Deledalle on Peirce and Jakobson

Deledalle, Gérard 2000. Charles S. Peirce's Philosophy of Signs: Essays in Comparative Semiotics. Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Unfortunately, the definition of the sign and the conception of the "hierarchy" are wrong: there are three trichotomies and not one (i.e., nine relational aspects of a sign and not three), and the hierarchy is not relative, but ordered. (Deledalle 2000: 121)
I suspected that Jakobson imputed a hierarchy on Peirce's trichotomy of icon, index and symbol because he imputed a hierarchy on most everything. Here it turns out that there is indeed a hierarchy but a different kind of hierarchy.
Why would we speak in a given case of an icon rather than of an index or a symbol? asks Jakobson. It is simply because of "the predominance of one of these factors over the others" (Jakobson 1965: 26) [...] But in a semiotic analysis of the Peircean type, it cannot be said that the icon "predominates" over the two other aspects of the sign. (Deledalle 2000: 122)
I can guess that in Peircean lingo there are various degenerate types of signs.
It is extremely difficult to maintain the delicate balance between the dualistic meanings of the semiological concepts of Saussure and the pragmatic and triadic meanings of the new protocols of Peirce: the protocol of hierarchy and the protocol of degeneracy. (Deledalle 2000: 123)
I guess that my guess was correct.
Jakobson's diagram can be translated into a Peircean graph without altering Jakobson's theses on linguistics and poetics. The Message is related by the Sender to an Object with which the Message has some contact. The Message reaches a Receiver who is in a context which may be different from that of the Sender. Accordingly, the code of the Sender and the Receiver being different, the Receiver may give the sign-representamen of the Sender a different immediate Object or meaning from that of the Sender. (Deledalle 2000: 125)
Thus Deledalle notices the relation that eluded Kockelman (that message is positioned between the receiver and the referent). The fact that the receiver's context may be different from the sender's context is a major cause of communication difficulties.
The Receiver or interpreter is the λόγος of a Peircean semiosis (Representamen → Interpretant → Object), in a situation or context which is both psycho-physiological (Contact), social (Code), and singular (Context of a subject interpreting). (Deledalle 2000: 126)
Here I also have a little quibble: contact is indeed psycho-physiological (e.g. physical channel and psychological connection), but I would argue that it is social instead of the code, which can be shared or personal. This would probably go against both the linguist's and semiotician's sensibilities, but I stubbornly stick to an idiosyncratic interpretation of code. In my view only some codes are shared and social, others are private and "post-social" (a paraphrase of Morris's post-language). My contention is borne mostly from the fact that unlike language understood as code, which is pretty straightforward, it is rather difficult to pinpoint the code in nonverbal communication (cf. Ekman & Friesen's Figure 1 in Semiotica 1(1): 49-98).

Biosemiosis, Technocognition, and Sociogenesis

Kockelman, Paul 2011. Biosemiosis, Technocognition, and Sociogenesis: Selection and Significance in a Multiverse of Sieving and Serendipity. Current Anthropology 52(5): 711-739.

This essay theorizes significance in conjunction with selection and thereby provides a general theory of meaning. It treats processes of significance and selection in conjunction with processes of sieving and serendipity and thereby systematically interrelates the key factors underlying emergent forms of organized complexity. It theorizes codes in conjunction with channels and thereby links shared cultural representations and networked social relations. (Kockelman 2011: 711)
In other words, it links cultural capital (codes) with social capital (channels).
Joint attention is perhaps the exemplary semiotic process: a child turning to observe what her father is observing involves an interpretant (the child's change in attention), an object (what the parent, and later the child, is attending to), and a sign (the parent's direction of attention or gesture that directs attention). Here the relation between relations, what Peirce called "correspondence," is the relation between the parent's direction of attention and the object and the child's direction of attention and the object. (Kockelman 2011: 712)
I have wondered for a while now whether in this example (which is also the one used by Karl Bühler as well as countless others, reaching back to the Stoics, probably) the sign is the referent/object or the pointing behaviour towards the referent/object.
The economist Veblen (1971[1899]), himself a student of Peirce, merged both of these visions, theorizing the relation between seemingly nonpecuniary values (such as social status) and seemingly nonlinguistic signs (such as indexes of effort). Inspired by Darwin's account of sexual selection (1981[1871]) and the expression of emotions in man and animals (1965[1872]) and providing the basic template for many influential theories (such as Bourdieu's account of distinction and Labov's account of hypercorrection), his vision of pecuniary emulation was an attempt to explain the selection of social processes over historical time by relatively unintentional pathways. For example, he argued that any nonintentional or "natural" sign of one's ability to produce some original value (e.g., a large store of yams that by happenstance indicates that one is a good farmer) may become a derivative value insofar as it is a sign of one's distinction from other farmers. And this sign may therefore be intentionally sought in addition to or even at the expense of the object for which it originally stood (e.g., people strive to have large yam houses even if this no longer correlates with having lots of yams). In short, the same entity can be a sign of two different objects: both a natural or happenstance sign of sustenance and a nonnatural or covertly communicative sign of status. And the relation between these two simultaneously active semiotic processes was a condition of possibility for complex forms of sociogenesis. (Kockelman 2011: 712)
I have my own (curiously autoreferential) example. This blog suggests to some of my teachers and outside observers that I am a capable thinker merely because I have accumulated an extensive collection of quotes and associations between ideas. This blog thus leaves the impression that I am able to churn out academic papers if I so wished. Actually it turns out that I have very little to contribute on my own terms and thus I have been trying to write a single paper for almost a year now. That is, I may appear distinct from other BA students, but this does not correlate with the facts of the matter.
And it theorizes codes in conjunction with channels and thereby links shared cultural representations and networked social relations. (Kockelman 2011: 713)
I hope this is different from how codes and channels are viewed in conjunction by theorists of nonverbal communication who take the route of absurd simplicity and conflate the two, so that haptics and tacticics becomes "contact code", chronemics and environment become "time and space codes", etc.
And while most of the ideas it brings together have thus been around for more than 100 years, it offers a condensation, synthesis, extension, and - perhaps most importantly - perturbation of such ideas. (Kockelman 2011: 713)
This is what I currently need to do with ideas that have been around for approximately 50 to 75 years.
In short, there are no isolated envirnoments and organisms, there are only envorganisms. This last point is, to be sure, well rehearsed by scholars such as Darwin, von Uexküll, Gibson, Heidegger, and Lewontin. The point here is to frame it in an explicit theory of meaning and to thereby show its natural emergence from more basic and more well-defined processes. (Kockelman 2011: 715)
This indeed seems to be the point of Uexküll's Umwelt and Heidegger's Dasein, although I cannot verify neither these nor the others. Also, Peirce wrote there no so such thing as an absolute individual, meaning that an individual person is always syncretic with his circle of society. Thus, we may very well discuss something like a persocion. What use that would be, I cannot say.
Indeed, if you are wary of cognitive or enminded processes (in the context of human speech acts, themselves framed in intentionalist terms), you may focus on affective or embodied ones. For example, the facial expressions described by Darwin (1965[1872]) or the affect programs studied by Ekman (2006) are frameable in similar terms - from their roots, involving an appraisal of a situation (qua "sensation"), through autonomic nervous system arousal, to their fruits, involving a set of behaviors (qua "instigation"). Moreover, whether the agent is framed in enminded intentionalist terms (e.g., as a believing and intending "subject," via Descartes) or in an embodied habitus-like idiom (e.g., as a circumspecting and associating "Dasein," via Heidegger) is of no concern here. (Kockelman 2011: 717)
Cf. Brentano's proto-phenomenological approach to intention and how emotions contain judgments (here: appraisals) of some object (here: a situation).
