analysis of available scientific literature. Build towards using semiotic theories to explain these phenomena, e.g. Montag must have known Mildred's baseline, speech does contain paralinguistic cues to facial behaviour, etc. (c) In the end, concursive study is not only about how language can be used for referring to nonverbal phenomena but, in a general sense, how different authors understand or imagine these to operate. In the end it seems like an epistemological undertaking, an investigation of the ways in which people make sense of nonverbal behaviour.
In literature on semiotics we occasionally meet the term socialness. Among others a collection of articles edited by Steven H. Riggins (1994a) could be mentioned, that is based on the standpoint that "objects are a cause, a medium, and a consequence of social relationships" (Riggins 1994b: 1). Things, objects of common life are social in their essence, and, accordingly, there must be a criterion in semiotics that can be called socialness. It is interesting to note the similarity of such reasoning with Russian Formalism and the idea of turning attention to 'literariness' instead of 'literature'. (Randviir 2001: 612)
This might be the first time I meet 'socialness', but similar concepts are rampant in nonverbalism. For example, the distinction between personal/private and shared/public signs/behaviours, which leads to the issue sharedness). Nonverbal behaviour raises another question of -ness, namely of sign-ness (märgilisus): when or how does a bodily movement or stance become a sign? This is especially difficult to answer in relation with so-called "signs taken" or when one person observes another without the others awareness and infers whatever can be inferred in this manner. This might be what Randviir means by unilateral communication, but I'm not completely sure.
Sociocultural systems are reflective systems and the overt behavior revealed in culture traits depends on the covert behavior directed by cognitive structures such as image schemata, values, behavioral schemes, etc. Thus, the aim of understanding cultures is to describe them as systems of knowledge, intersemiotic sign systems, reflective systems. (Randviir 2001: 616)
Curiously I have not met mentions of these schemes and schemata in my previous readings.
The connection between a social organization, its sign systems and individual variations in uses of semiotic tools offered by a sociocultural system can be studied, based on culture and its semiotic mechanisms. In other words, the coherence of a social organization can be measured by the integration of its members' cultural behavior. This is a topic originating already from Noam Chomsky's linguistic competence and leading to the current notion of semiotic competence; nevertheless, it indicates the structure of social organizations as based on cultural processes. (Randviir 2001: 619)
In my seminar paper I made mention of nonverbal competence, a notion borrowed from Lange-Seidl. By now I have developed this notion further in terms of behavioural capital, althought much of it needs rephrasing and renaming before it could be presented to the public. I should probably read Chomsky, however repugnant I find him, if I wish to advance the idea of nonverbal competence in Lange-Seidl's sense.
Yet treatment of behavioral norms, culturally 'adequate' communication patterns, image schemata and the like is present in the majority of cultural texts, starting with myths, epics, lyrics, etc. Probably it would even be unfair to label some of such texts as 'scholarly pertinent', while letting others fall into the category of mere cultural phenomena. (Randviir 2001: 620)
Something similar could be stated about concursive passages - they are present in most literary texts and certain aspects surely in most cultural texts as well.
According to E. Gellner's statement, "nationalism is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent" (Gellner 1983: 1).
This nifty little quip might become handy in the one specific aspect of my work, namely pressures towards conformity (nationalism being one of them, especially in the contex of military training).

Randviir, Anti 2004b. Spatialization of knowledge: Cartographic roots of globalization. Semiotica 150(1-4): 227-256.

...semiosic globalization. (Randviir 2004b: 227)
Oh, wow. I can only imagine how useful this notion could be in, say, semiotics of internet (or "hypermedia"). Internet meme faces are definitely an aspect of semiosic globalization.
In actual cases, one has to differentiate among globalization, homogenization, and cultural imperialism, and again deep roots of consciousness industry together with its manners of blending these phenomena have to be taken into account. While today globalization is regarded as an anonymous process or one of those associated with non-governmental institutions, it can be associated with traditions of institutionalized socialization techniques practiced ever since the foundation ofor contemporary worldview was shaped in the Middle Ages. (Randviir 2004b: 228)
This made me think of how even internet memes, which are supposed to be completely anonymous, are progressively being usurped by institutions and organizations; and not only in the application side, e.g. businesses usind meme faces in their adverts, but on the production side as well, as is the case with so-called "forced memes" (these can be recognized by their tendency to last for a very short while, because intentionally produced memes lack the punching power and possibilites for transformation that accidental/anonymous memes have).
