Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Semiotics and Cultural Constructs

The standard approaches of content analysis, semiotics and ideological critiques are all techniques which allow us to look at the cultural shifts that have taken place over the past few decades. Specifically the importance of postmodernist influences in our society,  they allow us to utilize a variety of different theories and methods to help us understand these shifts and the texts that we encounter everyday. 
While content analysis is a useful and quantitative technique to measure certain aspects of media text, semiotics helps us to untangle meaning through an analytic distinction between the signifier and the signified. 
While a lot of communication studies utilizes this technique, what I found interesting was Saussure's argument that "all signs are cultural constructs that take their meaning from learned, social and collective use." A lot of what we understand and interpret today is all culturally constructed through hegemonic practices that influence meaning. By being able to break this down in the contested meanings of different texts and the cultural constructs that help to create them, allow us to understand the immense abstraction and complexity of signs, meaning systems, and texts that influence our society. 

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