Language is both constructed and inherited, by people using it within existing cultures, to produce meanings. Things and events in themselves do not have inherent meaning. Of course they exist. But neither they, nor the ways we describe or photograph or even perceive them, are ever experienced as 'raw' or 'unmediated'. It is the ways that cultures, through their changing use of language, have 'agreed' to perceive, and then to name, things and processes that determine how they get defined or valued.
Semiotics uses the term signs to describe the ways that meanings are socially produced.
Semiotics emphasises that our perception of reality is itself constructed and shaped by the words and signs we use in various social contexts.
ROSE RED PETALS GREEN THORNS GREEN STALK GREEN LEAVES SIGN/signifier LOVE ROMANCE BEAUTY DEATH SIGNIFIED DENOTATION CONNOTATION SAY WHAT YOU SEE SAY WHAT IT MEANS HAS TO BE CULTURALLY UNDERSTOOD
We have established that signs do not possess intrinsic meaning but are defined by relationship to other signs: signs are defined by what they are not. One of the most powerful creators of a sign's meaning are binary oppositions . Here signs are contrasted with signs which have meanings which operate in opposition. Binary oppositions, like all signs systems, are not natural descriptions but cultural creations.
Signs, far from 'naturally' just 'labelling' the real world, are never as ‘natural' as they seem. Photos are framed, lit, edited, however dramatic the events they 'capture'. The choice of 'green' for the traffic sign meaning ‘GO’ could be replaced by 'pink', if that were the agreed colour for 'GO'. But it's worth emphasising the broad cultural or social agreement (o r even force) needed for meaning to be produced — as well as its arbitrariness or slipperiness.
Because signs are socially used and often shared by many people, the meanings of signs are neither fixed nor single but polysemic or capable of having several meanings
Ideology means a set of values, beliefs and ideas that guide our lives
These can be perpetuated by the media to encourage us to think a certain way, ideologies influence and shape audience opinions and the way we see the world. But unlike propaganda which is a deliberate and conscious attempt to change opinions and attitudes, ideology is usually introduced into media texts unconsciously.
Media producers tend to unconsciously represent dominant values and ideas of the time.
HOMEWORK Analyse and deconstruct the following two images referring to semiotics, binary oppositions and ideology