2014 | 15(1) |
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MIĘDZY CZŁOWIEKIEM I BESTIĄ: Role and communication: a zoosemiotic perspective

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The concept of role is wide-spread in social sciences. It is also used in ethology, but only to describe social structure which exists in species under observation. This paper is an attempt to utilize the concept of role in order to analyze cases of social communication in animals. To reach this goal, the meanings of role and its related terms are revisited to understand its different applications in social sciences. Also, a synopsis of role concept usage in ethology is presented and social role is re-conceptualized in a way that permits it to be applied with consideration to other species’ communicative abilities. In other words, this paper analyzes how role concept fits into a zoosemiotic approach. By concentrating on the act of social communication, the interdependent nature of social relationships and their dependence on roles becomes evident. Social roles are created and manifested only in the act of communication and social roles in reverse shape the act of communication. In order for social communication dependent on roles to take place, it is crucial for interacting animals to recognize the context of communication and the other communicative party. To affirm the latter, situations which can be described by terms: role conflict and role change are considered in order to see their effect on communicating animals and on the act of communication itself.
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