Political semiotics in non-political genres: investigating multimodal manipulation

Conference paper


Castaldi, J. 2022. Political semiotics in non-political genres: investigating multimodal manipulation.
AuthorsCastaldi, J.
TypeConference paper
Description

In the introduction to a special issue of the Journal of Language and Politics, Machin and van Leeuwen (2016) advocate for a broader analysis of political discourse, moving from a narrow definition, i.e. “parliamentary discourse, election campaigns, party programmes, speeches, etc.” (p. 243) to all those semiotic manifestations that can be considered political. TV travel documentaries fall within this category and this paper, using semiotic and cognitive lenses, explores how manipulation can be achieved through them.
The paper begins with an overview of the concepts of manipulation and epistemic vigilance (Sperber et al., 2010). Then, drawing on a novel methodological approach for the analysis of media effects (Castaldi, 2021), it exemplifies the analysis of multimodal manipulation by looking at extracts from BBC travel documentaries. The first analytical step, the semiotic filter, is carried out through a multimodal discourse analysis that draws on constructs borrowed from Social Semiotics (Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996, 2001; van Leeuwen, 1999) and Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies (Machin and Mayr, 2012; Machin, 2014). The second, the cognitive filter, employs principles from Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1995) to investigates media effects and manipulation in individual media interactions. The research process is framed within an Audience Research methodology (e.g., Schrøder et al., 2003) which grants viewers agency over the mediated interactions.
To conclude, the paper proposes an initial definition of multimodal manipulation and highlights a set of top-down and bottom-up processes that allow manipulation to occur.

KeywordsMultimodal manipulation; Travel documentaries; Audience research; Relevance theory
Year2022
Conference15th World Congress of Semiotics
Official URLhttps://www.semioticsworld.com/
File
File Access Level
Controlled
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Oct 2022
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/92qq6/political-semiotics-in-non-political-genres-investigating-multimodal-manipulation

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