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Semiotica

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

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel


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

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1613-3692
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Volume 2015, Issue 205

Issues

Signaling equality: On humor and other semiotic resources that serve disagreement and display horizontal hierarchy

Einav Argaman
Published Online: 2015-05-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0002

Abstract

This paper studies the public display of horizontal hierarchies. Drawing on a naturalistic paradigm, audio- and videotaped presentations of college students were investigated. The students presented in class before their peers. Excerpts that comprise disagreement between equals were selected for analysis. The primary assumption was that disagreements can serve as a potential risk to horizontal hierarchies. Hence, they serve as an interesting source for exploring if and how colleagueship is sustained. The analysis shows the use of various verbal and nonverbal semiotic resources (including humor), which display the shift students make between assuming power and signaling equality. The sequential organization of disagreements (detailed in the paper) pertains to the building blocks (i.e., a contest and a retreat from confrontational positions) that comprise horizontal hierarchy. These building blocks are exhibited in different turns and within turn-constructional components.

Keywords: horizontal hierarchy; power relations; disagreement; semiotic recourses; humor; conversation analysis

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About the article

Einav Argaman

Einav Argaman (b. 1969) is a lecturer at the Levinsky College of Education. Her research interests include talk and embodiment in educational institutions, hierarchical relationships, the manifestation of disagreement, and change processes. Her publications include “Assuming positions: Organizational change as mediated through metaphors” (2007); “In the same boat? On metaphor-variations as mediating the individual voice in organizational change” (2008); “Explaining educational experience: On one- and two-handed gestures as semiotic entities and the flexibility of their use” (2010); and “Teachers’ words and verbal expressions of resistance to change” (with G. Alexander, 2013).


Published Online: 2015-05-19

Published in Print: 2015-06-01


Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2015, Issue 205, Pages 169–190, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0002.

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