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Meaning making in motion: bodies and minds moving through institutional and semiotic structures

Gillespie, Alex ORCID: 0000-0002-0162-1269 and Zittoun, Tania (2013) Meaning making in motion: bodies and minds moving through institutional and semiotic structures. Culture and Psychology, 19 (4). pp. 518-532. ISSN 1354-067X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1354067X13500325


What is meaning? And how does it arise? Werner and Kaplan's approach to symbol formation was prescient in understanding the importance of the body and activity. However, their embodied approach needs to be complemented by a broader conceptualization of social institutions and complex semiotic structures in the genesis and function of symbolic processes. Specifically, human bodies, which are the medium and locus of experience, are embedded in social situations and institutions. Thus embodied experience, the origin of meaning, must be understood as societally structured. Moreover, human experience is never unmediated; it is refracted through the complex semiotic artifacts that comprise human culture, such as discourses, social representations and symbolic resources. The present article focuses on the importance of bodies moving within institutions and minds moving within semiotic structures as a basis for meaning making. We argue that such movement has been neglected; yet, it has the potential to enhance our understanding of how experiences are differentiated and integrated within individuals to produce individuals who are products of society and who also have agency in relation to society.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2014 16:50
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:48

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