Cultural Studies Terms/Semiotics

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Origin: The word semiotics comes from the Greek "semein" which means sign.


Semiotics is the study of signs and it deals with how people see and interpret signs. All cultural objects carry meaning and depend on meaning. This signifies that signs and objects have to work like a language so that people can read it. We are able to "encode" certain "codes" because the community we live in shares different conventions. These conventions define the meanings of the signs and enable us to read and understand the world. Semiotic is an important matter in cultural studies because it is a way to describe how a certain culture works.


Clothes have the function to cover the body and to protect it. But there is also an underlying meaning which carries a kind of message. E.g: an evening dress stands for "elegance" or jeans and T-shirt for "being realxed". Another example we know from our daily life: blue colour for cold water and red for hot water.

Related Terms:

Signifier/signified; language/parole; codes; meaning;