Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Ehrat, Johannes. Power of Scandal: Semiotic and Pragmatic in Mass Media

Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Ehrat, Johannes. Power of Scandal: Semiotic and Pragmatic in Mass Media

Article excerpt

Ehrat, Johannes. Power of Scandal: Semiotic and Pragmatic in Mass Media. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011. Pp. xvi, 407. ISBN 978-1-4426-4125-9 (cloth) $52.50.

Johannes Ehrat argues that scandal exists only as a result of public opinion. And so this volume is first of all a study of public opinion. Second, the book uses religious scandals to illustrate the workings of both public opinion and scandal. Third, Ehrat attempts to develop a theoretical model of scandal based on semiotics, building from the reality of public opinion and scandal. He then applies the model to the cases.

The first chapters take a theoretical approach. Chapter 1 reviews research on scandal and spells out some characteristics: the role of the media, the logic of sanction, the way that scandal functions as an "industrial product and institutional practice" (p. 15), the role of a narrative of publicity as a condition of scandal. Chapter 2 connects this to the public sphere and the idea of publicity. Chapter 3 develops a semiotic theory of publicity. Some of the section titles give a good sense of the content: the historical- cultural role of public opinion, public opinion as theatre, and the operation of public opinion as enunciation. Finally, Chapter 4 puts the theoretical pieces together by considering "publicity in media theory. …

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