Essay Cultural Studies: The Semiotic Method

Essay Cultural Studies: The Semiotic Method

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In regards to cultural studies, the semiotic method allows for analysis through different levels of interpreting an image. Semiotics being the study of signs and signification, it directly relates to how one approaches such an analysis because it is one of the tools used for understanding and interpreting social constructs and how meaning is relayed to others. “Within semiotic theory a signifying system such as language is understood as an ordering of signs that constructs meaning within itself through a series of conceptual and phonic differences” (‘Semiotics’ 2004, in The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies). It is language that ultimately gives meaning to objects around us.
Swiss linguist, Saussure argued that “language does not reflect a pre-existent and external reality of independent objects” but that meaning is produced because “signs are different from one another” (Barker, 76). By dividing a sign into separate elements, the signifier (the word) and the signified (the object), it allows a distinction between the word assigned to an object and the meaning of the object, showing how the grouping of the two is arbitrary. Although, it should be noted that language is not the only signifying system, but images, gestures, social behavior, clothes, they all are encrusted with meaning and the elements of symbolic order and understanding. For example, raising your index and middle finger in a “v” shape simply denotes the action, but the connotations associated with it are copious: symbolizing peace for some but for others is seen as an offensive gesture. Like language, it depends on the context.
We build up shared meanings and it is the sharing of those meanings that provides a deeper cultural understanding of signs. Thus, one p...


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...ling, tenderly kissing the baby’s hand, and the baby’s little feet stretching out. All these images are done in what appears similar to an Instagram filter to make the screen appear blue, serene, and calm, which pairs nicely with the slow piano music.
The music speeds up as the screen moves to the forest, filled with very green trees and brown leaves on the path through them. The same camera filter effect is in use. Then we see a group of young boys ride through the shot on bicycles.




Works Cited

‘Semiotics’ 2004, in The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies, Sage UK, London, United Kingdom, viewed 8th December 2013, ).
‘Discourse’ 2004, in The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies, Sage UK, London, United Kingdom, viewed 8th December 2013,

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