Semiotics is the study of how meaning is created and communicated through signs and symbols. Our ability to interpret them determines our actions and thoughts.
Semiotics was first studied in linguistics but now anything that is used for communication can be defined as a sign: gestures, facial expressions, music, clothing, film, adverts, words and object.
Signs are processed through the signifier; the object itself or the concept it represents, what we actually see, for example a sound or an image, icons and symbols and what this signifies: what this means, the concept, meaning or associations. The same signifier can stand for different things depending on context. For example the meaning of gestures vary between cultures as do the meaning of colours.
Semiotic codes are used everywhere, as a journalist they are important from a marketing perspective to be enable to understand and captivate the audience. We live in a world of signs and information, it is important to be able to see the way people understand phenomena and organise them mentally.
Semiotic studies are carried out in many areas such as art, literature, mass media, psychoanalysis, education and computers. As a research tool in consumer behaviour and opinion.
As a journalist it is important to be aware of unconscious cultural patterns and not to take ‘reality’ for granted.