- Basics
   - Semiotics
   - Culture
   - Applied
   - Unscience
   - Examples


In my previous section (Applied), I have provided a more detailed illustration of how semiotics can be applied in order to shed light on gender roles. I will now provide a further brief list of some other examples where semiotic theory can be applied in order to yield insights. And in this, we might get a feel for the importance of semiotics, and the difficulty that exists in writing about it. For ultimately, we are venturing into old, even ancient, territory best relayed in terms of metaphor and abstractions - as has been practised for centuries among the different world religions. How does one write about "everything"?


The role of leader as synthesizer. Good strategy means good synthesis, assimilation (association) of many variables into a single conceptualization. The semiotics of Stephen Covey's 7 habits.


The relevance of desire to culture. Culture is the source of personal desire, because it is culture that presents the options from which everyone must choose. Dasein (the desire to be) sheds light on the contexts of desire, and what it is that motivates people to make choices. More importantly, how desires emerge, and the mechanisms by which desires can be manipulated.

Some articles have been published on the relevance of memetics to marketing, but memetics falls wide of the mark because it is based in the unproven assumptions of genetic determinism, and fails to confront the nature of desire and the logics within which they are based. The imitation upon which memetics is based does not address the importance of association and choice. (Meme, defined as "a unit of imitation" - a simplistic interpretation of "sign", based in a genetic deterministic perspective).


Cultural control taking into account human desires and the societal structures to either manipulate or attain synergy with human desires.

What is the impact of laws that encourage "rights" for criminals? For example, a criminal's right to sue. Is there justification for a legal system whereby criminals must forfeit their rights? What is the systemic impact of the current, liberalist tradition of giving proven criminals air-time and home-comforts provided for by the state? What are the messages being sent? How does all this impact on social pressure, peer pressure and how victims and oppressors see themselves as they get older?

The semiotics of "liberal" politics and its impact on a victim culture. The semiotics of "conservative" politics and its impact on pro-active culture.


Do high-school bullies, male or female, stop being bullies when they "mature" into adults? Or do they then go on to employ different methods of bullying, for example, social bullying (eg., relational aggression among women), where the cultural norms of "proper behavior" are employed to exclude and to deny? The jollity and bonhomie by which the rigid rules of proper behavior are defined and enforced ensure a peaceful society where getting along with others is the greatest good. Thus we have a secular, utilitarian morality ensuring the greatest good for the most people. What is it that is lost in the pursuit of this type of morality?

What is the role of a strong family unit in providing guidance and direction?

What is the role of rejecting peer pressure, of speaking out against oppression and coming to the defense of those in need, in squelching oppression? What is the role of complicity, of reluctant aquiescence, in endorsing oppression and giving it life?

The semiotics of oppression. "Nice guys" finish last and morality is for losers. But can a world (culture) exist which reverses all of this? Can a world exist that flips the pecking-order as we have come to know it? From the perspective of semiotics, the answer is an unqualified..... YES! But were we to go to such an alien world, we would not recognize any of the norms or the nature of the heirarchy.


So, we are told, the offspring of parents working in the high-tech industries, are showing disturbing, increasing trends in autism. But does not the cold, logical detail of computer programming have something logically in common with the cold, emotional detachment of autistics? That is to say, autism is not an illness at all, but rather, a choice - a particular, logical way of viewing the world emerging from experience.

To regard it as a disease or an illness is to miss the point. From the perspective of semiotics, we have good reason to regard autism, like depression and peer pressure, as a choice.

The same is true of most any other psychological "condition" (such as schizophrenia or neurosis) that is not the consequence of organic brain damage.


The choices we make shape all that we become. That's why artists think differently to accountants, why engineers think differently to politicians, why men think differently to women. When an accountant goes to university to study his craft, he establishes a personality (semiotic) attractor that will preclude him from thinking in ways inconsistent with that attractor. The lines of narrative of an accountant are different to the lines of narrative of an artist and, an accountant can no more "choose" to become an artist tomorrow than can an artist become an accountant.


The importance of cultural logics in management styles. For example in Australia, the cultural logic of mateship(a more intense form of cameraderie between men than what is experienced in other cultures) is the tip of an iceberg of cultural logics based on the need for social approval and a stong external locus of control. In understanding this, we are now in a position to understand the more subtle aspects of goal congruence, as they relate to meeting employees' needs. We can better understand, for example, when and how innovation works or fails (innovators and revolutionaries are logically inconsistent with the need for social approval, yet sometimes they can emerge in spite of it). The importance of congruence between the logics (culture) of a business and the logics of the societal culture within which it is embedded.

All this takes us beyond the Hamiltonian notions of utilitarian morality and the Prisoner's dilemma, into the deeper questions concerning the nature of desire, motivation and culture - the fact that human personality cannot be viewed in isolation from culture.


Traditional investments = high levels of material commitment, high behavioral momentum, high levels of habituation.

Hi-tech investments = low levels of material commitment, little behavioral momentum, low levels of habituation, and thus...... high volatility.

Internet businesses that are to be successful will somehow have to incorporate the high volatility and low habituation into an appropriate strategy.

Internet markets are characterized by low habituation and thus, low commitment. Internet activity and behavior are typically in "superficial-scan" mode. While internet purchasing behavior seems to be characterized by low habituation, this is not entirely correct, because what is happening is people are replacing their habit of interacting with worldly objects with a new habit. Where the former habit engaged a person's mind-body unity with the world of objects, the new habit of internet-scanning disengages the mind-body unity from the real world. The new habit of superficial scanning implies a whole new logical format for behavior with very different priorities and desires. Thus the psychology of the internet presents a whole new ball-game as to how businesses on-line should be managed. Here, we are moving away from superficial, "objective" techniques as written about in management handbooks, towards the deeper mechanisms of cognition and phenomenology and the motivations for making choices.


What is the impact of the availability of contraception and abortion on whether we see children as loved or as commodities, as people or as pets, and how does this feed back to shape culture? How does the misuse of contraception and abortion "interfere" with the mind-body unity, and the choices that men and women make? Are men's and women's choices today dumber than they were before the sexual "revolution"?


The fact that animals can be domesticated provides an example of how animals bred by humans have their own ways of "assimilating" with the human culture. Further, the domestication of animals provides insights regarding the mind-body unity and its place in adapting to culture. That is, because dogs and cats don't have vocal-chords or hands, their cultural assimilation is within the terms of behavior of domesticated dogs and cats as we have come to know them.

Not only can dogs and cats be enculturated, but studies on social animals such as chimpanzees and apes have revealled that they too, possess their own cultures.

And if animals can be enculturated into our own civilized worlds, can humans be feralized, to attain the psychologies of wild animals? With our knowledge of semiotics, another unqualified YES! John McCrone provides some compelling insights. In particular, go to his pages on feral children and Helen Keller.


The semiotics of being provided for, versus being the provider. The habituation of being provided for verus the habituation of providing. The semiotics of choice versus survival. The semiotics of reactive complicity versus proactive action.

We know that idle people very rarely acquire wealth on their own merits. The number of cents in the dollar that idle people earn will be somewhat less than the number of cents in the dollar that busy people earn.

Is idleness chosen, or is it imposed? Prove it.

Replace "userid" with "tramont":

Last updated January 2005
Stephen Springette