A view on A.J. Greimas's essay “the semiotic analysis of a legal discourse: Commercial laws that govern companies and groups of companies”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Greimass essay is semiotics at its best, situated between a politically and philosophically static approach which is too often rather conservative, and a full-fledged dynamic profile which criticizes the foundations of (corporate) law from a semiotic viewpoint and puts the legal use of the concepts ˜person or ˜subject in perspective. As a consequence, the major focus is on law and legal practices rather than on semiotic theories or Peircean/Saussurean philosophy. Subject is the law regulating commercial companies (French Law 1966) and the idea of trying to determine the semiotic status of a group of companies. Greimas position differs from brute pluridisciplinarity�, Greimas underlines, and he focuses on simple questions to answer, such as: What are the specific properties of legal language? What is a commercial company? What does the legislator of these groups of companies think�? The outcome, via semiotic discourse analyses, leads to the recognition of the huge influence on linguistic articulation of social forms and formats of the legal grammar. The consequences for analyzing and understanding the relevant building blocks of law and legal discourse seem valid in Civil- as well as Common Law practices. Greimas suggests a working hypothesis, which suggests that the narrative properties certain sequences of legal discourse possess, authorizes one to use general narrative models to highlight the organizational structures of certain legal discourses, and more particularly, those regarding commercial groups and companies. If legal practice is thus a production of law, of new legal rules and significations, as well as a recurring procedure of verification of the validity of the instituted legal language, and if that production requires naming things� and inscribing predictable events� into the modal grid of command, incentives, interdictions, requirements, assessments, etc.then its schematization into nicely autonomous but interconnected oppositions, contradictions and complementarities, provides the pathways within which the actions of the objects of law can be tested against laws grammar and semantics. This connection drove Greimas initially to a consideration of the business of corporations in an effort to discover their legal essence. The same is very much in evidence in the efforts undertaken in the United States to recognize the legal authority of corporations to embrace a religion, and then to impose that religion on its employees, customers and others (under the protective cover of state power). That ensoulment has as its objectives to convert the juridical person incarnated in corporate form to the religion of its principal shareholders, so that they might form a more perfect community of like-minded religious souls for the conduct of economic affairs and the enhancement of the spiritual well being of their stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSigns in Law - A Source Book
Subtitle of host publicationThe Semiotics of Law in Legal Education III
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783319098371
ISBN (Print)9783319098364
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Psychology


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