In particular, reframing Grice's insights (1989d; and see Strawson 1971[1954]) in a semiotic idiom, there are at least four (significant) objects of interest in nonnatural meaning: (1) my intention to direct your attention to an object (or to bring an object to your attention); (2) the object that I direct your attention to (or bring to your attention); (3) my intention that you use 2, usually in conjunction with 1, to attend to another object; and (4) the object that you come to attend to. (Kockelman 2011: 718)
I find it cool that you can replace all these Peircean idioms with Jakobsonian idioms: (1) conative; (2) referential; (3) conative; (4) referential. There is obvious phenomenological doubling at play here.
The subset of relations marked f is different from the subset marked e even though they seem similar. These relations may be understood as relations between relations of type d as constituted by an ensemble of interconnected envorganisms - be they neurons or logic gates, speech acts or mental states, instruments or actions, intentional individuals or sieving gradients. These relations, then, are mediated by actual and possible configurations of channels such that the sensations and instigations, or signs and interpretants, of one such envorganism make sense only in the context of the sensations and instigations, or signs and interpretants, of other such envorganisms. In some sense, this is a way of generalizing Saussure's insight from codes or "languages" (qua relations between signs and objects) to channels or "infrastructure" (qua relations between signers and interpreters), a point that requires some unpacking. (Kockelman 2011: 725)
Here it is again: this weird combination of "signers and interpreters". In a Peircean paradigm both the sender and the receiver should be "signers".
To understand this last kind of relation between relations, one needs to notice the fundamental similarity between codes and channels. A code in the Jakobson-Saussure framework is a set of type-type relations: signifiers (or signs) of one type are paired with signifieds (or objects) of another type. [...] In contrast, a channel in the Jakobson-Saussure framework is a connection between the speaker and the addressee (or between the signer and the interpreter) such that signs expressed by the former (via processes that include instigation) may be interpreted by the latter (via processes that include sensation). (Kockelman 2011: 725)
But there is a more fundamental similarity between channels and contexts! In the original organon model it is the object that acts as a medium between one and another. There can be contact without code but there cannot be contact without context. Also, Saussurean signified is not Peircean object - a point that has been argued over time and again.
Note, then, the fundamental symmetry: just as codes connect signs and objects, channels connect signers and interpreters. Rather than focusing on what signs to send, we now focus on where to send them. (Kockelman 2011: 726)
These are perfectly correct statements but what is missing is that messages connect interpreters with objects. It must also be pointed out that in this third "relation between relations" the receiver can interpret most anything as a message referring to some code. This is the case of a paranoid or religious person who interprets insignificant occurrences as highly significant, as messages from god or some unseen stalker.
As for the second caveat, our focus is not on a channel per se but on a network of channels linking an ensemble of envorganisms. The problem with a word such as "network" is that its referent is often envisioned as a twe-dimensional surface occupying a three-dimensional space (both like a "net" and somewhat like the Internet), where instead one should rather try to imagine an N-dimensional substance (itself chock full of brains and fangs) crammed into a four-dimensional space-time. With these caveats in mind, we may begin the generalization. (Kockelman 2011: 726)
This is good. When I finally get around to reading Ruesch and Bateson (1951) in total, I should keep this in mind and see how many dimensions they attribute to their communication networks. Actually, I don't think it's particularly important, but it would be somewhat interesting, as the exact nature of their intertwined intrapersonal, cultural, etc. networks eludes me.
First, rather than think about selection (of paragidmatic alternatives within a code, e.g., whether one says he, she, or it or whether one says was, is, or will be or whether one says happy, sad, or angry), think about which channels (to which interpreters) are simultaneously accessible to a single signer (within a given network). And rather than think about combination (of such selections in linearly ordered syntagms, e.g., she is angry, he was sad, it will be happy, etc.), think about which channels may be sequentially accessed from a single signer. That is, operations such as selection and combination are at work in the domain of channels as much as in the domain of codes. (Kockelman 2011: 726)
But all this is about conation and the radius of communication rather than the phatic function! Also, happy, sad and angry are not what Jakobson means my a paradigmatic set because these are not equivalent in the sense that he talks about selection. A set like cheerful, merry, joyful, contended, etc. would be such a set, because these words are synonymous (that is, equivalent to some degree). I quibble over such inanity because Kockelman seems to miss the point of selection in Jakobson's theory. If you wish to describe a happy person you're not choosing between happy, sad and angry, but between different verbal signs that signify happyness. I realize that both types of selection are involved, but they are of a different order.
And just as the "value" of a sign (qua signifier-signified relation) for Saussure is dependent on its role in a grammar's code, the value of an envorganism is dependent on its role in a network of channels - where by "value" we mean how exactly, given this larger context, the features of its object or the interests of its agent should be understood (itself dependent on the frame at issue). (Kockelman 2011: 726)
Are we really going to apply the principle of abstractive relevance on organisms or people?
I highly qualify this simple symmetry between material translation (channel) and meaningful translation (code) and develop its repercussions (Kockelman 2011). (Kockelman 2011: 726; footnote 23)
"Material translation" makes just about as much sense as placing one brick on top of another does as "reo-real interpretation" sensu Ducasse (1939).
Indeed, in more human terms, and given present concerns, a fundamental interpretant nowadays is connecting or disconnecting a channel (think Twitter and Facebook); that is, the fundamental mode of real-time instigation by human actors is selecting what (and whose) instigations one will sense and what (or who) will sense one's instigations. (Kockelman 2011: 727)
But how appropriate are terms like "connecting" and "disconnecting" with Twitter and Facebook? Unlike the internet cable or telephone wire, which can be physically connected and disconnected (because they are technical channels), social media sites can be logged into and logged out of, but neither will "shut off" because of it. This is a point that calls for a more modern paradigm. I'm going to skip the comments section because this article managed to disappoint me.

Phatic Labor and Infrastructure

Elyachar, Julia 2010. Phatic labor, infrastructure, and the question of empowerment in Cairo. American Ethnologist 37(3): 452-464.

Despite such problems, she and her friends were busy and active. They would visit one another, most often in their own block of apartments but in other parts of the neighbourhood as well. They visited women they knew from the mosque, friends they had made through other friends, and, sometimes, women they had met at the greengrocer. They also maintained ties to friends and family in other parts of Cairo, and much of their week was taken up with visiting around the city (which, with its population of 18 million, took up both time and effort). There was often no obvious purpose to those visits - no goal to accomplish, no occasion to celebrate, no fixed appointment to meet. (Elyachar 2010: 452)
Communication and social relationships are sometimes pleasurable for their own sake. E.g. phatic communion. My first thought is that "phatic labor" is an extension of phatic communion in the sense that it is sometimes laborious (taking both time and effort) to achieve.
