Before the consummation what? On the role of the semiotic economy of seduction

Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 30 (4):451-465 (2016)
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Abstract

The cultural practice of flirtation has been multifariously scrutinized in various disciplines including sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis and literary studies. This paper frames the field of flirtation in Bourdieuian terms, while focusing narrowly on the semiotic economy that is defining of this cultural field. Moreover, seduction, as a uniquely varied form of discourse that is responsible for producing the cultural field of flirtation, is posited as the missing link for understanding why flirtation may be a peculiar case of non-habitus, contrary to the received notion of cultural field as set of goaloriented practices and actionable habituses. This argument is pursued by highlighting the endemic traits of ambivalence and constant reversibility of signs or multimodal semiotic constellations in the discourse of seduction, while seeking to demonstrate that seduction, and by implication the cultural field of flirtation, does not necessarily partake of a teleological framework that is geared towards the consummation of sexual desire. This thesis is illustrated by recourse to a scene from the blockbuster ‘Hitch’.

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