Recap: What was covered last week?
Started to look at anchorage
Summary: The Media Influence
The way we think…
Of the world – the way it is organised & run?
Other people – social groups?
What is good/bad or right/wrong?
What is important?
How we should act and behave?
• Students will consider semiotics and how it
can be used to assist with analysis and the
evaluation of media texts.
• Learning Objectives:
• To define key semiological terms and
provide examples of their use within a
media studies context.
Final hand in for: A textual analysis
of a print advertisement
Question 1 of exam: requires an analysis
of an audio/visual or print based extract
What can you see?
-Can you see a young woman?
-Can you see an old woman?
-Can you see both?
•Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols
All media texts are constructed using a variety of signs. Everything
that can be seem or heard on a screen or a page is a sign.
•Signs are all objects and things which surround and form part of
our culture. Language is also a sign system.
•Signs have no intrinsic meaning! Meaning is based on social context
(where the sign appears and with what other signs)
•The meaning of signs is therefore dependent on cultural agreement
and acceptance. E.g. shared assumptions by a group
Semiotics and culture
Cultural context gives meaning to signs
• A sign is made up of a signifier (the thing used to represent the
concept e.g. a word, gesture, sound or a picture), or what is
• A sign is also made up of a signified (the idea or concept of a thing)
or what is connoted.
Cute, fluffy domestic
animal which represents
home life... or?
• Describe ‘Signifier’ in
relation to this.
• Describe ‘Signified’ in
relation to this.
C S Pierce argued that there are at least 3
types of sign:
•Icon: The iconic sign is a direct representation
of the object or thing signified e.g.
•Symbolic: A sign which does not look like the object
or signified but has come to be accepted with a
particular meaning e.g.
•Index: An indexical sign is a sign that suggests
other meanings as a connected referent e.g.
What is a CODE?
A combination of signs - that give a sense of the whole.
A system or set of conventions – requiring mutual understanding.
Example: Morse code, Highway code, dress code?
Media Example: Opening credits of TV news or Front cover layout
of a daily newspaper or magazine
Everything we see in a text, whether it is
a print text or moving image, will contain
meaning communicated through codes.
In an MS1 response it is important that
you can understand those codes and also
to offer connotations and not just a
denotation of the codes contained
within a text.
Denotation – This is the simple description of
what can be seen in the text before meanings
are attached to it. For example, the
denotation of a red rose is a flower with a
Connotation – This is the meaning placed
upon the code or sign according to its context.
For example, a red rose will have different
meanings when on the shirt of a rugby player
or in a fragrance advert.
A SIMPLE COMMUNICATIONS MODEL
Two Types of Code
Secondary codes (technical)
colours, NVC, etc
Media specific e.g.
camera, angle &
• Dress Codes: Confers status & identity. Formal or informal,
smart or casual, uniforms. Appropriate or inappropriate?
Influence of class, gender, race, sexual orientation?
Task – deconstruct these images
Speech/Language: Accent, dialect, race,
gender, age, class, but also attitude,
emotional tone and mood
• Task: What can you tell about these people
based on their voice alone?
Body Language & NVC (non verbal
Bodily position, movement & facial expression
all communicate without the need for
language i.e. proxemics – the spacial relations
between people and objects. ‘Open’ or
Task: Deconstruct these two images looking at
body language and NVC
Semiotics and Colour
• Colour can convey meaning and
communicate to us
• Colour can evoke strong emotional
responses in viewers – effecting our
• Gender and colour - socialisation
Objects: Shapes and forms.
or technical codes
• Format (TV programme, newspaper, print advert,
webpage et al & conventions of/issues of genre)
• Layout – relationship of images & text inc.
typography. Portrait /landscape
• Lighting – low or high key, natural or artificial
• Camera work – framing, shot scale, movement (if
• Sound, either diegetic or non diegetic – sound
effects, music, et al
The meaning the producer/encoder intends
to be understood by the audience
(decoder). The most obvious interpretation
by most people in a culture.
Polysemic meaning (polysemy)
Signs & codes which are ‘open’ until
the meaning is tied down. The
preferred meaning is dependent on
other meanings being ‘closed’ off. Its
A sign or signs that ‘anchors’ and therefore reinforces the
preferred meaning of an image. Text or captions are good
examples of creating the preferred meaning intended by the
producer. However, any sign can serve the function of
‘anchoring’ the meaning of an image or media product.
Mode of address
The way a media image/artefact is positioned in
relation to an audience. Its use of rhetoric. Whether
it acknowledges our presence (pictures) or uses
certain kinds of language (first person pronoun).
Inclusive or exclusive language for example:
We/Us/Our. Direct (looking at us) or indirect
Mode of address
Kitten spends all day thinking about murder!
Semiotic Analysis Exercise
Key Terms to use
• Signs – iconic, symbolic and indexical
• Codes – primary (dress, colour, NVC) and secondary
(technical codes – composition, angle, etc)
• Denotation (specified object)and connotation
• Preferred meaning (what does it mean)
• Mode of address (how does it position the viewer)
• Anchorage (consider visual signs or text)
• Polysemy or polysemic (extent of ‘openness’ or
closure or meaning)
Image Analysis Exercise
• Analyse three of the following images – do not
pick consecutive pictures ie do 4,6,8 or 5,7,9
• Use the key terms as tools to help you explore
and decode the images to create your own
notes (e.g. Cornell system).
• Write in as much detail as you can.
• Write up your notes as prose or bullet points
which you can use to feed back in class.