Anthropological writing on microenterprise, empowerment, and finance usually draws on theories of political economy, finance, and development. My analysis is equally grounded in those bodies of literature, but I draw on linguistics, semiotics, and information theory as well. As a starting point for my analysis of the outcomes of women's social practices, I turn to Bronislaw Malinowski's (1936) concept of "phatic communion." With this concept, Malinowski shows how language such as gossip and catting can be a means of establishing ties for their own sake, rather than for the purpose of conveying any information in particular. In the spirit of other projects that bring together semiotics and linguistics with political economy (Keane 2008; Kockelman 2006, 2007; Pedersen 2008), I bring together Malinowski with Karl Marx to introduce the concept of "phatic labor." I argue that this labor produces communicative channels that can potentially transmit not only language but also all kinds of semiotic meaning and economic value. The period of empowerment finance, as I show below, made communicative channels created through phatic labor visible as a social infrastructure on which other projects oriented around the pursuit of profit could be constructed. (Elyachar 2010: 453)
I get very suspicious when Marxism is involved. So, too with information theory, because that stuff is almost synonymous with "mathematical theory of communication" and was reportedly a failed project (limited to technical/engineering aspects of communication). I do agree that ultimately phatics is not about small talk as such, but about social relationships - or infrastructure - and the communization of not only about signification ("semiotic meaning") but also, as Malinowski put it, about "the breaking of bread and the communion of food" (1946[1923]: 314).
In workshop neighbourhoods of Cairo, the coffeehouse is a place where deals are made, information exchanged, workers located, and opportunities pursued. The coffeehouse is a beehive of sociality, where men from workshops chat and gossip over instruments of convivality such as coffee, tea, and water pipes (sisha). Workshop masters come to the coffeehouse to settle disputes, arrange deals, and learn about new customers, supplies from new sources, and whether workers with skills they need are available for hire. Workers share information about possible jobs and gossip about their current employers. The coffeehouse has been called an "informal institution" of the Egyptian labor market (Assaad 1993). More breadly, it is a place where channels of communication in the public economic space of workshop communities come together and become visible, like train tracks come together in Grand Central Station in New York City. (Elyachar 2010: 454)
Every nexus of communication channels can be viewed this way, be it a physical coffee shop or an internet forum. Some of these descriptions sounds awfully lot like what people do on reddit; especially information about possible jobs and gossip about current employers.
Um Muhammed moved around much less than her neighbours: She generally moved only from her apartment to her husband's coffeehouse to the homes of her immediate relatives and back again. Her limited mobility may have been due in part to a slight limp. But if so, the contours of her social world had become shaped around those limitations to quite productive ends. Her life was oriented around her nuclear family and her time was spent inside the home, but Um Muhammed was not a housewife. Nor did she spend her day reproducing labor power to be sold on the market for a wage. As a loving wife and mother, Um Muhammed's affective labor and skill were crucial in creating the possibilities for her son to become a fully social man who could marry and head an economic enterprise and for her husband to enjoy his reputation as a man of honor who had the resources and the temperament to help others in their times of need. But she did more as well. In popular communities of Cairo, the coffehouse is a place where practices of sociality integral to male productive work are prominently on display. It is a communicative hub of phatic labor, as my more detailed discussion of this concept below makes clear. Um Muhammed was a maintenance worker on essential infrastructure of economic life in Cairo. (Elyachar 2010: 454)
I had a hunch that the notion of emotion work (or "affective labor") may come into play here. In this sense one can view any of Jakobson's six components and extend them towards economic theories. I think this may have begun with Bourdieu's forms of capital. His social capital has to do with the emotive, conative and phatic functions and his cultural capital with the poetic, referential and metalingual.
When Hoodfar's informant, Um Hani, needed to get her family's apartment connected to the water, she went about this task in classic Cairene fashion. She went on visits. She visited each of her neighbours in turn until she found someone who knew someone in the right office to take care of this matter. "If I go not knowing anybody," Um Hani told Hoodfar, "they will not deal with me and send me from one office to the next and will ask me to return day after day. But if I know someone who knows the rules and knows the people, the whole thing may not take more than a few hours. Here nobody helps you if you do not have connections" (1997: 230). In this case, Um Hani's visits were interested. But Um Hani also visited back and forth with her neighbours many times with no goal in mind. Most of the time, she and her neighbours were just being sociable. The disinterested nature of their visits did not contradict their statements about the importance of the connections that sociality forced. Such is the nature of phatic labor. (Elyachar 2010: 454-455)
In this sense phatic labor has to do with the aspect of relationships that I pointed out while reading another paper on phatics; namely, that communization is not merely about sharing common experience but also about having common acquaintances. A lot of small talk or, especially, gossip, is about other people. In other words, the "channel" that some phatic utterances are "about" are not the given contact between A and B but the contact that A and B both have with C. This is almost the reverse of a metachannel, perhaps something like a parachannel (although these communication theory terms are perhaps not the best ones for the occasion).
When talking about connections and their importance, Cairenes often use the words 'alaqat (relations) or wasta (intermediaries). The concept of "wasta" is pervasive in Egypt and many other Middle Eastern societies. Cultivating wasta entails great inverstments of time and energy. It is not a phenomenon of the poor alone: Wasta is central to life among elites as well (Inhorn 2004). A concept similar to "wasta" is found in other cultures: The native concepts of "guanxi" in China (Hutchings and Weir 2005; Kipnis 1997) and "nepotism" in the United States (Bellow 2004) both refer to the importance of cultivating networks of personal connections to get things done. Wast is sometimes glossed as corruption or patronage and is an object of concern for those studying the conduct of business in the Middle East (Hutchings and Weir 2005; Loewe et al. 2008). Anthropologists often gloss this phenomenon in terms of networks. (Elyachar 2010: 455)
There are corresponding concepts in Estonian as well: tutvused ("acquaintances") and vahendajad ("intermediates" or "mediators").
Given the frequency of my informants' talk about connections and relationships, not surprisingly, I began to analyze my findings in terms of "networks" during the course of my research. In this article, I take a different approach. I do not look at the network as an interlocking web of individuals, as a coordination of individual interests, or as a framework for action. Instead, I analyze communicative channels that I maintain are an outcome of practices of sociality on their own terms, as distinct objects of inquiry. (Elyachar 2010: 455)
This could very well be the proper object of my made-up field, phatics.
A number of clues within and around anthropology suggest how such an approach might look. One can, for example, think of channels in much the way Pierre Bourdieu writes about practical reason, in terms of "beaten tracks" or "pathways that are really maintained and used" (1990: 35). If one takes an approach common in linguistics since Roman Jakobson (1990), then one can think of channels as existing wherever physical proximity and psychological contact between a speaker and addressee allow them to send and receive messages. (Elyachar 2010: 455)
I knew Bourdieu had to show up at one point or another.
By recognizing that channels can rest on social convention as much as on a specific, one-to-one physical or psychological connection, one can understand a channel as anything that relates a signer to an interpreter "such that a sign expressed by the former may be interpreted by the latter" (Kockelman n.d: 3). Understood in this way, communicative channels can be analyzed as a collective resource for all kinds of semiotic communication in addition to language per se (Elyachar in press; Kockelman n.d.). And once the analytical focus shifts away from humans brought together in networks to channels themselves as a relatively stable outcome of human practices, then different kinds of metaphors come to mind as to what this might imply. Specifically, one can think of sets of channels as infrastructure. (Elyachar 2010: 455)
"Singer" and "interpreter" are such idiosyncratic terms. In a kind of backformation one could very well invent terms like "singer" and "signee" (e.g. the person who "gives" or outputs signs and the person who "takes" on inputs signs). These terms would then correlate with sender and receiver, addresser and addressee, communicator and communicatee, effector and effectee, etc. The matter is a bit more complex with the interpreter, since both sender and receiver are dealing with interpretation to some degree (the sender necessarily interpretates his or own message). One suspicious option would be to think of the sender as an interpretant and the receiver as interpreter. In this case the sender does not have to be a person as such but could very well be an imaginary of fantasy sender, as in some cases of intrapersonal communication. E.g. in the reverse case of praying, as when a person assumes that God has given (communicated) him or her a sign, God is not an actual "signer", but an imaginary construct, an interpretant in the interpreter's mind. // I agree that communication channels can be thought of as a resource (a type of semiotic resource, to be specific), but I detest terms such as "semiotic communication" and "semiotic meaning". Communication necessarily occurs through signs just like meaning is necessarily semiotic. What must be pointed out, though, is that sharing something can bypass signs - this is the case of communization. Breaking bread and sharing food, as in Malinowski's example, is not a case of communication nor is there anything particularly semiotic about it, but it is still a case of communion and involves both channel and contact. Although, to be sure, even this case is not devoid of semiotic aspects - they are merely difficult to elucidate (e.g. are perception and action semiotic, as in the pansemiotic view?). // Lastly, I do like the connection between sets of channels and infrastructure, although the notion of "infrastructure" then demands clarification.