Mapping as a semiotic device has to do with meaningful organization of the environs on levels preceding vocal articulation (the first plan-like landscape representations date back to 20,000 B.C. (Delano Smith 1987: 57) - thus maps can be regarded as one of the most archaic and influential sign system. (Randviir 2004b: 230)
Hmm. Perhaps one of the earliest externalised sign systems, sure. I still imagine facial expressions and hand gestures to be older than any externalized means of signification.
...Eurocentric communication can often be seen as unilateral in the sense of changing the semiotic status of communication partners into that of an object or medium. (Randviir 2004b: 242)
Aha! So that is what unilateral communication means.

Randviir, Anti 2007. On spatiality in Tartu-Moscow cultural semiotics: The semiotic subject. Sign Systems Studies 35(1): 137-159.

Now, if we understand the constituents of the above-mentioned oppositions as dynamic structures (e.g. semantic fields, textual bodies, physical phenomena), we can, in brief, maintain that TMS has, to a large extent, been a school of the semiotics of space. Thinking in/about spheres has been customary in TMS, beginning from 'textual spaces' to individual's identity or, at the end, the semiosphere. (Randviir 2007: 139)
Space is frequently named as a universal of culture, and a handy tool in TMS's semiotic toolkit, so this should come os no surprise. And yet it somehow does. At least it is novel to see it stated explicitly.
As mentioned, 'texts' have often been replaced with 'textual spaces', 'cultures' with 'cultural spaces' already on the so-to-speak object-level in TMS (objects are defined with the preface of as even prior to analysis). Space, in this aspect, serves as a descriptor, and can be replaced by 'system', 'mechanism' (e.g., 'system of culture' as that of norms; cf., e.g., Zoljan, Cernov 1978: 155, 162(. This simplicity of replacing or loading objects of analysis with descriptive (or ideological, if you will) features prior to actual analysis has been admitted also by Lotman whose note can complement the above citation:
[...] space often obtains a metaphorical character by which metaphoricity is introduced into the language og investigative description. This is connected with that the notion of space itself contains a contradiction: it is filled with both mathematical and behavioural contents. This contradiction, in itself, may even play a supportive - creative - role, if it is recognized and purposefully used by the researcher. (Lotman 1986: 5)
Apparently, this understanding has made it easy for TMS to talk about the above-mentioned textual spaces, whereas such textual spaces may extend to the field of describing behaviour, even lives of people, in textual terms. 'Behavioural texts' are, like any other cultural phenomena, built on natural language and belong, thus, to the realm of secondary modelling systems (see Lotman 1977: 66). (Randviir 2007: 141)
Good to know, yet difficult to apply in any meaningful way. I'm sure I'll figure it out some day.
Keeping in mind the above-cited Lotman's opinion (Lotman 1986: 5), it therefore probably would not be wrong to suggest that the notions of text and space are mutually influential, if - in TMS - not even interdependent. This interdependence comes extremely vividly forth nowadays when modern technology itself forces to see and talk about the hypertextual space and the structure of texts are intertwined, and we talk about intertextual spaces, intersemiotic and intersemiosic communication. On the one hand, it may seem as if textual spaces have, by the development of modern technology (Internet, hyperspace, cyberspace, virtual spce, in fact also cosmic space), lost one of their originally inherent feature - that of being bordered and structured thereby. On the other hand, these developments can also be seen in the light that those boundaries have been and are being transformed from the disjunctive into conjunctive ones. (Randviir 2007: 142)
Hinting towards a semiotics of hypertexts? It is inevitable that semiotics will some day become the instrument for analysing tweets, shouts, comments, shares, likes, favorites, playlists, slideshows, etc. Semiospheric thinking could improve such discourse immensely.
The actual physical nature of culture bearers as carriers of both physical and semiotic culture traits adds a most pragmatic dimension to the so-to-speak textualised individuals in a cultural space. At the same time, understanding cultures and/or societies in textual terms shares the same countenance: we may view these objects as cultural spaces in which holds a certain linguistic, semiotic, textual, translational congruity (cf. the semiosphere). This the individual and the collective-cultural level come to share (several) features, and - from the semiotic perspective - we can apply a unified methodology to the micro- and macrolevel, treating our research objects as semiotic subjects. Semiotic subjects can be understood as semiotically bordered (semiotically distinct) and semiotically active physical organisms or conditionally distinct organisms. At the same time those distinct organisms must have a common share in order to be able to form sociocultural (or [inter-] textual) wholes connected through communication. That common share concerns knowledge of both rules and lexicon of semiosis; thus semiotic subjects can, again, be seen as internally cohesive informational spaces that exist in an interconnected (inter-) textual space. That common space presupposes also at least some differences in the stock of knowledge of its individual units - otherwise it would not be possible to talk about communication as exchange. (Randviir 2007: 143)
The definition of semiotic subject.
