Presentation on theme: "SEMIOTICS Deductive linguistic analysis. Semiotics “the study of signs” Ferdinand de Saussure Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer."— Presentation transcript:
Semiotics “the study of signs” Ferdinand de Saussure Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as 'signs' in everyday speech, but of anything which 'stands for' something else. –words –images –sounds –gestures –objects
In Other Words: A feminist semiotic analysis of parole decision making for federally sentenced women in Canada.
Objectives To describe the language differences between the parole hearing decisions of federally sentenced women who were granted parole and the decisions of women who were refused parole between October 1, 1999 and March 31, 2000. Compare the entire population of women’s regular parole hearing decisions (N=42) from October 1, 1999 through March 31, 2000 with an equivalent random sample number of men’s decisions from the same time period (n=42).
Source of Data Written parole decisions obtained through the Decision Registry. - public domain (available through written application). - contains the exact wording for the hearing reasoning that the Parole Board provides to the individual up for review. - All identifiers removed.
Semiotic Analysis Cont’d Psychological Reports Mental health disorder mentioned in 60% of women’s decisions, only 36% of men’s. Types of disorders… Research does not support psychological treatment reducing recidivism in women, yet my research suggests that even in cases where therapy appears to be ineffective, the National Parole Board of Canada is imposing it upon women asking for conditional release.
Semiotic Analysis Cont’d Parole Board Knowledge Overt Moralizing : - “ After beginning to abuse cocaine, you began your descent into hell and committed a more serious crime: the current sentence.” Lack of Understanding v. Lack of Remorse : - National Parole Board tends to focus on a woman’s cognitive understanding and focus on a man’s display of emotional remorse. This may be a reflection of the Board’s undermining of a woman’s intelligence and of a man’s emotional awareness, which is clearly based on hegemonic knowledge.
Semiotic Analysis Cont’d Parole Board Knowledge Vulnerability: “Your impressionability, naivety and magical thinking made you agree to become involved in drug trafficking, with the complicity of your sister, whom you claim to have influenced.” Programs: - Correlation regardless of gender with being granted parole and successfully completing correctional/community programming…despite previous research findings.
Semiotic Analysis Cont’d Parole Board Knowledge Familial Ideology: - Three times more likely to have statements regarding family in women’s decisions. Victim Labeling: Mentioned Past/Present Victimization Women Denied: 33% Women Granted: 66% Men Denied: 15% Men Granted: 40%
Left-out Knowledge Women’s Decisions: - lack of subject statements in denied decisions: “insufficient evidence of change”. Subject statements needed corroboration of agents. Men’s Decisions: - more subject statements, but also more evidence of rejection due to lack of agent support: “You have told the Board that you have been on psychiatric medication since you were at _ for a bi-polar disorder. Your Parole Officer (Institution) appears to know nothing of this and there is no psychiatric information on your file. Thus the Board is unable to determine whether you have been formally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and what impact such a diagnosis might have on your overall assessment of risk.
Slashed Subject/Reification Slashed Subject: recognized less for being in control of what he or she says and how he or she says it than for being regulated through the activity of speech. Reification: the slashed subject, after feeling powerless in the previous exchanges, adapts her/his language to conform to the discourse of the agents using their master signifiers and the knowledge of the receivers.
Reification WOMEN: reify their statements using the master signifiers of risk, protection of the public, and reintegration/rehabilitation and frame them in statements emphasizing psychological disorders, family situation and victimization. - “At your hearing you were very candid with the Board about your psychological vulnerability to intoxicants and your awareness that you must be vigilant about abstinence. Although you have a tendency to deflect responsibility for your behaviour onto external circumstances, ultimately you recognize that the choice remains with you.”
Reification Cont’d MEN: focus on the master signifiers of risk, protection of the public, and reintegration, often framed in testimony emphasizing programming. - “You were forthright with regard to your substance abuse problem. You understand that programming will take priority over employment upon release into the community.”
Conclusion Without critically examining the language that the National Parole Board uses and the origins of this language, we are ignoring the silencing of the subject up for parole. The language of release created by the National Parole Board through the intersection of psychological, legal and correctional jargon cannot be interpreted by individuals outside of these fields, creating a discourse of release.