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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 36, Issue 1, 2008

Peeter Selg, Andreas Ventsel
Pages 167-182

Towards a semiotic theory of hegemony
Naming as hegemonic operation in Lotman and Laclau

The article concentrates on the possibilities of bringing into dialogue two different theoretical frameworks for conceptualising social reality and power: those proposed by Ernesto Laclau, one of the leading current theorists of hegemony, and Juri Lotman, a path breaking cultural theorist. We argue that these two models contain several concepts that despite their different verbal expressions play exactly the same functional role in both theories. In this article, however, we put special emphasis on the problem of naming for both theorists. We propose to see naming as one of the central translating strategies in the politico-hegemonic discourse. Our main thesis is that through substituting some central categories of Laclau’s theory with those of Lotman’s, it is possible to develop a model of hegemony that is a better tool for empirical study of power relations in given social formations than the model proposed by Laclau, who in his later works tends more and more to ground it in psychoanalytic ontology.

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