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Meaning as a Social Artifact: a Conceptual Review Paper
Published in Sociologia n.1/2018 - Rivista quadrimestrale di Scienze Storiche e Sociali dell'Istituto Luigi Sturzo, diretta da Andrea Bixio | This conceptual paper is aimed at describing the very nature of meaning, advancing its sociological understanding as both process and artifact, both interaction and norm. Such a theoretical perspective mainly owes its theoretical assumptions to thinkers such as John Locke, Ferdinand De Saussure and Roland Barthes, coming up with an original conception and definition of meaning as a “flexible social artifact”. It draws on the analysis and critique of a variety of social theories (from deconstructionism to hermeneutics) but inscribes within the tradition of symbolic interactionism, therefore it describes meaning as intrinsically subjective but constantly objectified and provided with the coercive power that characterizes social institutions, while introducing the ideas of social reliability and responsibility. The study, in fact, is eventually meant to underscore the ethical limits of an absolute subjective interpretation of meaning, hence to advance the hypothesis that emphasis should be posed on the social agreement that subjectivity itself implies.