” A skill to studying media is using semiotics, which came from ancient Greek word semelion, Modern semiological analysis was started by two men – Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and American philosopher Charles Saunders Peirce (1839-1914). “Semiology, literally the science of signs, but more precisely the study of meaning production, examines the process whereby language, whether visual, verbal or a combination of the two, produces meanings” (Horne et al, 1999, p. 167). So how is meanings generated and conveyed? Boyd-Barrett.
O et al supports one of Bignell’s assumption by (2002, p. 134) stating “The essential breakthrough of semiology is to take linguistics as a model and apply linguistic concepts to other phenomena – texts – and not just language itself… we treat texts as being like languages, in that relationships are all important, and not things per se. ” What Boyd-Barrett is saying is that linguistics comprises of different codes and messages and varies within different cultures hence meanings are may be interpreted or perceived in different ways – different signs.
Semiogological analysis is primarily concerned with meaning in texts and that meaning stems from relationships amongst signs. A sign, Saussure tells us, is a combination of a concept and a sound-image, a combination that cannot be separated, he further explains how there is no logical connection between a word and a concept or a signifier and signified. For example, if ‘champion’ was the signifier, the signified image could range from ‘trophy’, ‘best team/individual’ or ‘glory’ to name a few. It is based on associations we learn and the relationships are arbitrary and changing all the time.
Real Madrid have won the champion’s league the most times with nine, however the audience/media do not represent Real Madrid being a ‘champion’ team having not achieved any ‘glory’ or participating in the final since they last won it eight years ago in 2002. Bignell. J (2002) explains if we ‘denote’ something, we label it. The linguistic sign ‘Manchester United’ denotes a particular football team, and along with the denotative or labelling function of these signs to communicate a fact come extra associations which are called ‘connotations’.
Because ‘Manchester United’ are the latest ‘Champions League’ and Premiership winners, they can be used to connote signifiers of best or most successful football team. From the Telegraph(2008) on 16th September Richard Bright Headlines reads “English clubs will dominate Champions League predicts Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (chairman of Bayern Munich)” Telegraph. The word ‘dominate’ signifies power, ruler, in control and status or importance.
English teams are getting a ‘representation’ of being superior in The Champion’s league after the last final in May 2008 comprised of three English clubs in the semi finals and two in the final and the fact an English team has made every final since 2005. Representation refers to the construction in any medium of aspects of ‘reality’ such as teams, people, places, objects, events, cultural identities and other abstract concepts. “Semiotic approaches consider the construction of meaning, language and systems of representation. There are varying traditions, approaches, definitions and applications of semiotic analysis.
The work of Saussure, Pierce, Barthes and Hall have been influential in the ways in which semiotic approaches have been developed as a key approach to textual analysis and within cultural studies” (Chandler,2002,p. 7 Hall, 1997). Having already looked at Saussure, let’s look into works of other theorists leading up to Barthes and Hall. Various media analysts, during the last century have developed theoretical explanations of how audience receives, associates, reads and responds to a text or ‘sign’ by media texts and the influences they may induce – ‘constructing reality’.
The Hypodermic Needle Model, dating from the 1920s was a theory suggesting that audiences passively absorb information transmitted via a media text without any attempt to process or challenge the data. Governments then had just discovered the power of advertising to communicate a message and created propaganda in persuading the public to their way of thinking. During the 1960s, as the first generation to grow up with television became adults, it became increasingly evident to media theorists that audiences made choices about what they did when consuming texts.
Far from being a passive mass, audiences were made up of individuals who consumed texts for different reasons and in different ways. In 1948 Lasswell suggested that media texts had the following functions for individuals and society: surveillance, correlation, entertainment ,cultural transmission. Blulmer and Katz expanded this theory and published their own in 1974, expressing that individuals might select and use a text for the following purposes (i. e. uses and gratifications): Diversion – escape from monotonous routines.