Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Gesellschaftliche Reproduktion und kulturelle Innovation. Aus semiotischer Sicht / Social Reproduction and Cultural Innovation. From a Semiotic Point of View

Social Change in the "Aperspectival World". The Paradox of Social Reproduction and Cultural Innovation

Farouk Y. Seif (Antioch University Seattle, WA)



In the wake of postmodern cultures, social constructivists have been advocating for the necessity to animate and lead social change. This posture suggests that change is a panacea capable of solving social and cultural dysfunctions. Though Jean Gebser is not generally considered a semiotician, his work, The Ever-Present Origin, raises several socio-semiotic problems. Particularly, Gebser's notion of the "aperspectival" world challenges social change enterprise, and argues that societies cannot be transformed (changed) by technocratic rationality or materialistic determinism. Since Gebser is a major scholar who thematizes these points, we cannot avoid taking him as a crown witness of social meaning and significance, despite the fact that semiotic specialists have neglected him. Considering the simultaneity and paradoxical relationship between reproductions and innovations in culture and society, the notion of "change" itself warrants a critical scrutiny and triggers basic questions: i.e. what is the ultimate purpose of social change? How does social change bring about a sense of wholeness? Who is the real change agent? What role can a social change agent play in the process of intervention? Who decides? Drawing mainly on the ideas and vocabularies of Gebser within the framework of Peirce's infinite semiosis and metalanguage characteristic of semiotics, this paper explores the nature of social change and continuity in the context of of innovation and reproduction. And by approaching social change as a semiotic phenomenon, it advances a different awareness and understanding of an emerging new teleology of social and cultural change.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-09