The Work of Representation Essay Essay

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1 Representation. significance and linguistic communication

At first we have to cognize that:

Representation is an indispensable portion of the procedure by which significance is produced and exchanged between members of a civilization. It does affect the usage of linguistic communication. of marks and images which stand for or represent things. And ugly it is non a simple or straightforward procedure. How this article researching the construct of representation connect significance and linguistic communication to culture? We will be pulling a differentiation between three different history or theories:the reflective. the knowing and the constructionist approaches to representation. Most of this text will be researching the constructionist attack with two major discrepancies or theoretical accounts of the constructionist attack. the semiotic approach- Ferdinand de Saussure and the dianoetic approach- Michel Foucault. But we have to reply the inquiry first:what does the word representation truly mean?

1. 1 Making significance. Representing things

Representation is the production of the significance of the constructs in our heads through linguistic communication. There are two procedures. two systems of representation. First. there is the system by which all kind of objects. people and events are correlated with a set of constructs or mental representations which we carry about in our caputs. (like chair. table)
Second. Language is hence the 2nd system of representation.
( When we say we belong to the same civilization. it is because we interpret the universe in similar ways. That’s why civilization is sometimes defined in footings of shared significance or shared conceptual maps. However we must besides able to stand for or interchange significances and concepts. )

The relation between things. constructs and marks lies at the bosom of the production of intending in linguistic communication. The procedure which links these three elements together is what we call Representation.

1. 2 Language and Representation

As people who belong to same civilization must portion a loosely similar conceptual map. so they must besides portion the same manner of construing the marks of a linguistic communication.
In the SHEEP illustration:
In order to construe them. we must hold entree to the two systems of representation: to a conceptual map which correlates the sheep in the field with the construct of a sheep: and a linguistic communication system which is ocular linguistic communication. bear some resemblance to the existent thing of expressions like it in some manner.

The relationship in the system of representation between mark. the construct and the object to which they might be used to mention is wholly arbitrary. ( Tree will non mind if we used the word Seert to stand for the construct of them )

1. 3 Sharing the codifications

The significance is constructed by the system of representation. It is constructed and fixed by the codification. which sets up the correlativity between our conceptual system and our linguistic communication system in such a manner that. every clip we think of a tree the codification tells us to utilize the English word TREE. or Chinese word ? .

The codification tells us that in our civilization!
One manner of believing about civilization is in footings of these shared conceptual maps. shared linguistic communication systems and the codifications which govern the relationships of interlingual rendition between them.
Not because such cognition is imprinted in their cistrons. but because they learn its conventions and so bit by bit become civilization individuals. They unconsciously internalize the codifications which allow them to show certain constructs and thoughts through their systems of representation.

But of our societal. cultural and lingual conventions. so intending can ne’er be eventually fixed. we can all hold to let words to transport slightly different significances. Social and lingual conventions do alter over clip.

1. 4 Theories of representation

In the brooding attack. significance is thought to lie in the object. individual. thought or event in the existent universe. and linguistic communication maps like a mirror. to reflect the true significance as it already exists in the universe. We can besides name it as mimetic attack.

The 2nd attack to significance in representation argues the opposite instance. It holds that it is the talker the writer. who imposes his or her alone significance on the universe through linguistic communication. Wordss mean what the writer intends they should intend. This is the knowing attack.

The 3rd attack recognizes this populace. societal character of linguistic communication. Thingss don’t mean: we construct intending. utilizing representational systems. Hence it is called the constructionist attack.

1. 5 The linguistic communication of traffic visible radiations

The simplest illustration of this point. which is critical for an apprehension of how languages map as representational systems. is the celebrated traffic visible radiations illustration. Harmonizing to the constructionist attack. colourss and the linguistic communication of traffic lights’ work as a signifying or representational system. In the linguistic communication of traffic visible radiations. it is the sequence and place of the colourss. every bit good as the colourss themselves. which enable them to transport significance and therefore map as marks. It is the codification that fixes the significance. non colourise itself. This besides has wider deductions for the theory of representation and significance in linguistic communication. It means that marks themselves can non repair intending. Alternatively. intending depends on the relation between a mark and a construct which is fixed by a codification.

