Journal article Open Access

An Extended Meaning of the Concept of "Public Space" A Semiotic Analysis of French "Burqa Affair"

Arêas, Camila

This paper examines the national press coverage of French “burqa affair” (2009-2010) from a semiotics approach within communication studies. By using theories of discourse analysis (such as enunciation, argumentation, rhetoric and pragmatic), we propose to observe how the actors that integrate these debates (among journalists, politicians, religious, experts) assignee different meanings to public spaces and places according to their interests, strategies, political projects and dominant discourse in their work or institutional field. While most academic works about French veil affairs focus on the question of Islamic increasing visibility, the aim of this study is to investigate the issue of Islamic spatiality, which remains as a blind spot for the media debate. Motivated by a spatial or geographical problematic of analysis, the objective of this paper is to retrace the discursive process between 2009 and 2010 that lead to the redefinition of the notion of “public space”. More precisely, we intend to observe how the concept of “public space” is conceived, appropriated and re-signified in and by the press coverage of “burqa affair”. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how this press debate legitimated an extended meaning of the concept of “public space”, bringing to light social, political, normative and affective dimensions of contemporary public spaces and places.

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