The Usefulness of Social Semiotics

Topics: Linguistics, Semiotics, Advertising Pages: 20 (6743 words) Published: July 6, 2013
International Journal of Industrial Marketing ISSN 2162-3066 2011, Vol. 1, No. 1

Advertising Social Semiotic Representation: A Critical Approach Maryam Najafian (Corresponding author) Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Language Hezarjarib Street, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran Email: m.najafian56@yahoo.com

Saeed Ketabi Assistant professor of Applied Linguistics Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Language Hezarjarib Street, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran Email: ketabi@fgn.ui.ac.ir

Received: July 05, 2011

Accepted: July 14, 2011

DOI: 10.5296/ijim.v1i1.775

Abstract The aim of this article was to show the usefulness of a Social Semiotics approach proposed by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) in analyzing advertising discourse to achieve the aim of uncovering the ideology behind choosing different resources (verbal and non verbal). Two examples selected from 'Time' magazine showed that both textual and visual signs are among social semiotic resources which could help advertisers to convey persuasive messages under ideological assumptions. The result of this study revealed that social semiotic reference occupies a pivotal point in the relationship between advertising discourse and ideology. The image, word and color, seen in this way as the product of social practices, are just three of the many semiotic modes through which social meanings of advertisements are coded. Keywords: Print advertising, Social Semiotic Analysis, Ideology, Critical Approach

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International Journal of Industrial Marketing ISSN 2162-3066 2011, Vol. 1, No. 1

1. Introduction Williamson (1978: 19) believes that an advertisement does not create meaning at the first time but invites us to make a transaction where it is passed from one thing to another. This claim is supported by Saren et al. (2007: 128), "advertisements utilize a pre-existing referent system of meaning, because the product, prior to signification in the advert, has no meaning". Cook (1992: 5) states that "advertising is a prominent discourse type in virtually all contemporary societies, and we live in a society where it is already well established_ or rapidly gaining ground. The important distinguishing feature of ad discourse is its function; because this is always to persuade people to buy a particular product". But, this is not the only function. According to Durant and Lambrou (2009: 93), at the same time, "advertising conveys information, so that consumers know what is available, who makes it, and where and how they can get it". Goldman (1992: 2) reads ads socially by identifying advertising as a key institution in "producing and reproducing the material and ideological supremacy of commodity relations". He calls this system' commodity hegemony'; because, "they reproduce a sense of commodity relations as a natural and inevitable part of the lives of different individuals" (Saren et al., 2007: 129). As Williamson (1978) points out, "ads ask us to participate in ideological ways of seeing ourselves and the world". Eagleton (1991: 9) define ideology as a matter of 'discourse' rather than 'language'. "It concerns the actual uses of language between particular human subjects for the production of specific effects. He believes that you cannot decide whether a statement is ideological or not by inspecting it in isolation from its discursive context"(ibid.). According to him the term 'ideology' is just a convenient way of categorizing under a single heading a whole lot of different things we do with signs. According to Hodge and Kress (1993: 212) "ideological forms are structures of meaning (versions of social relationships) that are inseparable from a set of practices that are themselves kinds of meaning". Ideological analysis of discourse must take full account of the ideologies inscribed in discursive practice. Hence, in order to gain a deep insight of the role that...
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