This book presents a collection of articles which stress that the society is a system of symbolic relations. Individuals are bond together into a collective on the strength of language.
The symbiotic function of language makes individuals relate to one another as a social group, establishing networks of mutual relationships. The symbiotic thought inserts itself between man and woman and nature as a distinct order of reality, a province of its own distinct from nature but functionally necessary to the constitution of a human world.
Three features characterise the function of symbolisation and as a result the symbiotic constitution of the world of humankind. The first feature is?as anything may become a sign, the symbolic function that specifically defines the human mind gives rise to an indefinite number of forms of exchange that can hardly be reconciled with one another. On the other hand, symbolic thinking is the source of, a reason for, any exchange in any of its forms, whatever its contents. But on the other hand, the concord that substantiates the reality of a particular society is far from a consensus even within the limits of a given collective, let alone with other collectives. Language necessarily turns objects of the world into signs?this is the essence and raison d?etre because human beings need to live in groups.
The second constitutive feature of the function of symbolisation is that various series of symbols form chains and aggregates that link up to form composite constructions through correspondence.
The third characteristic of the symbolic constitution of the man world is that the symbolic is not grounded in an analogy of the object and its figure; it originates in an activity of the human mind that takes hold of disparate world elements and organises them in meaningful systems of signs.
All the essays in this book, each in its own analytical way, are attempts to understand the deeper symbolic resources on which various forms of social communication and exchange?occupational and economic, political and social, cultural and religious? are built upon. Three areas have been purposely selected for their particular relevance in communication studies?identity, work and health.
Six of the essays intend to recognise the symbolic landmarks that communities, for example, the Minas in Chapter 3, the Vadars and the Mang in Chapters 4 and 5, a nation as construed by a school of its nationalist leaders in Chapter 1, and even marginalised individuals in Chapters 3 and 6?construe as essential references of their distinct identities and social entities. Chapter 2 lays open the symbolic foundation that modern medical power thrives on.
Seven essays concern themselves with the symbolic grounds of occupational relations that define the social status and identity of artisans in Chapter 7, peasants in Chapter 8, Vader stone-breakers in Chapter 9, Parit washermen in Chapter 10, and birth attendants in Chapters 13, 14 and 15. Practices of work and division of labour are markers of socio-economic collectives and class or gender relations, primarily due to the symbolic value that a society invests them with.
This book is reader-specific and will not hold the attention of the lay reader.
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