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Semiotics is the study of sign processes (semiosis), or signification and communication,
signs and symbols, and is usually divided into three branches: Semantics, Syntactics, and
Pragmatics. Semiotics is frequently seen as having important anthropological dimensions. In
general, semiotic theories take signs or sign systems as their object of study: the
communication of information in living organisms is covered in biosemiotics or zoosemiosis.
This book discusses the theory and application of semiotics across a broad spectrum and has
gathered current research from around the globe.
Chapter 1 - The objective of this chapter is to present how changes in the material culture
of schools can signify the transition from modern to post modern schooling. The material
culture of schools is perceived here as consisting of the architecture of the corresponding
buildings as well as of the material objects (i.e. furniture and equipment) within these
buildings. We draw on the key notions of classification and framing borrowed from the
seminal work of Basil Bernstein in the field of sociology of education which translate
relations of power and control respectively.
Classification examines the relations between categories, whether these categories are
between institutions, social groups, discourses, or practices. By definition, strong
classification formulates well-defined boundaries, whereas weak classification results in
blurred or more permeable boundaries between such categories. In other words strong
classification is predicated on the rule ̳things must be kept apart‘ while weak classification on
the rule ̳things must be put together‘. In this chapter we are especially interested in exploring
the symbolic boundaries which are inscribed in the form of material boundaries in the design
of school space between categories like: a) school as an institution and its social environment,
b) different social groups acting within it, c) different knowledge domains (subjects) and d)
different practices.
Framing refers to the controls on communication that take place within school. If the
material culture of a school promotes explicitly regulated use or to put it differently the
criteria for competent use of school space are both explicit and specific, framing is strong.
Framing is weak in the case that such regulation is either absent or covert.
The notions of classification and framing become operational on the basis of an inventory
of multiple semiotic resources signifying symbolic boundaries and potential uses and
communications within the school space.
The relevant semiotic choices are typified into two distinct registers, one corresponding
to modern (characterized by strong classification and framing) and the other to post modern

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