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英国华威大学多媒体硕士留学生assignment代写范例:Discuss the concept of ‘myth’ in Structuralism and Semiotics and its usefulness for analysing advertisements. Use print/television advertisements to illustrate your answe

 

Discuss the concept of ‘myth’ in Structuralism and Semiotics and its usefulness for analysing advertisements.

 

Use print/television advertisements to illustrate your answer

 

 

 

 

1. Introduction

 

In the information age, advertisement is extremely important method in communication of  potential consumers and commodities. "Advertising is nonpersonal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media (Bovee,1992, p.7)". World's corporations are spending massive funds on advertisement through various forms of media especially in television and visuals. This phenomenon of advertisement attracts scholars analyze advertisements in a scientific way. Semiotic and structuralism are practical  theory to achieve the subject that in the discussion.

 

Structuralism is "a way of thinking about the world which is predominantly concerned with the perception and description of structures (Hawkes,2003:6)". Structuralists believe that the source of everything in the world is the dynamic relationships or structures. Whereas semiotic basically is the study of the signs and symbols. Roland Barthes is one of the examples who practice linguistic semiotic theory in his analysis. Barthes took the idea of semiotic as the foundation then he created an another system based on the linguistic system that he calls myth. Myth system is also known as meta-language system, because it is a peculiar system that consists of two semiological systems (Barthes 1972). This essay will focus on Barthes myth system in Structuralism and Semiotics and explain how myth is useful in analysing advertisements. This essay will firstly introduce myth system in Strucuralism and Semiotics briefly. It will explain relationships between the myth system and the original concept of semiology as well. Next part it will illustrate how is myth is useful in terms of analysing advertisements, particularly in visual advertisements. This part will divide into many subsections to reveal and analyze several actual print advertisements,  discuss its denotation and connotation. Finally we will conclude that myth is formidable method of decoding the hidden message of advertisements.

 

2. Myth and Semiology

 

Understand Ferdinand de Saussure and his account is imperative because Roland Barthes was well aware of Saussure's work and it inspired his own academical research. Saussure defines the object of study as a linguistic. (Saussure 1983) He points out that "The linguist must take the study of linguistic structure as his primary concern, and relate all other manifestations of language to it. " Saussure broke down complicated language system to two parts which are parole and langue. Langue is pre-existed concept or principles that is out of individual will; whereas parole indicates a particular speech act, it is a manifestation of langue (Saussure 1983). Later, the study of language extended into the field of sign studies and Saussure pointed out that language is a semiotic system that reflects the psychological phenomenon of society, human thought process is a process of  signifying the objective world(Saussure 1983). Thus, the idea of langue in philology became as the concept or signified in semiology; idea of parole in philology became as the signifier in semiology. Saussure later claimed that semiology as a brand new study, it is a study that focuse on investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them(Saussure 1983: 15). Meanwhile, American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce had similar claim that Saussure did. Peirce was more focus on describing our expriences, both of them were recognized as co-founders of semiology.

 

According to Roland Barthes, linguistic system would be the first order of signifying system, whereas additional set of signifying system to the pre-existing semiotic chain is called the secound  order of signifying system and it brings connotation to the denotation(see figure 1-1).(Barthes 1972) "Myth is constituted by a sort of constantly moving turnstile which presents alternately the meaning of the signifier and its form, a-language object and a meta language, purely signifying and purely imagining consciousness". This new idea brings imaginary thinking into the world of linguistic system and its mechanical thinking. In terms of advertising analysis, Berthes' system explores a new dimension because in fact, advertisement requires connotation or implication of effective audience at a much deeper level of consciousness.

In general, advertisements are intimately related to semiology. Essentially, advertisement is a medium of information export or exchange, all that advertisements are doing is converting the idea or content to human brain recognisable signs including text, image and sound vibration. Theoretically,  advertisement is a semiotic subject, therefore, semiology is useful when it comes to analyzing advertisements. Saussure says "Languague is a system of signs that express ideas (Saussure 1983)". Visuals are pretty much act the same except it's more direct viewing. Modern advertisement is concentrated reflection of visual rhetoric techniques, the visual images of advertisements are carefully planned and selected expediently to present advertiser's intention to audiences. Roland Barthes studies visual persuasion and its methods on research object of advertisement, he divides advertisement information in three divisions; linguistic information, non-coded iconic information and coded iconic information (Barthes 1972). Linguistic information corresponds to texts in the advertisement. Others are corresponding to images. Linguistic information iconic information is equivalent to denotation and connotation. One is straightforward and self-evident to viewers whereas others are symbolical and metaphorical. Iconic information need viewers interpreter with knowledge of traditional and cultural practice, the message could be different depends on different viewers. Therefore, myth system is the application of analyzing both primary meaning and metaphorical meaning of any particular advertisement.