At this point, we can bind these two notions - umwelt and semiosphere - with the semiotic subject in a way as the former allows to describe relations between the semiotic subject and its environment. The latter makes it possible to deal with the analysis of semiosis intrasubjectively: treating culture as a textual macro-object, via the notion of semiosphere, we can describe the consistency or cohesive essence of a semiotic subject on the textual level (cf. e.g., Taborsky 1997), just as well as semiosic processes preceding the textual in the se-to-speak intrasubjective communication. It is vital to keep in mind the importance of autocommunication and that a semiotic subject may create its own semiosphere without being in interaction with other umwelten. Likewise, (sensory) communication between umwelten does not necessarily entail semiospherical aspects. (Randviir 2007: 145-146)
Extremely valuable for my purposes.
Lotman's claims inevitably lead to issues of the origin of that border in terms of its emergence either on the object-level, or its generation on the metalevel. In other words, be the boundary stake at either at object- or metalevel, it can only be outlined by contrasting an 'intrasemiotic' world to an 'outer-semiotic' world, and as far as the outer sphere be not semiotised, possibilities of differentiation are but disregarded. Thus the 'absolute border' simultaneously presumes and dismisses possibilities of describing a semiosphere, and makes the depiction of this border - as the semiosphere in toto - possible from a shifted (e.g. divine or extraterrestial) viewpoint that would enable to engage comparison of the internal and extra-semiospherical units. The original concept of the semiosphere is thus connected with understanding a semiotic reality of a community in totalitarian terms. (Randviir 2007: 146)
Alas, the argumentation for Randviir's statement that the semiosphere is a totalitarian concept.
We can but hypothesise the value of some ideas introduced by Lotman under the notion of the semiosphere, if the latter were replaced with 'the universe of the mind' as a scientific concept, not merely a title of Lotman's book in English (see Lotman 1990). (Randviir 2007: 148, footnote 3)
This might actually be a worthwhile endeaver. One peircean researcher suggested reading "representamen" instead of "sign" in Peirce's writings. Perhaps, in a similar vain, reading "the universe of the mind" instead of "semiosphere", one could yield another outlook or perspective on Lotman's later works. I can already imagine the possible benefits of comparing "the universe of the mind" with, for example, "the universe of discourse". Since mind has to do with much more than mere discourse, this could indeed be a route for specifying the place of embodiment and somatic signs in semiospheric thinking.
The application of textual approach to cultural phenomena seems to imply that semiotic structures, or semiotic subjects, can but be set in such an environment which is demarcated from such 'different organisations' in the manner as 'culture' is opposed to its outside. The combination of textualist and spatial vocabulary does not entail as categorical oppositions as contained in Lotman's treatment of the semiosphere. We can meet evidence to this even in Lotman's own practical analysis of the so-called behavioural texts that are based on the dynamism between 'normal' and 'abnormal', 'normal' and 'artistic' spheres of behavioural modalities. Behavioural texts concern interaction between the cultural space both in the physical and purely semiatic sense... (Randviir 2007: 148-149)
Randviir goes on to quote the case of Peter's Russia, but I'm rather reminded of the case of Russian nobility imitating the lives of literary characters. That's because these modalities: normal, abnormal, artistic and possibly several more (e.g. atypical, congruent, contrasting, etc.) can be treated like "keys" for interpreting certain programs of behaviour.

Cobley, Paul and Anti Randviir 2009. Introduction: What is sociosemiotics? Semiotica 173(1-4): 1-39.

One contributor to this special issue even insists on 'social semiotics' as the key term because 'sociosemiotics' is more closely associated with Greimas and Courtes' idea of an isolated and subjectivist semiotics. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 1)
I should look this up in G and C, perhaps this might be an ally to my 'semiophrenia'.
Clearly, it must at least be a matter of critical sign study that is aware of the specific and strategic ways in which signs are deployed in social formation. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 2)
Valuable for the phraseology. The specific differences between social formation, organization, system, etc. elude me at the moment, but the idea seems simple enough: social beings employ signs strategically (intentionally, purposefully).
