Governing (Through) Affect: A Social Semiotic Perspective of Affective Governance in Singapore

  • Carl Jon Way NgEmail author
Part of the The M.A.K. Halliday Library Functional Linguistics Series book series (TMAKHLFLS)


Singapore is sometimes thought of as the technocratic state par excellence, with the government regularly invoking its supposed track record of pragmatic, rational policy-making and cautioning against the dangers of populist politics. Despite this, developments in Singaporean governance have not been exempt from the trend of the affectivization of politics and government observed in many other polities, though not necessarily with the same specific contours or to the same degrees. This has had an effect on the way government policy and agenda are presented to Singaporeans and how the political leadership communicates with and marshals the support of Singaporeans in general. Such governance implicates affective dynamics on the part of citizen-consumers as well as politicians, bureaucrats and other government-related actors fronting and implementing policies and programmes. This constitutes a form of affective governance where particular kinds of affect are cultivated and managed in the interest of governing and mobilizing citizens. In this chapter, I examine how this affective governance plays out discursively in the context of Singapore’s broader neoliberal-oriented governance, focusing on discourse and communication related to (the promotion of) government policy and programmes in (higher) education, skills and lifelong learning. Adopting a multimodal discourse-analytic approach that considers both linguistic and visual semiotizations, the analysis considers how affect is marshalled in and through this discourse, as well as how particular affective subjectivities are valorized in process.


Governance Affect Neoliberalism Policy Multimodality Singapore 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.City University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

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