Communicating Europe: a social semiotic approach

  • Antonio Piga
Keywords: social semiotics, genre, discourse, style, critical discourse analysis


The failure of the referenda in France and the Netherlands in May and June 2005 plunged the EU into its deepest and most serious crisis since its foundation. During the ‘period of reflection’ declared by the European Council in June 2005, EU institutions clearly recognized the need to understand this lack of democratic legitimacy in terms of communicative action, thus paving the way ‘to close the gap’ with citizens and face this sense of alienation felt from Brussels. In addition, the recent trend of globalization has had a great impact on a variety of different domains; the result being that the contemporary world has been fostering the formation of a corporate-model to increase profit-making opportunities. The paper sets out to investigate the diachronic changes of the rhetorical and pragmatic linguistic strategies from the point of view of «the key dimensions of social semiotics» (van Leeuwen 2005: 91), namely discourse, genre and style, and uncover displacement of «communicative» practices with «strategic action» (Habermas 1987: 333), which in turn entails a purely instrumental rationale. In particular, EU discourse pre- and post- the referendum fiasco is investigated in terms of how it constructs representations of the social world and the EU political and institutional process itself; how it contributes as a means of EU institutional process; and how it conveys a particular EU identity connected to particular values.


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How to Cite
Piga, A. (2013). Communicating Europe: a social semiotic approach. Rhesis. International Journal of Linguistics, Philology and Literature, 4(1), 65-93.