Coupland and Jaworski's list of sociolinguistic principles is illustrative of some of the imperatives that would be passed on to a full-blown sociosemiotics... (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 3)
Indeed it is, yet I am unsatisfied with the logocentricity of this undertaking. Sociolinguists are of course interested primarily in language, but sociosemiotics should consider nonverbal communication as well. Thus, I deem it necessary to appropriate this list for nonverbalist discourse:
  • How are forms of behaviour and patterns of communication distributed across time and space? [cf. anthropological contributions to the study of nonverbal communicatian, especially Efron, Birdwhistell and other researches from the so-called "relativist" camp]
  • How to individuals and social groups distinguish themselves from others by means of nonverbal behaviour? [e.g. different manners of walking, resting, gesticulating, display rules, etc.]
  • How do communities differ in the ways they act and react to each other's presence and avoidance? [proxemics, involvement idioms, expressive order and other "boundary" aspects of interaction management]
  • How is body motion involved in social conflict and tension? [e.g. how did it come about that in that silly youtube video, the white man and black woman so completely misinterpreted each other's intentions]
  • How does 'body language' perpetuate race, ethnic, gender etc. discrimination and ideologies?
The latter questions in the original list veer off into metadiscourse, e.g. the role of "our attitude to language". There is a parallel to this as well, e.g. my own favorite delfi.ee comment wherein a user named Lucy says that she has never had to guess/riddle [mõistatama] body language. Most people seem to recognize the importance of nonverbals, yet this could be my own blind spot and perhaps people really do not pay conscious attention to nonverbal behaviour.
As can be seen, the list not only identifies the interface of signs and the 'social,' it also implicates methodology in the relationship. Furthermore, that methodology is itself a hybrid, derived from various disciplines within the human sciences. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 4)
Sounds like the ad hoc methodology of the TMS.
But' while Pelc's understanding of the general and the subsemiotic disciplines relies on attention to the intrinsically refrective nature of different semiotic trends with regard to the general semiotic paradigm, he suggests that sociosemiotics is 'to a great extent characterized by features typical of theories in the social sciences' (Pelc 1997: 639). As such, sociosemiotic research includes the methods of all disciplines that allow the study of the different levels of sign production and exchange as presented by Saussure (according to Bally and Sechehaye). These levels include psychological, physiological, and physical processes (Saussure 1959: 11-12), and link up with Peirce's discourse on logical and semiatic processes, as well as the above-mentioned areas and channels of semiosis. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 7)
Earlier, Randviir suggested especially early social theories, possibly because the earliest social theories were more general and paid more attention to semiotic aspects of social life. In terms of "psychological, physiological, and physical processes," Sebeok has paved much of the path for these (Sherrington's article on proprioceptive systems come to mind).
On numerous occasions, Sebeok argued that semiotics in general and communication theory are the same thing. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 8)
Right on the money. The earliest I have read of Sebeok, in 1962 (a work-conference on kinesics), he called semiotics "the advanced theory of communication".
As with cultural anthropology, the seemingly straightforward discovery that humans are semiotic beings has had a profound impact on the whole topic of empiricism in all walks of schoralship. The intrpersonal and social nature of signs in culture and the communicatively competent logical procedures applied to their syntagmatic organization now goes without saying. The classificatory study of signs is now effectively untnable. However, the 'rate of empiricism' in the social and human sciences, and in all scholarship eventually, has to do with the relation of humans, their sociocultural reality and the so-called reality 'out there.' If human semiotic systems filter human semiotic reality in communication, then human cognition is, to a large extent, defined through language and language-based sign systems. If the human's perceptual abilities have been shaped by those very systems, then, what is called 'realit' is always inevitably mediated and arbitrated. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 13)
Belief that humans are 'semiotic beings', or homo symbolicum is the general characterization of semiophrenia. Sign-minded thinking naturally views both human subjects and the reality they inhabit as semiotic phenomena. This is just as natural as for the sociologist to view humans as social beings with a social reality, or, to a lesser degree (since I'm not very familiar with this discourse) for the economist to view human beings as economic creatures whose reality is determined with relations of production and exchange. With semiophrenia, though, I need to draw further distinctions at some point, between an academically induced semiophrenia in semioticians and unofficial/everyday/folkloristic/mytho-cosmological semiophrenia which manifests itself in a common pastime called "reading the signs", e.g. the belief that the universe or the creator of the universe is trying to communicate with specific individuals via haphazard associations (cf. the 2012 film Signs in which an unemployed pothead receives confusing messages).
