Resemiotization: An organizational semiotic approach

Prof Theo van Leeuwen, University of Southern Denmark

This paper will introduce the emerging area of organizational semiotics, sketching its origins in collaborations between social semioticians and scholars from the field of organization and management studies, and outlining its agenda.

It will then argue for resemiotization (Iedema, 2001, 2003) as a key approach to organizational semiotics, which needs to combine ethnography and semiotic analysis, as the stages of the resemiotization process result from the way organizational practices are organized and managed, and manifest themselves in particular uses of particular semiotic resources and in the discursive transformations this engenders.  

The approach will be exemplified by a study of the practice of producing sexual and reproductive health information resources in a non-government Family Planning organization. Here written documents couched in specialized language are first resemiotized in ‘Easy English’ and in design briefs for graphic designers and audio-visual producers, and then into richly multimodal web pages, printed brochures, posters and videos produced for specific communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and young people in both these categories.  Analysis will focus on the way the organization’s resemiotization practices make sexual and reproductive information more accessible and culturally appropriate, but also transform the information through specific deletions, substitutions, additions and rearrangements.

The paper will end by showing how resemiotization analysis may benefit organizations with respect to a range of practices.


Iedema, R. (2001) Resemiotization. Semiotica 37 (1-4): 23-40

Iedema, R. (2003) Multimodality, resemiotization: extending the analysis of discourse as multi-semiotic practice. Visual Communication 2(1): 29-57