Infrastructure is a classic "public good," as a set of resources available to all and whose use does not decrease its availability to others (Samuelson 1954; Stigliz 1999). The "smell of infrastructure is the smell of the public" (Robbins 2007: 26). (Elyachar 2010: 455)
Could "infrastructure" then be the connection between phatics and Habermasian public?
Economies cannot function without infrastructure. This is a commonplace in all kinds of economic theory. In volume two of Capital (1956), for example, Marx shows the centrality of infrastructure to the circulation and realization of value: The creation and maintenance of infrastructure is not itself directly productive of value and yet is essential to the capitalist system of production. Nor, from the standpoint of a neoclassical theory of value, does infrastructure create price. But if you cannot link a product to the market, then that product will spoil and become worthless. If you cannot link a buyer to a seller, then a market cannot function. Linking buyers and sellers entails more than physical transportation of goods. Infrastructure - roads, airports, ports, and bridges - allows producers to realize the potential economic value of a product as well. (Elyachar 2010: 455)
The "channel" in communication similarly is not itself a producer of signification but it is essential to communication and the exchange or establishment of shared signification.
Through phatic labor, both [Um Muhammed and Khadija] produced and maintained sets of communication channels in the male economic space of the workshop. (Elyachar 2010: 456)
It is quite possible to look for analogy in the scientific community, e.g. the "cross-pollunators" as Sebeok called the influential figures in semiotics (like Roman Jakobson, who took continental semiology with him to America and brought communication theory back to Europe through his writings and attendance at conferences).
Unlike the kind of pathways referred to by Bourdieu in writing about practical reason or the channels modeled by C. E. Shannon for information systems, the channels Khadija helped construct left no marks on the ground or algorithms for engineers to reproduce. (Elyachar 2010: 456)
Does this negate Corneli's idea of a mu-algorithm, then?
Unlike housework or prostitution, visiting, moving around a megacity, chatting, and consolidating friendship have not been conceptualized as labor in Western social theory. (Elyachar 2010: 457)
But what about social work? In this sense the whole enterprise of social work is an attempt to create contact between people who need government help and the government bureaucracy that can provide help. In fact, even such mundane phenomena as "registers" or "information booths" (or generally people sitting behind a table near the entrance of a building who provide information about where to go, who to see, etc.) can be thought of "phatically", although the referential function may be dominant in this case. No, but the function of such representatives is not only to hand out information but exactly to "represent" and embody the organization they stand for, so as to give it a human face and establish contact with people. For example, I have a book (Gailit's Nipernaadi) long overdue because I borrowed it from a department at the city library that isn't connected to the web-based infrastructure so you need to call the department to lengthen your return. The last time I did that the book was already long overdue and the woman on the other end of the phone sounded so pissed off that I didn't call again, leaving me with an unimaginable amount of overdue payment. Letting the book go overdue is of course my fault, but it wouldn't be a problem had the representative of the library been warmer and not make me feel like a criminal for calling in to lengthen the time. (Now I have to wait for Christmas or whenever the library takes back books without charging overdue cost.)
The "affective turn" in social sciences (Clough 2007; Hardt 2007) opens another way to think about social practices carried out by these women, which are motivated by affect and Egyptian "family ethos" (Wiken 1996) as much as by economic interest, strictly speaking. (Elyachar 2010: 457)
By the amount of papers published on the phatic function and other phatic phenomena (phatics, in general) and by the foreseeable need for studying human contact in an increasingly web-based social reality it seems to me that something like a phatic turn is waiting just around the corner, if it hasn't already begun.
But by calling rpactices of sociality "labor," I do not mean to say that the friendliness and sociality of the Egyptian people constitute a kind of opportunistic functionalism. Cairene women are not pursuing instrumentally rational behavior when they go to visit friends on a public-sector bus. At the same time, the outcome of that work of forging connections is economically vital. That kind of labor is necessary for the preservation of privilege among the upper classes. It is necessary for the preservation of life itself among the poor of Cairo, for whom it is both time-consuming and fragile in its outcomes. Just as poor people have to contend with fragmented physical infrastructure in all aspects of their lives (Larkin 2008), they have to invest more time in the maintenance of infrastructure of communicative channels as well. (Elyachar 2010: 457)
Bourdieu's "social capital" does seem appropriate in this context. One could probably comb through all the books on communication, interaction, etc. and find all the fragments about how communication is important for "producing and maintaining" social relationships and what these are good or useful for. One of the first popular books about this topic, How to make friends and influence people, was exactly about the usefulness of forming pleasant relationships for the benefit of business.
Malinowski's data for his brief discussion of phatic communion concerns his informants' engagement in face-to-face conversation in a small island community. Malinowski makes clear that what is at stake here is not "just talk". Phatic communion, he asserts, is a form of social action. Other forms of communication could be brought under the rubric of this kind of social action as well. Phatic communion in Cairo also takes place, for example, through collective "locomotory practices" in urban space that normally remain in the background of perception but through which the collective identity of the poor masses is both expressed and reproduced (Elyachar in press). Such regularized if relatively unstudied forms of bodily practice and gesture are immediately recognized by others who are part of the same "semiotic community" (Kockelman 2005: 261-262); they help maintain and reproduce communicative channels in Cairo. (Elyachar 2010: 457)
The fact of being "relatively unstudied" in why one needs to call out phatics as the study of social practice serving to establish and maintain semiotic communities. I protested against terms like "semiotic communication" and "semiotic meaning" above because those terms were kind of redundant. I agree with "semiotic community" here because this as a good alternative for Morris's interpretive family, or even (sub)culture and goes beyond the notion of community in the sense of a location (e.g. a group of people living in a community). There is a semiotic community whenever (instead of "where-ever") people share a common understanding or experience with certain signs and establish contact by means of these signs. Internet memes, for example, create semiotic communities that are physically diffuse and elusive, yet integral in the sense of sharing a common understanding of a joke, a pun, or whatever phenomenon. I recall sparking up a very pleasant conversation several years ago with a girl at a gas station at 2 AM simply because she had Longcat painted on her shoulderbag. Examples like this are endless and they all have something phatic in common.