Not only in advertisements, film industry use semiology based techniques to help create a better framework of storyline or richer characteristics, designers use semiology based techniques to come up with inspirational visuals. Semiotics as a research methodology, its strength is capable of discover ideology that behind the signs that are emerged and to observe relationships in the semiotic involvement. It can also search the patterns in various advertisements or relationships between particular signs and cultural significance of it. Roland Barthes stated that semiotic is not only mythology of studying the communications but it's also a fundamental theory of communications, therefore, communications and semiotics are closely linked.

 

  However, weakness of semiotic is quite critical. Semiotic is arbitrary. Result of the semiotic analysis cannot be examinated scientificly and objectively because of its nature of arbitrariness. Viewers will attempt to analyze original content exaggeratively and add irrational explanations subjectively which is far from the objective intension of the advertisement. Semiotic analysis is heavily based on personal cognition and interpretation of the viewer of the researcher. It cannot represent general audience's understanding of a certain particular advertisement. Thus, semiotic is not equivalent to the ultimate method of the advertisement analysis, however, use of several other methods as supplementary approaches can help break through the limitation of semiotic methods. Therefore, semiotic is still considered as one of the primary mythologies in the field of advertisement analysis.

 

Figure 1-1

 

2.1 Semiotic tools

 

The idea of a sign or signification is the core element of semiotics and its based theories, understanding the sign is an essential requirement of use semiotical analysis in real life application (Barthes 1957). Saussure defines sign by following quotes,  "The word sign to designate the whole and to replace concept and sound-image respectively by signified and signifier(see figure 1-2);  the last two terms have the advantage of indicating the opposition that separates them from each other and from the whole of which they are parts. " Saussure suggests that a sign consists of the term signified and signifier, signified is the concept. Signifier is the images or sound pattern that approximately represent that concept.The relationship between signified and signifier is arbitrary and unnatural(see figure 1-3).(Saussure 1982) There is no logic between signified and signifier. Signs are the basic unit of meaning like Eco pointed out "a sign is anything that can be used to tell a lie(Eco 1976)".

 

Figure1-2

 

Figure 1-3

 

Denotation and connotation are introduced by Barthes and his myth system. Denotation refers as literal meaning of the sign, it is a primary understanding of the sign, the denotational preception is an intuitive occurrence, it does not rely on any references or information but sign itself. On the other hand, connotation is subjective suggestion of an expression, different traditional or cultural background may have different connotational interpretions, it is a form of metaphorical understanding of the sign. Barthe explains it through an example of a rose; denotation of a rose is that it is a flower with red petals and a green stem; connotation of a rose is that it is representation of passion, romantic, sexual seduction and so on(Barthes 1972). Connotation is extremely important in a print media advertisement such as posters because often it presents itself as a single image with short texts, advertisers or graphic designers usually chooses to express connotation within the image and text combination because denotation of a single image and short texts is extremely difficult to convey considerable collection of ideas. Denotation alone can only transmit poor amount of information, however, connotation is kind of parasite on the idea of the denotation, we can never talk about connotation of a sign unless we fully understand the denotation of it.

 

 

2.2 Print media advertisement analysis

 

  Print media advertisement as a traditional media existed for a long time and it's still one of dominating forms of advertisement till this day. Print media advertisement is a static process, it consists of still images and texts that describing certain ideas or content.Print media advertisement is easy to create and the messages could be delivered convenienally. Eventhough there could be trillions of image and text combination, from visual symbolic view points, character images of the advertisement generally regard to:

1) Image of advertiser, commodities, brand etc.

2) people other than advertisers or suppliers, for example, consumers, spokesman of the brand etc.

Still life images of the advertisement generally regard to :

1) products which are advertising.

2) things that related to products which are advertising.

Advertisers pushing these images for the purpose of selectively present their excellence of their brand or the products, furthermore, increase their scale of potential consumers to boost their sales. In terms of semiotics, they use the technique of metonymy which means to use an object or concept for that another concept or object that associated with it; and metaphor which means to use an object or concept that has representation of another. Take one of the Nike's advertisement as an example. The image of this advertisement are: world's premier basketball player Kobe Braynt is standing in middle of composition, he is wearing black jersey and a black handband that has Nike logo on it; he also wears the product which they are advertising that is a sneaker coloured with purple and yellow; the sneakers align in the shape of the wing behind Kobe Braynt's back; product information and the brand information show in text form at left bottom corner. Thus, we can collect signifieds and signifiers(shown in Table 1-1 and Table 1-2). The image is an intense design that targets to the community of overall basketball fans and Kobe Braynt fans, it uses various signs that only basketball community be able to comprehend, overall design helps conveyed the message effectively which is this Nike sneaker can make you jump higher. The essential significance barely reflects characteristic of this product. According to linguistic system, significans of this image is Kobe braynt is just standing in front of a bunch of sneakers that align in shape of wings which is an improper explanation for the purpose of advertisement and marketing. Only through Barthes' myth system, we can give more reasonable explanation that is metaphorically expressed.

