March 8, 2012
Semiotic Analysis Assignment
In modern western society, advertisements dominate our culture and consumer affairs. We are bombarded with thousands of advertisements everyday, which become a part of our everyday lives. Culture determines the taste of consumers, advertisements is a tool to sell products to the general public that were influenced by our cultural trends. This could be telling us how to feel, what to like and what to buy and fulfilling those cravings by presenting us a product. Everyone knows the saying ‘Sex Sells’. Advertisers use this attribute and try to associate their products with sexual imagery hoping to get attachment to consumers subconscious mind. I will approach this advertisement at the dominant level, meaning that the preferred reading of society conveys the dominant values of society (Joshi, February 29, 2012). In sexual oriented advertisements, today’s society objectify woman and use them as a tool to attract consumers. Since sexual oriented advertisements are considered patriarchal, I am going to perform a dominant reading of the society and argue that objectification of woman is taking place and are depicted as sexual oriented objects. Structuralism is a theoretical method and a way of thinking about and acting in the world concerning with the perception, description, and manipulation of structures The social world has an underlying structure that can be revealed, one way to reveal this structure is by semiotics (Joshi, February 29, 2012). Semiotics is the study of signs that construct a meaning. A Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure first derived the theory of semiotics. Semiotic analysis was created to study communication and language. Saussure introduced two concepts that signs must have, a signifier and a signified. The signifier is the physical form of the sign; it's the component that delivers the message. The signified is the mental image associated or idea represented by the sign (Joshi, February 29, 2012). In addition, semiotics can be divided into two basic levels of analysis. First being diachronic, a macro level of analysis which looks at the arrangement of elements in a system at a single point in time. Second being synchronic, a micro level of analysis that examines the historical development of languages. For the purpose of this semiotic analysis, I will be conducting a synchronic level of analysis because the advertisement comes out of magazine. Semiotic analysis was created to study communication and language. It has two different levels of classification, denotation and connotation. Denotation is the definitive/literal meaning of the sign. Roland Barthes, a cultural theorist, expanded the cultural theory of denotation by introducing the concept of connotation. Connotation is the secondary significance of a sign and is defined as personal or sociological associations of the sign.
In the denotative level, the primary signification is considered to be the literal or surface meaning of a sign (Joshi, February 29, 2012). In this advertisement, there are many signs available. As stated above these signs are made up of signifiers and the signified. The signs that are presented in this advertisement are all examples of iconic signs. Icons are is mode in which the signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (pictorial representations) (Joshi, February 29, 2012). This advertisement contains a sign that is presented of a woman licking an ice cream cone. The signifier would be the letters that form the word. In this case it would be ‘w-o-m-a-n’ and the signified is an adult human female (New Oxford American Dictionary). The signifier for ‘ice cream’ would be ‘i-c-e c-r-e-a-m’. The signified for ice cream is a frozen food made with sweetened and flavored milk (New Oxford American Dictionary). Another sign would be the word ‘it’. The signifier would be the letters that form the word ‘it’,...