Signs, social ontology, and critical realism

Abstract
Even though sign-systems are a crucial part of society, critical realism, as developed by Roy Bhaskar, does not yet have an adequate theory of signs and semiosis. The few suggestions that Bhaskar offers can be advanced through the semiotics of C.S. Peirce. In doing so, however, it becomes necessary to reconsider Bhaskar's ontological domains of the real, the actual, and the subjective, and expand the last domain into one of semiosis. This new understanding of ontological domains, incorporating Peirceian semiotics, provides the basis for rethinking the ontology of society: the customary dyad structures/agents becomes the triad structures/agents/discourses, each of which possesses material, sociological, and meaningful aspects.
Keywords Semiosis  Social ontology  Peirce
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