Social semiotics

Jeff BezemerCarey Jewitt
Table of contents

Social semiotics is concerned with meaning makers and meaning making. It studies the media of dissemination and the modes of communication that people use and develop to represent their understanding of the world and to shape power relations with others. It draws on qualitative, fine-grained analysis of records of meaning making, such as ‘artifacts’, ‘texts’, and ‘transcripts’, to examine the production and dissemination of discourse across the variety of social and cultural contexts within which meaning is made. Different ‘versions’ of social semiotics have emerged since the publication of Michael Halliday's Language as Social Semiotic in 1978. The account we offer in this paper is focused on the version proposed by Gunther Kress, Robert Hodge, Theo van Leeuwen, and others. Following a historical overview we discuss its connections with pragmatics and other approaches; key concepts; analytical focus; and fields of application.

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