A1 Journal article (refereed)
From ‘no dogs here!’ to ‘beware of the dog!’ : restricting dog signs as a reflection of social norms (2021)

Halonen, M., & Laihonen, P. (2021). From ‘no dogs here!’ to ‘beware of the dog!’ : restricting dog signs as a reflection of social norms. Visual Communication, 20(4), 501-526. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470357219887525

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsHalonen, Mia; Laihonen, Petteri

Journal or seriesVisual Communication



Publication year2021


Issue number4

Pages range501-526

PublisherSage Publications Ltd.

Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66559


Signs in public space reflect ‘normalcy’ in a community. The authors ask what restricting signs tell us about a society? In order to explore the system and variation in the ways dog signs manifest different norms and control, they compare two different data sets: dog signs in a Northern European town, Jyväskylä in Finland, and two Eastern European villages in Romania. They apply a qualitative methodology based on visual communication, geosemiotics and linguistic landscape studies. The focus of the article is on the resources of addressing and the visual semiotics of the image. The investigated communities seem to create a complementary distribution of what they regulate that is also displayed through their semiotics: the Jyväskylä examples are prohibitions for dogs ‘being’ while the Romanian cases consist of warnings or threats. Both prohibitions and warnings implicate the norms and normalities in the communities, showing where they stand in terms of a continuum between a ‘dog as a pet’ and a ‘dog as a (co-)worker’. As images, the urban signs in Jyväskylä can be characterized as icons of a small collared pet, placed as a part of top-down communication in ‘tight’ public spaces. In contrast, the photographs of big dogs in the open and private Romanian village spaces refer to some specific guard dog, through which their owners communicate a benevolent warning or an intimidating threat.

Keywordssocial semioticsvisual communicationnormssignboards and platesprohibitionswarnings

Free keywordsdog signs; linguistic landscape; norms; restrictions; social semiotics; threats; visual interaction; warnings

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Related projects

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 19:01