At numerous points in his ethnography, Malinowski maintains that his analysis of kula is relevant for Victorian England. Most famous, perhaps, in this regard, is his offhand comment that the vaygu'a coveted and traded among men in the Trobriand Islands were much like the grown jewels in Great Britain: "Ugly, useless, ungainly, even tawdry" and yet worshipped as essential to collective identity (Malinowski 1999: 68). (Elyachar 2010: 458)
This conforms with my stupid example of Longcat quite well, although there are probably more pertinent examples one could bring. The focus here is on the function of phatic communion in establishing groups or communities, of maintaining collective identity. In Malinowski's own discussion of phatic communion it is so with language: the silent stranger is dangerous because it is impossible to achieve contact with him, to exchange ritualized formulas that affirm that he is "the same as you", that he means well, and so to lower tension. I think most small language groups feel good about strangers speaking their language. In a video on youtube about learning Hungarian, one of the most difficult languages on the planet, I heard that the Hungarians are very well disposed to foreigners who make at least some little effort to learn their language. So it is with Estonians and I imagine with other smaller languages as well. Mutual understanding and other very elementary aspects of human relations are at the heart of phatics.
Malinowski's concept of "phatic communion" has been relatively overlooked, outside of its influence on linguistics via Jakobson (Kockelman n.d). Jakobson (1990) adopted Malinowski's concept of "phatic communion" to identify the "phatic function" of the speech act. The phatic function is one of the six functions of the speech event he identifies. The expressive function focuses on the speaker; the conative focuses on the addressee; the metalinguistic focuses on code; the poetic focuses on sign; the referential focuses on the object, or referent, of a speech act; and the phatic function focuses on the channel through which speech is conveyed. Despite the wide range of these functions, linguistics has generally focused on the referential function of the speech event alone (Kockelman 2005: 260-261, n.d.). It might be time for anthropology to return to Malinowski's formulation of phatic communion as a way to think through a number of theoretical dilemmas confronting critical social analysis today. (Elyachar 2010: 458)
I find this very agreeable. Not only because Jakobson's interpretation ("adoption") is indeed very restrictive and in an effort to frame phatic communion as a speech function actually leaves out the true function of phatic communion - to lower social tension, to establish communion (first of words and ultimately of food, housing, perhaps sex and whatever else human beings are capable of sharing with one another). I think that semiotically inclined anthropologists would do well to consider Charles Morris's concept of communization alongside phatic communion. Finally it sounds like Elyachar herself is calling out for a phatic turn (in anthropology, no less, but still). Personally, I think that phatics would be very useful to sociosemiotics and perhaps sociology at large. But that is another topic.
Jakobson's concept of "channels" created by the phatic function depends on both physical proximity and psychological contact of the sort discussed by Malinowski in the case of the Tribriands. In Cairo, a city with a huge population, phatic connectivity does not rely on direct physical proximity or immediate one-to-one psychological contact. As the ethnographic material I present in this article makes clear, Cairenes have a more generalized disposition to create, maintain, and extend communicative channels than a one-to-one model of contact would allow. To make sense of this ethnographic material in cairo, one needs to see the channels created by phatic labor in a more expansive sense - as relating singers to interpreters so that signs of all kinds (and not just language) expressed by the former can be immediately (even if not consciously) interpreted by the latter (Kockelman n.d.). (Elyachar 2010: 458)
Here she points out yet another way in which Jakobson's interpretation is reductive: it is focused on a two-person communication system, while in the original formulation Malinowski spoke of it as a veritable social action occurring in groups (people working and talking simultaneously, people sitting around a fire and reminiscing about their lives, etc.). Thus, the "radius of communication" must also be expanded if phatics is to expand beyond the speech event as such. In the end, I think, it is about the infrastructure of communication systems, the network structure in the communication network.
We need to ask how payment space relates to phatic labor. Phatic labor has long produced outcomes that can be compared with the laying of cables or fiber-optic lines or the building of railroads. It has allowed for goods and use values of various kinds to flow - if quite different use values than those analyzed in classical political economy or Marxist thought. The outcomes of phatic labor - communicative channels - have allowed for the flow of reputation, information, and emotion. They have allowed for the transfer of finance and the creation of new kinds of equivalences. They have been a necessary if not a sufficient condition for the realization of other, more classic forms of economic value as well. (Elyachar 2010: 459)
I would argue that reputation, information and emotion constitute only half the story. Combining the phatic function in Jakobson's scheme with other functions we get: (1) phatic-emotive - meaning shared emotions or attitudes; (2) phatic-referential - shared frame of reference, cognition and information; (3) phatic-conative - shared acquaintances and reputation of those acquaintances; (4) phatic-metalingual - shared code, force unifiante or equalization in terms of language; and (5) phatic-poetic - shared messages lika mass media, books, music, etc. I'm not quite sure about the last two combinations and god only knows what would be phatic-phatic, but at least the first three seem concrete enough (perhaps these are the only ones necessary, as affect, cognition and conation were the original triad).
I suggest that Huda was part of a vast global process in which individual agents and agencies mapped out apparently radom data about who knew whom, who helped whom, who trusted whom, and who funded whom. This activity might all seem to be about social networks once again, but I argue that something else was under way.
The phatic labor of Huda's neighbours and forebears had created countless nodes of connectivity within the semiotic community of Cairo. Huda facilitated the creation of new kinds of nodes in those channels. Those new nodes incorporated different kinds of receivers for which signs had to be translated and interpreted. The insertion of such nodes into existing communicative channels subtly altered the nature of social infrastructure in Cairo. The process of uncovering channels and translating their meaning to new kinds of actors was an essential step in making legible and accessible to outsiders the social infrastructure of communication that had been built up over the centuries by the phatic labor of Huda's forebears. (Elyachar 2010: 459-460)
I don't exactly get the difference between a social network and a social infrastructure of communication.
In the process, channels along which signals and signs could travel were themselves being reshaped as a particular kind of sign - as a commodity (cf. Kockelman 2006). (Elyachar 2010: 460)
So what is the difference between social capital and phatic capital?
If Khadija was a producer of women's bodies, Huda might be thought of as a phatic pimp. Khadija prostituted women's bodies. Huda, by contrast, prostituted signs of women's bodies and outcomes of phatic labor. She helped generate and transmit signs of women to new actors in an emerging political economy in which communicative pathways would have strategic economic value. (Elyachar 2010: 460)
Won't anyone who knows a lot of people in this sense become a phatic pimp?
The concept of "phatic labor," I have argued, allows scholars to theorize the link between communicative practices of sociality, the creation of infrastructure, and the use of that infrastructure in economic projects oriented around a variety of goals, such as the extraction of economic surplus or the capturing of community resources for collective goals. (Elyachar 2010: 460)
Alas something like a definition of phatic labor. This is far removed from my purposes, which are basically revolving around theorizing the link between communication for the sake of communication, the establishing of commonages other than signification and communication about relationships. Elyachar's chain links phatic communion, infrastructure and economics while my chain links phatic communion, communization and the mu-function.
Communicative channels were accessed by poor baladi Cairenes through different means - through shared membership in a "semiotic community" (Kockelman 2005: 262). Members of a semiotic community shared resources of signs, gesture, and channels. Empowerment finance helped make that semiotic commons visible as a resource that could be put to other uses. (Elyachar 2010: 460)
I must look into the definition of a semiotic community.

Theoretical Background of Paragogy

Corneli, Joseph A. 2014. Peer Produced Peer Learning: A Mathemathical Case Study. PhD thesis. Milton Keynes, The Open University.

