The article investigates the role played by symbolism in political theory and research. A key distinction is drawn between the two fundamental theoretical functions of symbolism, the articulation and the activation of actors’ subjective events. Symbols considered as articulators are coextensive with subjectivity, and reveal it through its manifestations: utterances, actions, images, etc. Symbols in their role of activators trigger subjectivity through the specific channel of emotion. Their emotional appeal is a peculiar trait that distinguishes symbols from other “ideal” activating factors, such as values and morality. The emotional meaning of the symbols derives from the distance between the symbol and the symbolized thing, which is a characteristic feature of the symbolic “standing for”. Distance may assume several different forms: semiological, ontological, logical, and behavioral. Metaphorical language is an example of semiological distance, Jung’s archetypes and Durkheim’s “social facts” illustrate a distance that is ontological because involves different levels of reality. But most important from our point of view are the logical distance and the behavioral distance. Logical distance refers to the space existing between the concrete and the abstract, and the function typically imputed to symbolism is to bridge this space, creating “concrete” objects of cathexis. Behavioral distance refers to the space existing between the producers of the symbols and their receivers. In politics such a space is the distance of power dividing the élites and the non-élites. Distance between the concrete and the abstract promotes primarily the production of symbols that represent the abstract things in some concrete forms that further common feelings and identification among the people who share them. Distance between power élites and non-élites promotes primarily the production of symbols that substitute tangible goods (Edelman) or private motivations (Lasswell). Both kinds of symbolism are present and tightly intermingled in symbolic power, where compliance imply group-identity, and often manipulation and false consciousness.

Ricordo di Giorgio Fedel. In margine a Simboli e politica

GOIO, FRANCO
2016

Abstract

The article investigates the role played by symbolism in political theory and research. A key distinction is drawn between the two fundamental theoretical functions of symbolism, the articulation and the activation of actors’ subjective events. Symbols considered as articulators are coextensive with subjectivity, and reveal it through its manifestations: utterances, actions, images, etc. Symbols in their role of activators trigger subjectivity through the specific channel of emotion. Their emotional appeal is a peculiar trait that distinguishes symbols from other “ideal” activating factors, such as values and morality. The emotional meaning of the symbols derives from the distance between the symbol and the symbolized thing, which is a characteristic feature of the symbolic “standing for”. Distance may assume several different forms: semiological, ontological, logical, and behavioral. Metaphorical language is an example of semiological distance, Jung’s archetypes and Durkheim’s “social facts” illustrate a distance that is ontological because involves different levels of reality. But most important from our point of view are the logical distance and the behavioral distance. Logical distance refers to the space existing between the concrete and the abstract, and the function typically imputed to symbolism is to bridge this space, creating “concrete” objects of cathexis. Behavioral distance refers to the space existing between the producers of the symbols and their receivers. In politics such a space is the distance of power dividing the élites and the non-élites. Distance between the concrete and the abstract promotes primarily the production of symbols that represent the abstract things in some concrete forms that further common feelings and identification among the people who share them. Distance between power élites and non-élites promotes primarily the production of symbols that substitute tangible goods (Edelman) or private motivations (Lasswell). Both kinds of symbolism are present and tightly intermingled in symbolic power, where compliance imply group-identity, and often manipulation and false consciousness.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2885456
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