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Catharina Nyström HöögProfessor


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Towards a unified affordance approach: searching for congruent meaning making in COVID-19 warning designs

    2021. Per Erik Ekwall, Annelie Ädel, Catharina Nyström. Social Semiotics


    This case study on COVID-19 warning designs in a Swedish context illustrates how a unified affordance approach may contribute to an understanding of the meaning-making in reminders, instructions, cues and prompts that communicate the message “keep your distance.” The analysis combines semiotic and ecological affordance categories, taking both Gibson’s original theorizing on affordances and more recent affordance-informed research efforts into consideration. In so doing, the study aims to bridge a knowledge gap in the study of visual instructions and warning designs as well as in a more comprehensive way delineate the multimodal design strategies associated with COVID-19 warning designs. The analysis shows that Swedish COVID-19 warning designs of the keep-your-distance-kind belong to a non-standardized and emerging genre that is marked by great variation and ad-hoc design solutions, several of which combine physical blocking functions with verbally based messages. The analysis also highlights the tension between verbal and visual recourses, on one hand, and the signage placement and choice of materials, on the other hand. It is concluded that communication resources do not always appear to convey the same basic message, but in incongruent ways weaken what might be considered the intended main message. 

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