The term paragogy (literally, "para-" alongside, "-gogy" leading) is used here to characterize the critical study and practice of peer produced peer learning, adapting the classical concept of pedagogy and the relatively recent notion of andragogy (Knowles, 1968) to a peer learning context. The need for a theory of this nature was articulated in dialog and collaborative research with Charles Jeffrey Danoff (Cornely & Danoff, 2011a, 2011b). (Corneli 2014: 33)
What a neat term! I can only quibble with the minute semantics of the word, as the "peda-" in pedagogy and "andra-" in andragogy designate the subject of leading. In effect, paragogy would signify something like "distinct from leading". I imagine my own way of learning being closer to this interpretation: more often than not I learn not from from university courses and lecturers but despite these factors; that is, on a path distinct from where we are supposed to be lead. But the meaning given to it here works well, too, I guess (I don't yet know what is peer produced peer learning).
What if every participant specified their level of commitment in advance? Building a "contract" with the facilitator - and with the community - would delp ensure that people would make appropriate commitments (and keep them). (Corneli 2014: 34)
Is it even possible to specify the level of commitment in advance? My university enables students to register off from a course in two weeks. These first few weeks are viewed as a testing period for everyone to decide if they want to be committed to the course or not. I imagine this is common practice. Our unofficial seminar on autocommunication also disintegrated after two weeks but that may have been due to poor timing (at the end of the semester).
At the same time, from a paragogical perspective, learning is not an automatic default; it is a specific sort of highly conditioned side-effect. One may be stuck in a rut. A peer should not be conceptualized as someone who is stuck in the same rut. Rather, people who learn together or from one another, who help one another get a better grasp of the world, are understood to be "peers." (Corneli 2014: 36)
"[...] each individual may hold a small piece of information which is entirely useless to him alone; but when he is in contact with a group [...] the isolated pieces of information fall into place. [...] The codification of information is divided among many people, and only when the mosaic is put together does it become significant." (Ruesch 1972[1953]: 74) And: "[...] the gradual interchange of information and successive correction leads to the establishment of correspondence of information between A and B, which state might be called "understanding"." (ibid, 86)
In a more detailed interpretation, "Context" could be decomposed into nested, overlapping, or adjacent contexts. (Corneli 2014: 37)
This is almost what I'd like to do with Jakobson's context component when I get to it. I'd like to resuscitate Albert Gehring's contextual function (in The Basis of Musical Pleasure, 1910), although that would take a lot of effort (mostly because Gehring himself does not use the term, but that is how S. K. Langer characterizes his efforts). A more accommodating parallel is within the Marty/Tynyanov syn- and autofunction. In short, the synfunction concerns "adjacent contexts" (from "syn-" meaning place together) and the autofunction concerns, well, not exactly nested or overlapping contexts but other similar contexts that are not necessarily adjacent. I now realize that this is almost like the distinction between enigmatic and paradigmatic situations in that the autofunctional context has an already established set of rules to it, while the enigmatic situation is understood through the broader social context.
Within the field of education, Marlene Scardamalia's notion of "collective cognitive responsibility" (Scardamalia, 2002) is sympathetic, although it remains basically provisionist. Her claim is that in the standard classroom model, "all the higher-level control of the discourse is exercised by the teacher." Students are "reactive" and "receptive,", their work focused on "tasks and activities." Small groups and decentralized, constructive, computer mediated communication are seen as two possible alternatives that "turn more responsibility over to the students." (Corneli 2014: 38)
This chapter is full of notions that sound so awesome and yet feel distinctly out of my grasp. I've made the same distinction between the reactive style of American students as opposed to the receptive style of Estonian students before, although in different terms. Actually, I got into Jakobson thanks to a course dedicated to him in which the lecturer acted very little; the students made almost all the presentations and there was a palpable "collective cognitive responsibility" to make sense of Jakobson's work. It almost felt like the kružok's Jakobson himself created in his lifetime (e.g. Moscow Linguistic Circle and Prague Linguistic Circle).
Our best experiences as course organizers happened when we were committed to working through the material ourselves. (Corneli 2014: 39)
This sounds so true to life. I like lecturers who at least seem terribly interested in what they are teaching. In the end it rubs off. Among the local lecturers there are several iterations of the idea that you don't really teach the students the subject. You teach them enthusiasm towards the subject and they will proceed to study it themselves.
The P2PU governance model was said to be based on "rough consensus," after MIT professor David Clark's description of the Internet Engineering Task Force at the July 1992 IETF conference: "We reject: kings, presidents and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and runnig code." (Corneli 2014: 39)
This sounds a lot like the character of Jakobson's circles. The Prague Linguistic Circle reportedly even had the attitude of "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen". I imagine "running code" must have been quite important, literally, as they all spoke several languages and had to switch between them constantly.
Bateson's hierarchy Learning I, Learning II, Learning III, etc., begins with Zero Learning, which denotes no change in the subject, only a stimulus and a reaction that is already "soldered in" (Bateson, 1972, p. 288). As with paragogy, Bateson understands learning to be fundamentally related to change, but in his model, he imposes the requirement that the environment should not change while learning is happening. (Corneli 2014: 43)
As I vaguely remember, Bateson's theory of learning was heavily embedded in behaviorism. Let's see the relevant passage:
Note that in all cases of Learning I, there is in our description an assumption about the "context." This assumption must be made explicit. The definition of Learning I assumes that the buzzer (the stimulus) is somehow the "same" at Time 1 and at Time 2. And this assumption of "sameness" must also delimit the "context," which must (theoretically) be the same at both times. It follows that the events which occurred at Time 1 are not, in our description, included in our definition of the context at Time 2, because to include them would at once create a gross difference between "context at Time 1" and "context at Time 2." (To paraphrase Heraclitus: "No man can go to bed with the same girl for the first time twice.")
The conventional assumption that context can be repeated, at least in some cases, is one which the writer adopts in this essay as a cornerstone of the thesis that the study of behavior must be ordered according to the Theory of Logical Types. Without the assumption of repeatable context (and the hypothesis that for the organisms which we study the sequence of experience is really somehow punctuated in this manner), it would follow that all "learning" would be of one type: namely, all would be zero learning. Of the Pavlovian experiment, we would simply say that the dog's neural circuits contain "soldered in" from the beginning such characteristics that in Context A at Time 1 he will not salivate, and that in the totally different Context B at Time 2 he will salivate. What previously we called "learning" we would now describe as "discrimination" between the events of Time 1 and the events of Time 1 plus Time 2. It would then follow logically that all questions of the type, "Is this behavior 'learned' or 'innate'?" should be answered in favor of genetics. (Bateson 1972: 288)
[Bateson, Gregory 1972[1964/1968]. The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication. In: Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chandler Publishing Company, 279-308.]
As I had guessed, this is indeed rooted in the behaviorist debates of the day. I'm not sure how well the Pavlovian conditioning stuff translates into modern learning theories.
His assertion is that "[t]he notion of repeatablecontext is a necessary premise for any theory which defines 'learning' as change" (Bateson, 1972, p. 296). Bateson does allow a hegde, which is that the context is only "somehow" or "theoretically" the same. The problem is that, here, Bateson is understanding context as "a metamessage which classifies the elementary signal." Rather than talking about a repeatable context, it would be clearer to simply say that the stable classification of signals is what is important. (Corneli 2014: 43)
Is it a good idea to define learning as change? In behaviouristic theories this change was probably understood as a change in the observable behaviour. I find it difficult to imagine learning math as a change in behaviour. "Metamessage" sparked my interest, so I'll turn to Bateson again:
[Continues from the previous passage, on the next page.] We would argue that without the assumption of repeatable context, our thesis falls on the ground, together with the whole general concept of "learning." If, on the other hand, the assumption of repeatable context is accepted as somehow true of the organisms which we study, then the case for logical typing of the phenomena of learning necessarily stands, because the notion "context" is itself subject to logical typing.
