Encountering Semiotic Misdirection in Covid-19 Etiquette Guides


  • Arsenii Alenichev University of Amsterdam


This paper examines Global health misdirection unfolding at the semiotic level of Covid-19 related texts and images produced by the World Health Organisation. I argue that such public health materials, claiming neutrality and universal applicability, become multimodal etiquette guides that presume normal bodies and middle-class social environments. I give specific attention to how Covid-19-related materialities, affordances and emotive actants directly contribute to elite-making, stratification and strategic cultivation of shame and embarrassment with regard to Covid-19 etiquette. By tracing such an example of ‘semiotic misdirection’ in global health, I invite STS and adjacent communities to approach the circulation of public health materials as a semiotic practice that creates novel kinds of oddities and stratifications, and to consider the enactment of seemingly neutral and value-free public health rules as morally-charged etiquette.


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Special Issue: Misdirection in Global Health



How to Cite

Alenichev, A. (2022) “Encountering Semiotic Misdirection in Covid-19 Etiquette Guides”, Science & Technology Studies, 35(2), pp. 97–111. doi: 10.23987/sts.110461.