Intracultural Awareness in Legal Language—Silvio Berlusconi’s Iconography of Law



Against the assumption that legal and normative systems are coextensive with geopolitical units and national spaces, the article advocates for the need to study how different legal and normative semiospheres, within the same geopolitical unit and national space, often give rise to ‘normolects’ that are transversal to socio-economic classes, ethnicities, and cultural lifestyles. The concept of legal and normative ‘imaginaries’ is useful to come to terms with the legal and normative semiotic ideology of such normolects, including their non-verbal dimension and legal-normative semiotic ideologies. More generally, the article prompts legal scholars, and particularly semioticians of law, not to focus exclusively on inter-cultural awareness in legal-normative language but to concentrate also on intra-cultural awareness. As a case study, the article analyses a drawing through which the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visualized and advertised for a bill of reform of the Italian judicial system by his Minister of Justice, Angelino Alfano. The semiotic analysis of this visual artifact casts new light on the controversial political and judicial figure of Mr Berlusconi. The drawing is read as a visual embodiment of the conflict between two different legal and normative ideologies within the present-day Italian political and judicial arena. The paradoxes that underpin this iconography of law and mar a rational confrontation of legal-normative arguments in contemporary Italy are uncovered.


Legal and normative systems Legal and normative ideologies Normolects Legal and normative imaginaries Intercultural awareness Intracultural awareness Silvio Berlusconi Contemporary Italy Iconography of law Judicial reform 



I thank the two anonymous reviewers of the article for their excellent suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di FilosofiaUniversità di TorinoTurinItaly

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