Either we must discard the notion of "context," or we retain this notion and, with it, accept the hierarchical series - stimulus, context of stimulus, context of context of stimulus, etc. This series can be spelled out in the form of a hierarchy of logical types as follows:
Stimulus is an elementary signal, internal or external.
Context of stimulus is a metamessage which classifies the elementary signal.
Context of context of stimulus is a meta-metamessage which classifies the metamessage.
And so on.
The same hierarchy could have been built up from the notion of "response" or the notion of "reinforcement."
Alternatively, following up the hierarchic classification of errors to be corrected by stochastic process or "trial and error," we may regard "context" as a collective term for all those events which tell the organism among what set of alternatives he must make his next choice.
At this point it is convenient to introduce the term "context marker." An organism responds to the "same" stimulus differently in differing context, and we must therefore ask about the source of the organism's information. From what percept does he know that Context A is different from Context B? (Bateson 1972: 289)
I would prefer the latter alternative because the notion of "context marker" sound much more useful than "context of stimulus [a]s a metamessage". These two may in fact be related, because metamessage is, by definition, a message about message - which could very well be a "context marker" instead of the context of stimulus as such. Still all of this is beyond my understanding, as the Theory of Logical Types (and most everything else related to Russell) goes over my head.
As an important class of examples, day-to-day communication works largely due to the fact that "the stream of events is commonly punctuated into contexts of learning by a tacit agreement between the persons regarding the nature of their relationship" (Bateson, 1972, p. 304). (Corneli 2014: 44)
This sounds awfully lot like communication about relationship (Bateson's μ-function). Let's see:
Of the multitudinous ways in which Learning II emerges in human affairs, only three will be discussed in this essay:
(a) In describing individual human beings, both the scientist and the layman commonly resort to adjectives descriptive of "character." It is said that Mr. Jones is dependent, hostile, fey, finicky, anxious, exhibitionistic, narcissistic, passive, competitive, energetic, bold, cowardly, fatalistic, humorous, playful, canny, optimistic, perfectionist, careless, careful, casual, etc. In the light of what has already been said, the reader will be able to assign all these adjectives to their appropriate logical type. All are descriptive of (possible) results of Learning II, and if we would define these words more carefully, our definition will consist in laying down the contingency pattern of that context of learning I which would expectably bring about that Learning II which would make the adjective applicable.
We might say of the "fatalistic" man that the pattern of his transactions with the environment is such as he might have acquired by prolonged or repeated experience as subject of Pavlovian experiment; and note that this definition of "fatalism" is specific and precise. There are many other forms of "fatalism" besides that which is defined in terms of this particular context of learning. There is, for example, the more complex type characteristic of classical Greek tragedy where a man's own action is felt to aid the inevitable working of fate.
(b) In the punctuation of human interaction. The critical reader will have observed that the adjectives above which purport to describe individual character are really not strictly applicable to the individual but rather describe transactions between the individual and his material and human environment. No man is "resourceful" or "dependent" or "fatalistic" in a vacuum. His characteristic, whatever it be, is not his but rather a characteristic of what goes on between him and something (or somebody) else.
This being so, it is natural to look into what goes on between people, there to find contexts of Learning I which are likely to lend their shape to process of Learning II. In such systems, involving to or more persons, where most of the important events are postures, actions, or utterances of the living creatures, we note immediately that the stream of events is commonly punctuated into contexts of learning by a tacit agreement between the persons regarding the nature of their relationship - or by context markers and tacit agreement that these context markers shall "mean" the same for both parties. (Bateson 1972: 297-298)
I guess Bateson didn't shake off his influences from Palo Alto in the sixties. The bit about character being a social phenomenon is very much the same stuff Ruesch discusses in relation with psychosomatic illnesses. Simply put, sometimes what we call "mental disease" is not an outcome of a pathological mind but a result of communication disturbances within the group (family, friendship circle, working environment, etc.). I notice that he drew on Dewey and Bentley's The Knowing and the Known in this regard (e.g. the talk of "transactions"). The punctuation of interaction was one of the discoveries of Ray Birdwhistell, another member of the Palo Alto group (notice the distinction between postures and actions). And when he says "such systems, involving two or more persons" he is essentially discussing what he and Ruesch earlier termed a communication system. In this sense "context markers" are not much different from what Ruesch calls "metacommunicative instructions".
The pattern by which we should define Learning III and so forth is now relatively clear. Since "what is learned in Learning II is a way of punctuating events" (Bateson, 1972, p. 305) then what is learned in Learning III is a way of punctuating the punctuation of events - and so on. In other words, Learning II is about creating the boundary conditions in which a given pattern of control will be exercised, subjected to the standard caveat that this control is partial. In a paragogical view, punctiation of this sort could also be called context creation - although often more is involved in context creation than just bracketing. (Corneli 2014: 44)
I don't really see the use of the hierarchical approach (stimulus, context of stimulus, context of context of stimulus). It sound like an overly complex way to go about interaction management. Even Erving Goffman's discussion of the involvent idiom would be more beneficial, I think. But all in all it sounds exactly like the kind of stuff that I would subsume under the notion of channel regulation (a better term doesn't come to mind at the moment).
Here, relationship especially means a context for communication, which as we've seen, means a context for learning, and, more broadly, a context in which cybernetic control is exercised. Bateson shows through many examples that humans and other mammals typically communicate about their most meaningful relationships with one another in nonverbal - i.e., analog - ways. He introduces the term μ functions to describe communication acts, whether digital or analog, spoken or unspoken, which are ways of "voicing" relationship. (Corneli 2014: 45)
As much as I would like to protest that the context has very little to do with it, this is essentially correct. Back in April when I wrote a messy essay on Bateson's μ-function I concluded that he deduced this from his and Ruesch's earlier metacommunication, specifying it as metacommunicative instructions about contact (whether messages pass through, whether they are understood and whether to terminate the contact). Just like with Jakobson's phatic function one steps on thin ice when trying to make sense of the exact nature of the relationship (in Jakobson, the character of contact). From what I found in his collaboration with Ruesch I'd say that he means "relationship" in the very transient sense of "communicative relation", e.g. the fact of communicating at the moment; rather than what we understand as "human relationships", "social relations" or, here, "meaningful relationships". In short, the relationship I think he has in mind for the μ-function is about mutual awareness and influence rather than, say, friendship, intimacy, etc. I may, of course, be mistaken. And in any case it would be interesting to consider both options and if he does mean it in a transient sense, it can be expanded in order to consider more lasting relationships.
Paragogy not only "eschews pipeline models of transmitting knowledge" (Papert & Harel, 1991) but treats communication as an assemblage with emergent properties, constituted by its participants, and subject to the vagaries of existence in the real world. In this respect, we find paragogy at once in both its (em)phatic and productive senses. (Corneli 2014: 48)
I'd suggest the communication system approach of Ruesch and Bateson. Not only because it accounts for these aspects but because it proposes a network (or rather several networks) instead of the pipeline.
In short: paragogy is concerned with generating and voicing the μ functions that sustain relationships in which learning can take place, and through which meaning can be made. (Corneli 2014: 48)
I see the connection between paragogy and the μ-function (or phatic communion, communization, etc.) but I have as of yet very little idea how the μ-function could be elaborated into something like a μ-algorithm.

