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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.509

CiteScore 2018: 0.23

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.232
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.478

Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2009, Issue 175


The semiotic actor: From signs to socially constructed meaning

Martin Helmhout / René J. Jorna / Henk W. Gazendam
Published Online: 2009-06-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2009.053


A semiotic actor creates, uses and transfers or communicates meaning with the help of signs in order to interact with other actors and society. For a complete understanding of the cognitive and social phenomena related to this process, we state that social science and cognitive science cannot stay in their own arenas. The use of social constructivism or construction sheds light on the relationship and interaction between the individual (cognition) and society.

The semiotic actor is not merely a stimulus response actor that exchanges signs; it has a cognitive system that creates new signs, modifies (the meaning of) signs, and forgets signs (cognitive limited semiosis). Secondly, the semiotic actor has the capability to incorporate and influence the environment (semiotic Umwelt or “outer” world) as part of its cognitive “inner” world. And thirdly, linguistic capabilities allow it to socially construct and share meaning with others, thereby empowering itself and others to create social structures and express social behavior (e.g., reciprocity, empathy).

The contribution of our work is to emphasize that social construction needs to be grounded in cognitive science, i.e., the semiotic actor or homo semioticus enables us to reason that signs in social science are represented as signs in cognition and the other way around (semiotic resonance).

Keywords:: social construction; norms; cognition; cognitive architecture; organizational semiotics; semiotic actor

About the article

Published Online: 2009-06-05

Published in Print: 2009-06-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2009, Issue 175, Pages 335–377, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2009.053.

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