social text

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In structuralism and poststructuralism, a textualist metaphor for culture as a system of signs within which meanings and realities are produced and interpreted; in interpretive social analysis, culture and the social world may thus be seen as a text which is amenable to being read for deep meanings or deconstructed—as in the work of Kristeva or the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1926–2006). The conception of social phenomena such as gender, ethnicity, or class as texts rather than as givens enables ideological analysis in terms of alternatives to the dominant reading which seeks to establish them as natural categories (see also negotiated reading; oppositional reading). The notion of social reality as authored is seen by its critics as relativism. Deconstruction dissolves the ontological distinction between text and context, between representation and world. Derrida's declaration that ‘there is nothing outside the text’ enrages literalists.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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