Recontextualisation is a process that extracts text, signs or meaning from its original context (decontextualisation) in order to introduce it into another context. Since the meaning of texts and signs depend on their context, recontextualisation implies a change of meaning, and often of the communicative purpose too. The linguist Per Linell defines recontextualisation as:

the dynamic transfer-and-transformation of something from one discourse/text-in-context ... to another.[1]

Linell distinguishes between recontextualisation at three different levels:

Though recontextualisation often is used within linguistics, it also has interdisciplinary applications. Particularly, in Basil Bernstein's concept of the pedagogic device that consists of three fields: the fields of production, recontextualisation and reproduction. The field of reproduction is the field of schooling institutions. The field of production is the field, where knowledge is produced (often universities). The field of recontextualisation mediates between these two fields. The recontextualisation field "is composed of two sub-fields; namely, the official recontextualising field (ORF) and the pedagogic recontextualising field (PRF). The ORF consists of 'specialized departments and sub-agencies of the State and local educational authorities'. The PRF consists of university departments of education, their research as well as specialised educational media.

Rhetorical scholar John Oddo argues that recontextualization has a future-oriented counterpoint, which he dubs "precontextualization".[3] According to Oddo, precontextualization is a form of anticipatory intertextuality wherein "a text introduces and predicts elements of a symbolic event that is yet to unfold."[4]

See also


  1. Linell 1998: 154
  2. Blommaert 2005: 47-48
  3. Oddo 2013; 2014
  4. Oddo 2014: 78.


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