Meaning the constructionist would state. is relational.

2. Saussure’s bequest

In the of import move. Saussure analysed the mark into two farther elements. There was. he argued. the signifier. and there was the thought or construct in your caput with which the signifier was associated. Saussure called the first component. the form. and the 2nd component the signified.

Signifier: The word or image of a Walkman. for illustration
Signified: The construct of a portable cassette-player in your caput
Saussure besides insisted on what we called the arbitrary nature of the mark: There is no natural or inevitable nexus between the form and the signified. Signs do non possess a fixed or indispensable significance. What signifies. harmonizing to Saussure. is non Red or the kernel of red-ness. but the difference between RED and GREEN.

Signs are members of a system and are defined in relation it the other members of that system.
Furthermore. the relation between the form and the signified. which is fixed by our cultural codifications. is non for good fixed.
BLACK is dark. evil etc.
BLACK is beauty.
However. if pregnant alterations. historically. and is ne’er eventually fixed. so it follows that taking the significance must affect an active procedure of reading. There is a necessary and inevitable impreciseness about linguistic communication.



2. 1 The societal portion of linguistic communication

Saussure divided linguistic communication into two parts.

1. The first consisted of the general regulations and codifications of the lingual system. which all its users must portion. if it is to be of usage as a mean of communicating. Saussure called the construction of linguistic communication. the langue. 2. the 2nd portion consisted of the peculiar Acts of the Apostless of apeaking or composing or pulling. which are produced by an existent talker or author. He called this. the word. For Saussure. the implicit in construction of regulations and codifications was the societal portion of linguistic communication. the portion which could be studied with the law-like preciseness of a scientific discipline because of its closed. limited nature. The 2nd portion of linguistic communication. the single speech-act or vocalization. he regarded as the surface of linguistic communication.

In dividing the societal portion of linguistic communication from the single act of communicating. Saussure broke with our common-sense impression of how linguistic communication works…… The writer decides what she wants to state. but she can non make up one’s mind whether or non to utilize the regulations of linguistic communication.

Critique of Saussure’s theoretical account

In his ain work. he tended to concentrate about entirely on the two facets of the sign-signifier and signified. He gave small or no attending to how this relation between signifier/signified could function the intent of what we called mention. Another job is that Saussure tended to concentrate on the formal facets of language-how linguistic communication really works. However. Saussure’s focal point on linguistic communication may hold been excessively sole. The attending to its formal facets did divert attending off from the more synergistic and dialogic characteristics of linguistic communication. Subsequently cultural theoretician learned from Saussure’s structural linguistics but abandoned its scientific premiss. Language remains lawful. But it is non a closed system which can be reduced to its formal elements.

3. From linguistic communication to civilization: linguistics to semiologies

The general attack to the survey of marks in civilization. and of civilization as a kind of linguistic communication. which Saussure foreshadowed. is now by and large known by the term semiologies. The Gallic critic. Roland Barthes. he brought a semiotic attack to bear on reading popular civilization. handling these activities and objects as marks. as a linguistic communication through which significance is communicated.

In much the same manner. the Gallic anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. non by analysing how these Amazonian peoples. but in footings of what they were seeking to state. what messages about the civilization they communicated.

In the semiotic attack. non merely words and images but objects themselves can work as forms in the production of significance. Clothes. for illustration. In this illustration. we have moved from the really narrow lingual degree from which we drew illustrations to a wider. cultural level……Barthes called the first. descriptive degree. the degree of indication: the 2nd degree. that of intension.

3. 1 Myth today

In his essay Myth today. in Mythologies. Barthes gives another illustration which helps us to see precisely how representation is working at this 2nd. broader cultural degree. a. A black soldier is giving the Gallic flag a salutation.

B. The Panzani ad for spaghetti and veggies in a twine bag as a myth about Italian national civilization. Think of ads. which work in the same manner.

4. Discourse. power and capable

Already. in Roland Barthes’s work in the sixtiess. as we have seen. Saussure’s lingual theoretical account is developed through its application to a much wider field of marks and representations. Semioticss seemed to restrict the procedure of representation to linguistic communication. and to handle it as a closed. instead inactive. system…some people had more power to talk about some topic than others. Models of representation. these critics agued. ought to concentrate on these broader issues of cognition and power.

