Linguistic Landscape, Law and Reflexive Modernity
This chapter links the linguistic landscape, that is, the visible texts in the modern urban environment, to the evolution of law within what has been termed ‘reflexive modernity’. A major symptom of reflexive modernity is the rise of ‘managerial’ modes of governances. Law and regulation are blurred within juridification, and the citizen is positioned simultaneously as subject to rules and as the consumer of state services under a civic contract. Signage in the cityscape merges legal warnings, regulatory advice and exhortatory appeals. Law, regulation and civic responsibility are not clearly—semiotically—distinguished. These processes are illustrated using examples from Hong Kong and mainland China. In Hong Kong, the cityscape shows increasing density of regulatory signs, safety warnings and appeals to citizens to adopt appropriate modes of behaviour. In mainland China, the linguistic landscape has been semiotically softened, with similar exhortatory appeals and cartoon-like figures representing the police. The citizen is situated in this process as a consumer-partner rather than merely the subject of law’s disciplinary control. Managerial modes of governance are visible at immigration checkpoints, with the ‘traveller-consumer’ invited to evaluate the ‘service’. It is argued that there is a degree of convergence in the linguistic landscape of these two very different jurisdictions (both within the People’s Republic of China) which reflects the rise of reflexive modernity and managerial modes of governance.
KeywordsPublic Space Immigration Official Audit Culture Reflexive Modernity Hierarchical Norm
- Bauman, Z. 2000. Liquid modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Campos, P. 1998. Jurismania: The madness of American law. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Cookson Smith, P. 2006. The urban design of impermanence: Streets, places and spaces in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Mccm Creations.Google Scholar
- Habermas, J. 1987. The theory of communicative action, vol. 2, Lifeworld and system: A critique of functionalist reason. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
- Hsing, Y.T., and K.L. Ching. 2010. Reclaiming Chinese society: The new social activism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hunt, A., and G. Wickham. 1994. Foucault and law: Towards a sociology of law as governance. London: Pluto.Google Scholar
- Maine, H. 1861. Ancient law. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
- Shohamy, E., and D. Gorter (eds.). 2008. Linguistic landscape: Expanding the scenery. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Staddon, J. 2008. Distracting Miss Daisy: Why stop signs and speed limits endanger Americans. Atlantic, on-line edition, July/August 2008, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/traffic. Accessed 17 Dec 2009.