Interpreting George W. Bush: A socio-semiotic illustration and a performance extension
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In this article I analyze the official portrait of U.S. President George W. Bush to exemplify my previous theoretical elaboration of an interpretive analytics of the sign based on socio-semiotics and symbolic interactionism. President Bush’s official portrait is analyzed paradigmatically and syntagmatically as a complex multimodal text. I examine this sign diachronically by reflecting on the processes of production, distribution, and especially consumption of the portrait occurring throughout his tenure and within the exo-semiotic context of the American and World society at the turn of the millennium. In particular, I focus on the socio-semiotic process of interpretation by building upon Start Hall’s coding/decoding model. Thus, I offer an overview of how hegemonic, oppositional, and negotiated codes are constituted by and in turn constitute discourses about the objects represented in this picture. In conclusion, I examine how social semiotics can be used to view semiosis as an everyday socio-political performance.