Nigerian Presidential Campaign Posters: A Social Semiotic Analysis

Esther Olajumoke Adeagbo


Previous studies on political discourse in Nigeria have focused on the general stylistic, pragmatics and semiotic features but have not significantly explored the combination of socio-semiotic and ideological construct resources in meaning negotiation. This study examines interpersonal function, discursive image and ideological resources used in the Nigerian presidential campaign posters to establish their joint roles in the negotiation of meaning. The study adopted aspects of Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics (1987) and Gunter Kress and Van Leeuween’s (2006) Grammar of Visual Design. Twelve Nigerian presidential campaign posters were purposively selected for their richness in the use of multimodal resources to communicate political sensitive meaning. The data were subjected to socio-semiotic analysis. Interpersonal metafunctions are present in the verbal semiotic mode of the posters. The interpersonal indicates the representation of the politicians’ social relation, evoking political-sensitive feelings, attitude and judgments by means of mood and modality. This mood manifests interrogative mood, imperative mood and declarative mood. Modality is revealed with the use of auxiliary verb. The visual language of the posters manifests different semiotic resources such as: size and sharp focus, information value, salience and framing in constructing representational, interactive and compositional meaning. Two political ideological constructs, connected to images, characterize the posters: continuity ideology and identity ideology. The Verbal and visual socio-semiotic modes deployed in the selected Presidential posters are powerful resources for accounting for meaning in political posters. 


Social semiotic, Campaign posters, Nigeria, Political ideology

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