The meaning of power and the power of meaning: pragmasemantics of the relationship between political power and meaning making

The meaning of power and the power of meaning:
pragmasemantics of the relationship between political power and meaning making

Tulchinskii G.L.,

Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad, Russia; HSE University, St. Petersburg, Russia,

elibrary_id: 77845 | ORCID: 00000-0002-5820-7333 | RESEARCHER_ID: B-8509-2016

Article received: 2023.02.25. Accepted: 2023.05.17

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.06.13

For citation:

Tulchinskii G.L. The meaning of power and the power of meaning: pragmasemantics of the relationship between political power and meaning making. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 6. P. 180-188. (In Russ.). EDN: PSTZKQ

The article was prepared with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation, project No. 22-18-00591 “Pragmasemantics as an interface and operational system of meaning formation”.


The emergence and retention of political power presupposes the formation of a certain semantic picture of the world, which explains and justifies the orders implemented by this power. The dominance of such a semantic picture of the world is the basis for the legitimacy of power, the consolidation of society, and a common identity. The semantic worldview is multi-layered and dynamic; not only the political class, but also the humanities, the education system, and personal experience take part in its formation. This process can be represented by the pragmasemantic approach as a cascade of interfaces (contexts) of meaning formation, each of which is operationalized as a value-regulatory system (VRS). From this point of view, political power appears as the main VRS, which, in order to justify its influence on the ordering of others, claims to have the dominant semantic picture of world. The proposed conceptual analysis is based on the content presented in the five-volume collection of V.P. Makarenko, who did a thorough job of systematizing the ideas and concepts of political science in its current state, revealing the paradox and inconsistency of the theoretical constructions of political science. Analytics reveal that understanding the concept of political power at the level of general concepts leads to a paradoxical analogue of theodicy or the set of all sets in the foundations of mathematics. Without power, individuals cannot form a community necessary to achieve the good of each of them, but at the same time, any power is a restriction, suppression of subjectivity. Therefore, just as in theodicy or in the foundations of mathematics, specific meaningful characteristics are applicable not to power in general, but to its specific manifestations. The development of society requires the constructive variability of the reality comprehension and power organization formats, that are capable of generating and maintaining such a variability. Thus, political theory also needs a transition from operating with general abstractions to a constructive understanding of the procedural and operational nature of politics in relation to specific societies, taking into account their current problems and historical experience. This topic acquires a non-trivial significance these days, when the formats of VRS in management, business, science, education, art, and personal life are radically changing.

power, ideology, politics, pragmasemantics, symbolic politics, meaning, semantic worldview.


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Content No. 6, 2023

See also:

Bereznyakov D.V., Kozlov S.V.,
Symbolic Politics in Post-Soviet Ukraine: Construction of the Legitimizing Narrative. – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No4

Editorial Introduction,
Manuscripts Don’t Burn! Introduction to the Rubric “Symbolic Politics”. – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No4

Malinova O.Yu.,
Symbolic politics and the constructing of macro-political identity in post-soviet Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No2

Ratz M.V.,
Policy, management, power: a conceptual project of the system of (the state’s) organizational/managerial activities. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No2

Ratz M.V., Kotelnikov S.I.,
G.P. Schedrovitsky’s ideas in Russian socio-political thought (in commemoration of the 85th anniversary). – Polis. Political Studies. 2014. No3



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