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Unfolding the Semiotic Web in Urban Discourse

In Scientific Cooperation with Daina Teters

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Edited By Zdzislaw Wasik

The main focus of this volume is on urbanity as a discursive way of human life in the city. Discourse is specified here in terms of semiotic codes and processes that link city dwellers as communicating selves into interpersonal and intersubjective collectivities when they create and interpret similar meanings embodied in material bearers. Accordingly, the unfolding of the semiotic web is understood, firstly, as detecting and evaluating the growth and manifestation of the sphere of meaning-bearers or a sequence of meaning-bearing events, and secondly, as identifying and explaining the constituents and aspects of discourse in the light of signs and/or sign-processes that aggregate individual participants of communication into discursive linkages on a lower level and discursive communities – on a higher level of social grouping. Some contributions deal with the discursive properties of human individuals in urban environments, and some others are devoted either to the meta-discourses on the city or discourses in the city.

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Elżbieta Wąsik: Linguistic functionalism and the principle of abstractive relevance in the metaurbanist discourse on art and architecture 123

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Elżbieta Wąsik ADAM MICKIEWICZ UNIVERSITY IN POZNAŃ Linguistic functionalism and the principle of abstractive relevance in the metaurbanist discourse on art and architecture The subject-matter of our presentation will be the notion of function and functionality which had been exposed in the 1930s within the framework of a means-and-purpose-oriented structuralism in architecture, art and linguistics.1 Its task was to discover what is typical and constant and what is accidental and individual, that is, to detach in the structural features of phenomena and states of affair what is relevant and irrelevant with respect to the principal functions they play. 1. Functional view of linguistic structures Functionalist structuralism was an investigative perspective which took as its point of reference the principle of abstractive relevance. Against the background of other varieties of structuralisms,2 developed earlier and later, it postulated to search for functionally relevant proper- ties in the structure of investigated objects, and not as (1) the formalist structuralism in the networks of relationships in which they occur playing a certain role, and not as (2) the distributionalist structuralism in their static allocation in certain environments, or not as (3) the generative- transformationalist structuralism in their abilities to change the dynamic constellation of constituents. Functionalist structuralism distinguished itself by postulating to de- tect functional invariants as the bundle of abstractive features included in 1 Cf. Schaff 1983; Piaget 1968; Robey (ed.) 1973. 2 Discussed by Adam Heinz (1978). Elżbieta Wąsik 124 the realizations of substantial variants. As such,...

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