AbstractThis paper investigates the social semiotic practices surrounding use of information graphics within the specialized discourse of Civil Engineering. It combines the theoretical considerations of multimodal social semiotics and New Literacy Studies, which offers a conceptualisation of meaning-making as social practice. Methodologically, the paper draws on data collected as part of a twoyear ethnographic investigation into the meaning-making practices introduced to students in a civil engineering higher education programme offered by a large, public university in Johannesburg, South Africa. Data was collected through observation and reflection on the part of the researcher, as well as through collection of documentary artefacts. Three broad social practices surrounding the use of information graphics in Civil Engineering are identified, each of which is characterised by the representational functions they fulfil. The three types of graphics are metaphorically labelled as display case, catalogue and clock face graphics. These are described, and the features of each explained. The paper concludes with brief reflection on how delineation of the social practices associated with information graphics enables understanding of civil engineering knowledge – and the communication and representation thereof – as socially organized
Copyright (c) 2019 Zach Simpson
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