An Official Matter: Life and Death During the Sanitary Crisis. Semiotics and Philosophy in Times of Pandemic


  • Vasile Hodorogea PhD, University of Bucharest, 90, Panduri av., 5th District, Bucharest, Romania



government communication, social contract, common good, utilitarianism, pandemic


Over a million cases of infected people, thresholds and dramatic records constantly exceeded, the voices of the State and of the civil society covering each other in search of validation, an alienated and disoriented population – this is the general picture of a Romanian society trying, on one side, to understand a global phenomenon and, on the other side, to adapt to situations, norms and regulations that has not been encountered for generations. In an effervescent social, economic and political context, the Coronavirus pandemic tests the whole society and forces the State to react, both through concrete measures (rules, restrictions) and through education and awareness campaigns. The official messages transmitted by the State, through the media and in the form of commercials, advertisements, are subject to an evolution in visual and verbal aspect, which can be questioned both in terms of philosophical theories such as utilitarianism or social contract, and from the semiotic perspective of the meanings carried by these messages. How is the "common good" found in the education and awareness campaigns for wearing protective masks and for frequent sanitation and disinfection? And if Rousseau's "common good" is not fully visible in the mask that "can save your life," is the general goal of the government campaign one of a utilitarian nature? To what extent does the promise of the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain appear, as described by John Stuart Mill, in a campaign built on "saving lives" and "protecting others"? This research advances the proposition of a perception analysis of the meanings conveyed in the television commercials from the official awareness and education campaign regarding the Coronavirus pandemic, between March 2020 and January 2021, decanted in terms of basic semiotic and philosophical concepts and theories.


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How to Cite

Hodorogea, V. (2021). An Official Matter: Life and Death During the Sanitary Crisis. Semiotics and Philosophy in Times of Pandemic . Journal for Social Media Inquiry, 3(1), 119-135.

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