New rules for the spaces of urbanity.

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The best way to conceive semiotical spaces that are not identical to single buildings, such as a cityscape, is to define the place in terms of the activities occurring there. This conception originated in the proxemics of E. T. Hall and was later generalized in the spatial semiotics of Manar Hammad. It can be given a more secure grounding in terms of time geography, which is involved with trajectories in space and time. We add to this a qualitative dimension which is properly semiotic, and which derives from the notion of border, itself a result of the primary semiotic operation of segmentation. Borders, in this sense, are more or less permeable to different kinds of activities, such as gaze, touch, and movement, where the latter are often not physically defined, but characterized in terms of norms. Norms must be understood along the lines of the Prague school, which delineates as scale going from laws in the legal sense to simple rules of thumb. Such considerations have permitted us to define a number of semio-spatial objects as, most notably, the boulevard, considered as an intermediate level of public space, located between the village square and the coffee house presiding over what Habermas called the public sphere. Urbanity originates as a scene on which the gaze, well before the word, mediates between the sexes, the classes, the cultures, and other avatars of otherness. However, this scenario is seriously upset but the emergence of the cell phone and other technical devices, as well as by the movement of populations.
TidskriftInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
StatusPublished - 2013

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