Lanigan on RJ's Semiotic Theory

Lanigan, Richard L. 1991. Roman Jakobson's Semiotic Theory of Communication. Revised version of a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (77th, Atlanta, GA, October 31 - November 3, 1991).

For most of this century, Roman Jakobson's name will have been synonymous with the definition of communication as a human science, i.e., communicology. I use the future perfect sense, will have to be synonymous, because Jakobson is indeed the modern source of most of what we theorize and practice as human communication. And yet, he will be the source of how we shall come to understand communication in the future as the theoretical and applied use of semiotic principles of epistemology. In short, what we know about communication and how we shall understand it in years to come is the accomplishment of Roman Jakobson. (Lanigan 1991: 2)
Proceeding happily with more hope and fanfare than actual results. This was obviously written before the paradigm shift from Jakobson to Peirce, or at least before Lanigan became aware of it.
Jakobson's point can be summarized and illutrated with a simple comparison of the key features of both communication and information as (1) an account of human choice (an eidetic capacity to judge appearances) and (2) an account of human practice (an empirical capacity to judge appearances). Obviously, the ability to choose is a theoretical capacity, while that of practice is an applied capacity. I use the term capacity here in C. S. Peirce's sense of semiotics, i.e., the human recognition of sign function embodied in a symbol (Lanigan 1988). (Lanigan 1991: 3)
Nope, Lanigan was well aware of Peirce. "Eidetic" is related to mental imagery. The aspect of choice is also what biosemioticians premise the semiotic treshold on (e.g. life is about choices, while lifeless material is dominated by causal processes).
[...] communication is a code phenomenon, while information is a message phenomenon as [...] Jakobson corrects Shannon and Weaver. (Lanigan 1991: 4)
I would have thought these relations were reverse, as communication implies an exchange of messages while information can be viewed as a codification of non-messages.
Within the context of Jakobson's "human sciences model" [...], there is a disciplinary hierarchy moving from linguistics as the study of verbal (i.e., oral) messages, on to semiotics as any type of message, but with the verbal implied, and next, on to the study of any messages as the structural scope of social anthropology and economics, then finally to any form of life as a message exchange system in biology. Indeed, these are the parameters of a theory, the only theory of communication that deserves the name "theory" rather than model. The information model hardly compares on this accourate theory scale! (Lanigan 1991: 4-5)
I knew that on the narrower point of the concaving rings of fields poetics is above linguistics, but I did not know that the biosemiotic field can be appended to the social field. It does make a lot of sense. With the model and theory distinction I would rather argue that Jakobson attempted a communication model while Ruesch was about communication theory (his questions were more thorough than Jakobson's scheme but he didn't diagram his questions).
While Jakobson as a linguist naturally believed in the linguistic sign as the starting place for analyzing the phenomenological nature and function of discourse, his own researches convince us that a semiotic language is the origin of a theory of communication. The proof lies with his own priority for distinctive features as an eidetic phenomenon of realization, i.e., a combinatory inclusion (the distinctive both/and choice), prior to the actualization of a phenomenon as empirical (the redundancy of either/or practice). Simply put, the code as semiotic is prior to the message as linguistic. (Lanigan 1991: 5)
So choice and practice are Lanigan's selection and combination, or even langue and parole. The priority of code is arguable but I get that he's drawing on the passage that says something like the addresser has the code with which he creates the message while the addressee has the message and must deduce the code (I'm paraphrasing, of course.)
Only a code (semiotic) grounds the eidetic combination of "addresser" (speaker) and "interpreter" (thinker) as linked by an empirical message (linguistic). The reverse case, where the empirically linguistic is primary is, indeed, information. (Lanigan 1991: 5)
Thus, the addresser communicates messages while the addressee interprets the information within the message.
No code is available for interpretation because the empirical interpreter as addressee cannot simultaneously view him or herself as an other addresser. Simply put, the addresser both chooses a code (for a message) so that contact (for a context) exists with an addressee and the addresser practice the idea of a code by being the first interpreter of what is said orally. (Lanigan 1991: 5)
This is a mighty fancy way to say that autocommunication precedes intercommunication.
The emotive function of the oddresser is in fact an eidetic display of distinctive (code) features (message) as primary modeling so that, in turn, messages may be coded. (Lanigan 1991: 5)
A neat idea, but false. The emotive function is a semantic function. Bühler warned that if the "semantic" in such a statement is neglected (as Jakobson actually did) then it becomes impossible to avoid pseudo-problems. So, no, the emotive function has very little to do with an eidetic display of distinctive features. The emotive function is a semantic function of the linguistic sign (message). One must not forget that Jakobson's language functions are about the meaning of the linguistic sign, not about the semiotic nature of each component as such.
On the other hand, information is a condition of referential "circularity" in which messages refer to messages and codes refer only to codes. This is the state of the addressee. By inclusive combination, the conative function of the addressee is, in fact, an empirical display of redundancy (message is message) features (code is code) as secondary modeling. This is to say, the addressee must work from the empirical message manifest as language (speech; logos) back to the eidetic code manifest in speech (thought; mythos). (Lanigan 1991: 6)
What? I understand that this is the continuation of the passage that I paraphrased above but, seriously, what? There is no such thing as "the conative function of the addressee". There is the conative semantic function of language structures oriented towards the addressee (e.g. imperatives, vocatives, etc.), but the addressee him- or herself has very little to with it. This is where it becomes apparent that Jakobson's scheme was meant for speech analysis, not communication analysis.
Unless the listener hears the sounds, the place of the linguistic among the other semiotic codes cannot be determined. An interpersonal communication proof from everyday life will suffice here. We all get written telephone call memo notes; we did not hear the caller, so we cannot function as interpreters, which means we are not addressees. The behavioral result, we do not call back; because the message was not part of our conduct of code recognition. (Lanigan 1991: 6)
This is just absurd. First of all, what in the world are "written telephone call memo notes"? Dear jesus, was 1991 that long ago? Secondly, the addressee and the interpreter are not the same. Addressing someone does not necessitate them acting as interpreters. Jakobson's corpus is proof of this: the conative function can be found most often (if not solely) in his analyses of poems, wherein the addressee is a literal addressee, someone for whom the poem was written, or who was addressed in the poem. I can very well write a poem addressed to God. This fact does not necessitate the existence of God nor that he/she/it interpret my poem. Cf. the "celestial addressee" in his analysis of one of Dante's sonnets (Jakobson & Valesio 1981[1966g]: 190).
First, let me discuss the metalinguistic function of the code. Any code operates as symbolic. It is a semiotic function in which one message stands for another. Simple enough, but badly misunderstood when the message per se is symbolic as is the case in language. Simplistic behaviorism is of absolutely no use here because we are in the human world of the symbolic where actions mean, not simply are. (Lanigan 1991: 6)
Let me obfuscate further: language operates as logonomic; it is a renvoi of duplex structures operating as microlinguistic fabula. I am disappointed in this paper, if not in Lanigan. His suggestion to combine Ruesch and Lotman caught me off guard a few years ago and that left a very positive impression. Now I see that he read a few papers by Jakobson and began revising the functions without perhaps fully understanding them yet. I do hope my own work won't come off as if I had a poor grasp of the complexities involved in Jakobson's work. (My paper on the phatic function is going nowhere fast, so this may actually be the case.)