This does not lie at odds with the biosemiotic paradigm convened by Sebeok, by way of von Uexküll, in which the human Umwelt consists of the unique combination of verbality and nonverbality. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 13)
Indeed the first time I meet such turn of this phrase. I have embellished nonverbalism and discriminated at least six different meanings, but the exact significance of nonverbality eludes me. It makes perfect sense in estonian (as mitteverbaalsus), but in english it sounds foreign or mistaken, like verbs and nonverbs (for comparison, nonverbals do exist, that's a shorthand for "nonverbal cues"). At any rate I'm sure nonverbality could serve my purposes as well, but at this point I'm not sure how exactly.
In the era of striving towards a 'unified science,' this awareness was made explicit in works by numerous eminent scholars who are nowadays considered as the founding fathers of quite diverse disciplines that they would not have identified themselves. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 14)
I admire such scholars. Disciplines are merely labels. There are many themes or topics which fall into the category of "miscellanoeus," as Mauss put it. These are often the most valuable and exciting matters and escape direct labeling. I especially admire scholars who have the guts to give their own enclave of study a proper name, even if it doesn't catch on, e.g. Peirce's phaneroscopy, Ruesch's social psychiatry, Wescott's coenesics, Birdwhistell's kinesics, Lotman's artonics etc. I'm sure my own "concursivics" and "nonverbalism" will some day flatten under the hammer of the critics, but at least I dare to label my stuff as I deem appropriate according to my own personal conscience. Others may call these as they wish.
Even within the limits of human societies, metaphorical extrapolations are fraughts with danger:
There are ... important homologies between the personality and the social system. But these are homologies, not a macrocosm-microcosm relationships - the distinction is fundamental. Indeed, failure to take account of these considerations has lain at the basis of much of the theoretical difficulty of social psychology, especially where it has attempted to 'extrapolate' from the psychology of the individual to the motivational interpretation of mass phenomena, or conversely has postulated a 'group mind.' (Parsons 1952: 18)
Individual behavior cannot be explained by the extrapolation of truths pertaining to social psychology; likewise neither can societies nor social groups be described in the general terms of individual characteristics and behavioral regularities. Society is not a 'giant human,' human beings are not 'small societies.' On the other hand, the sociality of semiotics is derived from the very definition of the sign (as the object of any semiotic study), and represents the caution to be borne in mind in the study of 'reality.' (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 15)
Very much a necessary piece in my treatment of "holistic agency," e.g. semiosphere/culture as an "supraindividual personality" or something to that effect.
What might be the central dilemma of sociosemiotics, then, is the extent to which it is pulled towards a conception of 'signs in relation to non-signs' and/or 'signs and action versus signs as action.' Many would not wish to subscribe to the extreme constructionist position that everything is 'constructed in discourse,' an outgrowth of the much vaunted 'linguistic turn' (Rorty 1967); however, equally, it is the case that there is a recognition of the semiotic nature of the environment in which humans find themselves and through which they make observations. Metaphors such as 'langage' or 'text' have been heuristic extrapolation devices servicing sociosemiotics. As with the machinery of science, designed t ocapture phenomena that it has hithero been impossible to observe, it is never guaranteed that machinery provides the observer with meaning or meaningfulness, as oposed to mere physical information (see Russell 1948: chapters 3 and 7; Pelc 1992: 33). Thus the vital distinction has to be made between the existence of an entity as a sign, on the one hand, and the existence of something as being interpretable as a sign, on the other (see Pelc 1992: 26). In short, what is understood by the 'sign, has direct impact on what can be studied under the general label of 'culture' or 'society.' (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 21)
Although I somewhat detest the so-called "linguistic essentialism" in discourse/conversation analysis, I nevertheless subscribe to the notion that much of "nonverbal communication" is "constructed in discourse." Mainly because I theorize "body language" discourse becoming more and more prevalent and emerging as "common sense" in modern society. Yet this has not always been so. Before the 1970s and the "body turn," much of what we today ascribe to nonverbal communication was seemingly ascribed to "human essence," "temperament," "character," etc. Nonverbalism has provided the means (linguistic labels, notions and schemes) to discuss these matters in more detail with more empirical observations.
As for J. Pelc's distinction, I agree wholeheartedly that this is vital. This issue seems to be continuous/endless in semiotics. Goffman, for example, began his Presentation... with the distinction between 'signs given' and 'signs taken'. In a similar vein, Uexküll Jr. distinguished communicational (signs given) and informational (signs taken). In my own seminar paper I tackled this same issue by distinguishing proper signs and - in a rather crude manner - epiphenomenal signs. The best solution to this issue I have met in nonverbalism was presented in a nonverbal communication textbook by Burgoon and Saine (1978). Their model consisted of three concentric circles (placed within each other; not sure if "concentric" is the correct term), beginning with the most comprehensive, behaviour, proceeding to behaviour that holds some significance for someone, or information, and then information that is intended by someone for someone, or communication. All of these terms must, of course, be preceded by qualifier "nonverbal."
