Susan Petrilli and Augusto Ponzio
Special Session

Difference and Similarity in the  I-Other Relation. Between Two Individualities or Two Singularities?

For Solomon Marcus

In Forms of Meaning: Modelling System Theory and Semiotic Analysis (Mouton de Gruyter 2000), Thomas Sebeok and Marcel Danesi distinguish between two forms of similarity: cohesive form and connective form.

Similarity as cohesive form assigns given individuals to the same class, to the same set. Concepts, types, species, identities are all formed on the basis of similarity as cohesive form. Cohesive form, also called assemblative form,subtends similarity and difference in the I-Other relation. In this case the I-Other relation is determined by the identity of each of its parts, by one’s belonging to this or this other assemblage, organization, to this or this other set, to this or this other type or kind. Consequently, in this relation the I and the other depend on signs that distinguish and differentiate them.

But is this really what the I-other relation must be reduced to? We do not believe so. And this is the belief orientating that particular bend in semiotics we have indicated as semioethics.

With reference to the distinction proposed by Sebeok and Danesi, the other type of similarity and difference is that indicated as connective form. Following Charles S. Peirce it can also be denominated as agapastic form. This type of similarity does not concern individuals that must be assigned to this or this other set, assemblage, type, that must be classified in terms of some fixed identity.

Connective form is not related to what presents itself as the same or as different in terms ofcohesive form. In the case of connective form, similarity in the I-other relation involves relations among singularities and not among individuals, where singularities are irreducible and cannot be eliminated as occurs, instead, when they are assembled and grouped together in a set of some sort, in a concept.

When a question of connective or agapastic form, difference is given by irreducible alterity, uniqueness, non interchangeability of each one of us with respect to every other. The condition of irreducible alterity, of irreducible singularity is inevitably accompanied by responsibility of each one of us for every other, and is a form of responsibility that cannot be delegated.

  • Semiotics and communication

Panel head(s): Dumitru Borțun, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania; Nicolae-Sorin Drăgan, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania.

This panel approaches directly the act or phenomenon of communication in the light of semiotic theory. Its purpose is to develop the premises for a semiotic theory of communication. While communication was explored thoroughly in the light of other disciplines, and, as such, understood within the perspective of sociology, psychology, cognitive sciences, cultural studies or philosophy of language, semiotics accounts for communication as an act of signification. As such, communication is not accounted for as necessarily dependent on categories such as social interaction, cognitive abilities or cultural background, but as purely a phenomenon of signification. This is the most theoretically general and open panel.


  • Why Europe? Narratives and Counter-narratives of European Integration

Special Panel organized by the ECREA Temporary Working Group "Communication and the European Public Sphere"

Panel head: Alina Bârgăoanu, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania

Pressured by what appears as a never-ending crisis, the European Union has to face multiple internal fractures and external pressures. Populism, nationalism and right-wing extremism are seeing resurgence in a number of states across Europe, with consequences on the decision-making process in the European Union. As it became a very familiar narrative in recent years, this phenomenon creates severe discontinuities from the previous EU communication paradigm. The dangers associated with extremism and populism in the political discourse is that in order to meet the increasingly Eurosceptic public opinion, many political leaders artificially oppose the “national interest” to the EU’s interest. Populist tendencies are worth exploring in the light of EU’s multiple difficulties, the immigrant crisis being only the latest one.

This panel welcomes contributions related to the latest communication patterns in the EU, as depicted in the media and in the political discourse. Our aim is to promote a critical, yet constructive, approach on European integration. Contributions may include, but are not restricted to:

  • Narratives and counter-narratives of disruption: nationalism, populism and extremism
  • The multiple crises of the European Union: fuelling far right movements
  • Symbolical representations of intra-EU fractures: East-West/North-South divides and the “Brexit”
  • Public opinion in the EU
  • Populism, nationalism, and/or extremism across EU member states (the discourse of the political leaders, public opinion, media research, etc.)
  • Framing the European Union in turmoil contexts
  • Social media and extremism
  • EU Communication as a means of resurrecting the “European idea”
  • Europeanization models and narratives – recent developments

A broad goal of this edited panel is to explore new theoretical and empirical frameworks that might explain how current communication practices, including media visibility and framing, public discourse, citizens’ perceptions and participation, influence the development of a European arena of communication.