The heroes of the pandemic: On the Discursive Construction of ‘the Healthcare Workers’ Collective during the COVID-19 Crisis

By: Sebastián Moreno Barreneche


Volume: 07
Issue: 01:2021
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2021.0002
Pages: 9-29
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Discursive semiotic mechanisms



Besides its impact in health, economics, and politics, the COVID-19 pandemic was the source of phenomena of a discursive nature, specifically regarding the solutions found by societies to make sense of the crisis caused by the uncontrolled spread of the virus. This article analyzes from a socio-semiotic perspective the construction process of the collective identity of “the healthcare workers” during the pandemic. After generally introducing semiotics as the discipline interested in meaning-making and signification, the article studies four semiotic mechanisms present in the discursive construction of any collective identity. It then moves on to its main goal: the analysis of the functioning of those four mechanisms in the specific case of “the healthcare workers,” a collective identity that, since the beginning of 2020, has been central in the narratives that emerged around the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it should render visible the semiotic mechanisms of segmentation, actorialization, generalization, and axiologization.


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