The all-seeing eye ofthe city from the perspective of urban communication studies

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The research is carried out from the perspective of urban communication studies and uses the analytical sociolinguistic framework, which provides an opportunity to reveal the role of different semiotic signs in creating the image of a big city as an existential space. The paper focuses on surveillance as a common communication practice and investigates the system of Russian semiotic signs surrounding a citydweller as an object of surveillance. Signs construct the communicative situation of surveillance, which includes a subject, object, place, time, aim of surveillance and the consequences of actions seen as forbidden or undesirable. An important place in the study belongs to the notion of social visibility, which acquires a new meaning in the context of the research. The subjects of surveillance are unidentified representatives of power, whereas its objects are common citizens. Semiotic signs reflect the asymmetry of the social relationship between them (the subject of surveillance is invisible, the object is visible; the state demonstrates the paternalistic attitude towards its citizens). The modality of the message reflects the type of relationship between the subject and the object of surveillance and its social dynamics. The findings indicate that semiotic signs connected with surveillance become a powerful means of social stratification and regulate social relations in Russian urban discourse.


Urban communication, sociolinguistics, semiotics, social visibility, surveillance studies

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IDR: 149129931   |   DOI: 10.15688/jvolsu2.2018.4.20

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