Cultural Studies and Semiotic Methods

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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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...torical context to the music video. The video was released in October 2012 by Seattle based rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis. In the midst of election season, the song was created in support of the campaign for Washington Referendum 74, the legalization of same-sex marriages in Washington State. Within the first 24 hours of it being posted on YouTube, the music video accumulated 350,000 views, and since then has won the 2013 MTV Video Music Award for Best Video with a Message.

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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