The main examples of combinations of signs and sign functioning repeatedly employed by schools of sociosemiotics can be listed as follows:
  • social structure
  • representation
  • dialogue
  • the other
  • multimodality
  • discourse
  • motivation (in signs and in combinations of signs)
  • identity
  • genre (routinization of communicational forms)
The list might be extended but it would be difficult to shorten it. Above all, though, even more than a relation of signs to 'non-signs,' what this list implies is a set of terms in which signs are subject to social forces (which may be semiotic in themselves) or 'signs in society.' That is, the compound of individual, society, sign systems, and sociocultural reality. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 21-22)
Terminological resources. "Nonverbal signs in society" is coincidentally the title of one of the subchapters in the structure of my BA thesis.
In addition to genre, one of the shibboleths of the 'discourse study' branch (especially CDA) of sociosemiotics in recent years has been 'multimodality.' However, the touting of multimodality has not necessarily lived up to its promise. In a post-linguistic environment, it seems that CDA has simply been announcing that there are some pictures to look at in everyday communication nowadays, as well as words, as though 'mainstream' semiotics has never noticed this. (Cobley & Randviir 2009: 32)
Apply cold water to the burned area.

Randviir, Anti 2002. Space and place as substrates of culture. In: Sarapik, V., K. Tüür and M. Laanemets (eds.), Koht ja Paik II. Place and Location II. Tallinn: Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Arts, 140-154.

The immanently meaningful nature of space is closely connected with the semiotic essence of a human being, beginning, on the one hand, from the dependence of the physical well-being of an individual on her/his ability to handle tho surrounding space, and, on the other hand, from philosophical discossions on the true nature and aim of human existence as connected with movement of semiotic structurees in spatial configurations (e.g. the Platonic discourse). (Randviir 2002: 140)
Indeed commonsensical contention, yet perhaps the first time spelled out so clearly: human well-being is dependent on how surrounding space is handled. Some of Hall's proxemics has dealt with something similar (e.g. spatial needs in relation with overpoulation).
Moving onwards from the already mentioned example concerning Platonism, we can see that the relationship between spatial configurations have and can be used to explain the structure of the humane semiotic reality in general. Besides, this can be done both in the everyday semiotic routine of individuals, just as well as on the scientific level. Focusing on the latter aspect, we can see that the matter does not any more concern space and place as certain categories with definite characteristics, but that they have often been turned into devices of describing different phenomena; we are regularly talking about the spatiality of certain artifacts, concepts, sematic fields, just like these phenomena gain their semiotic value through placement: into an overall system (that, through such procedures, in turn, provides these phenomena with spatial dimension helping to set them into an integral perspective). (Randviir 2002: 140-141)
Inimese semiootiline reaalsus. This appears to be the key for unlocking the spatial-semiotic dimension of the semiotic reality as Randviir frequently mentions it. That is, the semiotic reality of semiotic subjects has to do with both spatial structures and "semiotic routines" (or, perhaps, semiosic habits?) The bit about placement in valuable as well, as it links up with both dwelling and social distances (e.g. "placed on a pedestal" in the sense of Leach (or was it Fromm); as in the case of thrones, or "high chairs").
Culture, man's invented unnecessary luxurp if approached from such a viewpoint as man as a biological organism whose primary goal is satisfying the needs of physical existence, has been dependent of its ability to adjust to spatial realities. (Randviir 2002: 148)
A well-directed elaboration of the dependency argument: man must cope with his immediate environment and achieves this by costructing physical structures that simplify his existence: houses for shelter, roads for easy travel, wellsprings and pumps for comfortable access to water, etc. Man as a problem solver is constantly tryingg to solve the problem of physical/material existence. These physical structures or - to use Hall's term - extensions are his means towards this end.
Kluckhohn's treatment of culture as an abstraction and culture as a theory assume a relevant difference between the object level (including, e.g. individuals' interpretation of "correct" behaviour) and the metalevel (including, e.g. what kind of data is collected by the given researcher). (Randviir 2002: 150)
Ah, culture is also operative in the "appropriateness" of behaviour. This is evident in, for example, Ekman's display rules, which organize the appropriate displays of emotion for specific occasions (e.g. should one look sad or happy at a burial).

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