Textuality, Social Science and Society

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


The conflict that exists in our culture between the vocabularies of scientific discourse and of narrative discourse, between positivism and romanticism, objectivism and subjectivism, and between system and lifeworld can be synthesized through a poetics of truth that views social science and society as texts. The metaphor of textuality has two primary elements: semiotics of structure, referring to the syntax and grammar of knowledge and society, and hermeneutics, referring to semantics and pragmatics in the means that are conveyed through performances in specific settings. As this imagery is applied to social practices, it construes selves and societies as emerging from communicative interaction. Textual analysis of society reveals that received forms of knowledge are determined by structures like language, and that these structures are invented through acts of speech. Textuality can be seen as an adequate paradigm for civic communication, since it stresses the agency of speakers and enables us to join explanation of the regulative principles of our systems with understanding of meaning in our lifeworlds.




Harvey Brown, Richard. "Textuality, Social Science and Society." Issues in Integrative Studies 7 (1989): 1-19.