Multilingualism Research Forum/ Flerspråklighetsforum: Scaling the pandemic dispositive: a multimodal analysis of mask-requirement signs during 2020

Jannis Androutsopoulos (Professor II, MultiLing and Professor of German and Media Linguistics, Universität Hamburg) will discuss the emergence and transformation of pandemic signage during 2020.

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Jannis Androutsopoulos smiling and wearing a black shirt and navy blue jacket

Jannis Androutsopoulos

Photo: UiO


This paper uses the notions of dispositive and scale to explore the emergence and transformation of pandemic signage, focusing on a subset of regulative signs, i.e. requests to wear a mask. Based on a crowdsourced dataset of pandemic signs collected in Hamburg, a multimodal analysis examines the multimodal resources sign-makers mobilize to create mask-requirement signs, and the change of these signs in the transition from the first to the second pandemic wave during 2020. The findings show that regulative measures within the pandemic dispositive, are scaled, i.e. given a particular spatio-temporal validity. This scaling is not a single definitive act, but dynamically iterated as regulation changes its scope. The iterative fitting of directive acts such as face-mask requests to orders of spatio-temporal validity is reflected in the multimodal makeup of regulative signs, whose linguistic, pictorial and composition choices shift as mask-wearing regulations are rescaled to cover outdoor space.


Jannis Androutsopoulos is Research Professor (Professor II) at MultiLing and Professor of German and Media Linguistics (Linguistik des Deutschen und Medienlinguistik) at Universität Hamburg. For further details about his research and publications please see his staff page

Published Jan. 26, 2022 10:44 AM - Last modified Feb. 4, 2022 10:45 AM