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the general science of SIGNS, whether these signs appear in language, in literature or in the world of artefacts. As an aspect of STRUCTURALISM, semiology evolved from the linguistic studies of SAUSSURE. Its leading exponent was Roland BARTHES.

Although the idea of a general science of signs first appeared at the turn of the century in the work of Saussure, it was not until the 1960s, and in the fields of MASS MEDIA research and CULTURAL STUDIES that the idea was developed. In the realm of cultural studies semiology has involved the study of areas ignored by other disciplines (e.g. eating habits) and opened up the question of the relationships between cultural codes and power relationships. Its key concepts are the signifier (a thing, word or picture) and the signified (the mental picture or meaning indicated by the signifier), and the sign is the association or relationship established between them (see also SIGNIFIER AND SIGNIFIED). Some relationships may be fairly direct (iconic) and others may involve considerable mediation because of their arbitrariness. Semiology draws attention to the layers of meaning which may be embodied in a simple set of representations (e.g. the representations of’Christmas’ on greetings cards: Santa, Merrie England, Virgin and Child, fluffy animals, and so on). Barthes said that signs communicate latent as well as manifest meanings. They can signify moral values and they can generate feelings or attitudes in the viewer (e.g. a photograph of a Rottweiler = dog = power, a fighting dog = threat to children). Thus signs may be collected and organized into complex codes of communication. See also BRICOLAGE.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
As mentioned above, Indian semiologists were very concerned, indeed preoccupied, with the notion termed laksana--that deviation from the literal and the direct that is both ubiquitous in language and appears to compromise its objective authority.
Some semblance of this map should, with minor variations, be arrived at by any team of semiologists who set out to analyse a good sample of worldwide beer advertising.
Hence the video clips in the tubbies' belly screens (easily replaced by local images); hence their baby-talk (doesn't need dubbing); hence the bland green hills of Teletubby Land, free of any cultural referents; hence the happy play of empty signifiers that has given semiologists such a field day.
(In one amusing low point, Karl Popper declared that biology was not a science.) And while semiologists normalized the suspicion of narrative and history by contrasting those soft, figurative forms with the rigor of scientific analysis, some Anglo-American philosophers were concluding that narrative and figurative language was crucial even to such exemplary sciences as theoretical physics.
Beyond or before those meanings which interest semiologists, the writer's language has a "rustle" (bruissement) to it which emanates from the multiple sites of his pleasures.
28) is devoted entirely to the work of Romanian semiologists in the "theory and practice of reception."
Even within linguistics, awareness of the one-sidedness of the initial premises could at best, in the most sophisticated cases, be converted dialectically into a call for their transcendence -- thus the same textbook of rhetoric cited above went on to acknowledge: In the case of a Jakobson, as in that of the critics and semiologists who inscribe themselves in his wake, this claim for the linguistic character of poetry founds the competence of linguistic science to give an account of those particular linguistic structures which are poetic structures.
Clark had in mind when he remarked, "The semiologists are frozen in the triumph of their prearranged moments of vision." For me, the figure/ground problem is best visualized literally: as a body laid to rest in an unmarked grave.