Foucault used the word representation in a narrower sense than we are utilizing it here. but he is considered to hold contributed to a novel and important general attack to the job of representation. What concerned him was the production of cognition through what he called discourse.

His work was much more historically grounded. more attentive to historical specificities. than the semiotic attack. As he said ‘relation of power. non relation of meaning’ were his chief concern.

4. 1 From linguistic communication to talk about

Foucault studied non linguistic communication. but discourse as a system of representation. By ‘discourse’ . Foucault meant ‘a group of statements which provide a linguistic communication for speaking bout a peculiar subject at a peculiar historical moment… . Discourse is a turn the production of cognition through linguistic communication.

Discourse. Foucault argued. ne’er consist of one statement. one text. one action or one beginning. The same discourse. feature of the manner of thought or the province of cognition at one clip. will look across a scope of texts. and as signifiers of behavior. at a figure of different institutional sites within society. However. whenever these dianoetic event refer to the same object. …… . so they are said by Foucault to belong to the same dianoetic formation.

Nothing has any pregnant exterior of discourse.

4. 2 Historicizing discourse: dianoetic patterns

Thingss meant something and were true. he argued. merely within a specific historical context. He thought that. in each period. discourse produced signifiers of cognition. objects. topics and patterns of cognition. which differed radically from period to period. with no necessary continuity between them.

The mental unwellness illustration
The homosexual illustration
The hysterical adult female illustration
Knowledge about and patterns around all these topics. Foucault argued. were historically and culturally specific. They did non and could non meaningfully be outside specific discourse.


4. 3 From discourse to power/knowledge

In his ulterior work Foucault became even more concerned with how cognition was put to work through dianoetic pattern in specific institutional scenes to modulate the behavior of others. This foreground processing of the relation between discourse. cognition and power marked a important development in the constructionist attack to representation which we have been sketching. Foucault’s chief statement against the classical Marxist theory of political orientation was that it tended to cut down all the relation between cognition and power to a inquiry of category power and category involvements.

Second. he argued that Marxism tended to truth. But Foucault did non believe that any signifier of idea could claim an absolute truth of this sort. outside the drama of discourse. The Gramsci’s theory has some similarities to Foucault’s place. Knowledge linked to power. non merely assumes the authorization of the truth but has the power to do itself true.

The Regime of truth!
Second. Foucault advanced an wholly fresh construct of power. We tend to believe of power as ever radiating in a individual way and come from a specific beginning.
It is deployed and exercised through a net-like organisation. This suggests that we are all. to some grade. caught up in its circulation- oppressors and oppressed.

4. 5 Charcot and the public presentation of craze

The activity 7. look the figure 1. 8 and reply the follow inquiries. ( page 54. )

5. Where is the topic

The conventional impression thinks of the topic as an person who is to the full endowed with consciousness……it suggests that. although other people may misconstrue us. we ever understand ourselves.

Indeed. this is one of Foucault’s most extremist propositions: topic is produced with discourse.
Foucault’s capable seems to be produced through discourse in two fidderent senses or topographic points.
First. the discourse itself produces capable.
But the discourse besides produces a topographic point for the topic.
Subject-positions



5. 1 How to do sense of Velasquez’ Las Meninas
5. 2 The topic of/in representation
Look the Diego Velasquez’ Las Meninas. and follow the inquiry in activity 9.

6. Decision: representation. significance and linguistic communication reconsidered

Representation is the procedure by which members of a civilization usage linguistic communication to bring forth significance. Meaning. accordingly. will ever alter. from on civilization or period to another. Because significances are ever altering and stealing. codifications operate more like societal conventions than like fixed Torahs or unbreakable regulations.

In semiotic. we will remember the importance of signifier/signified. langue/parole and myth. and how the marker of difference and binary resistances are important for intending. In the dianoetic attack. we will remember dianoetic formation. power/knowledge. the thought of a government of truth. the manner discourse besides produces the topic and defines the subject-positions from which cognition returns and so. the return of inquiries about the topic to the field of representation.

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