human ecology
Language

Reflective, Intentional, and Constructive Theories of Representation

The Reflective theory of representation is that language mirrors true meaning as it exists in the world.

The Intentional theory of representation is that words mean what the author intends them to mean.

The Constructive theory of representation is that neither things in themselves nor the individual users of language can fix meaning in language. Instead meanings are contextual - it is the particular symbolic code that fixes a meaning at a particular time.

Source: Hall, S. (1997b, pp.24-26) "The Work of Representation"

These theories may be more useful definitions than 'objective' and 'subjective', terms that seem difficult to assign sometimes. Or they may be useful as a different view or question for classifying languages or disciplines.

Model Reflective Constructive Intentional
Scientific Objective Contextual Subjective
Sociological Objective Subjective (Trivial)

There are other ways of reading this of course. Economics can be both subjective and objective at the same time (Shiva). Subjective in the sense that it is (supposedly) based of the individual preferences of economic agents. Objective in the sense that the free market is being imposed on third world nations (structural adjustment) in return for loans.



Created 27/2/99
Last modified 8/11/99