 

Nike's example is somewhat straightforward, at least it shows an actual image of the product and the image of a character that related to the product that they are advertising. Linguistic system didn't get the metaphorical meaning of the image, but the viewer still able to at least recognize the image is about the product which is the basketball sneaker. In some cases,  advertisers decide to be extreme with metaphorical messages and be obscure with their advertising due to their product's characteristic in the society. Sex-health product industry is a great example of the subject of discussed,  general population is shay away to talk about sex in the public, therefore sex-health product advertisement is relatively difficult to execute compare to other industries. In order to avoid public critics because it hurts their brand image and effecting their market unfavorably, they are most likely to be forced to present their product in a mysterious way. Myth is very powerful to analyze extremely metaphorical advertisements because these advertisements are designed in favor of the myth system.

 

 

  Take few of Durex's advertisements as examples. First advertisement is an image of a green background, female and male icon and plus and an equivalent sign. According to Linguistic system, it is hardly associated with Durex's product if it does not have any obvious connection with their product at all! However, myth is an easy approach to this advertisement's analysis: The background colour green represents safe sex ; the durex logo suggests that this advertisement is about condom and sexual protection;female icon plus male icon equivalent to an empty space which is nothing refers that there is no child produced after having a sexual relationship; texts in the bottom says "population control.Happy to help"; altogether suggests that durex provides strong sexual protection. Secound advertisement is an image of a pink background with 4 text "cndm". At the bottom, there's text that says "small condom for better grip".Again,this image does not serve the purpose of advertising according to linguistic system alone. This image has to be analyzed in the myth to at least attempt to bring out the meaning of this advertisement. Colour pink is representation of feminine or vigorous; texts at bottom suggests that it's a advertisement about extra small size of condom;the text "cndm" supposed be proper spell of the word "condom" but it missing the Os which are the symbols represent shape of condoms because they're too small to visualize. We now can draw a conclusion on this section that myth system is extremely useful in cases such as analyzing metaphorical advertisements.

 

2.3 Television and visual media

 

  Television has mass audience around the world, in fact, it is one of the most influential media in the last decade. It is reasonable consider that television is the ideal platform to hit in the audience's head with massive information attack. Television advertisement is an animation which means it's consist of a sequence of images or signs. Saussure's semiotics state that sign has horizontal and vertical relationships. Vertical relation refers relationship between sign and signified/signifier, whereas horizontal relation refers to relationship between sign with other signs(see figure 1-4). Therefore, sets of signs can construct as one single sign and animation is an example of it. Animation is a sign. We can use semiotic analysis as we did with print media advertisement. Take Google's chrome internet browser advertisement as an example, there is tremendous information going on in this short clip. Roughly, the linguistic significance is Google chrome internet browser took a speed several tests and came out with the result of chrome is faster than a variety of things such as soundwave and beam of lights. The myth signifies is Google is by far the fastest internet browser in the world since it beats speed of the sound and speed of light. It was a well executed advertisement. It conveys the purpose of the product perfectly that is chrome visits websites faster than anything in the world. Advantage of the television advertisement is that it contains much more information compares to print media advertisement. Therefore the television advertisements are more detailedly illustrated. Of course, television advertisement’s structures of signs are much more complicated compare to print media advertisements. Advertisers value audience of television so much because it provides a better platform of presenting information and it has much more effect on human brain since it is the mega semiotic sign of compressed images and sounds. In addtion, audience of the televesion is relatively more attracted to it compares to the audience of traditional print media. Field of television advertisements is competitive because it targets such a huge audience, however, most of the population do not realize the importance of this and keep absorbing television's messages blindly and passively. Edinburgh, most people are not willing admit, but in the reality they are all "brain washed" in terms of which products they should buy or not in various degrees.

Figure 1-4

2.4 Myth and Naturalization

 

  Barthes stated that "myths serve the ideological function of naturalization.(Barthes 1972)" Myth is the result of naturalizing the artifact or social product., naturalizing is the process of selfgratification and self-close.Barthes pointed out ideology itself is the result of naturalization. Therefore, advertisement is the phenomenon of naturalization. Entire popular culture is based on myth according to Barthes. Myth is distorted, artifical and unnatural. Fashion and advertisement are heavily referring to certain aspects of natural attribute of human beings. For example, fashion magazines and advertisement always having a suggestion about what to dress or what to buy, justifying their own opinions on certain idea. The phenomenon of Apple's products being top selling commodities is an example of the naturalization. Apple didn't start to sell their product massively only because they're innovating top technology products. Their understanding of fashion psychology was the huge factor of it. Whether Apple's technology department admits or not, iphone is not the technically best smart phone on the market, however, they convinced general population to believe that iphone is the best smart phone that is available on this planet. Apple self-exhibited their products through a number of advertisements, claimed that ipods and iphones are "revolutionary" technology which is false.Apple were emphasising advertising aspect of their products more they do in their research in technology. They made ipod and iphone a fashion icon, became a trend setter of fashion scene. Therefore, Apple phenomenon is a myth as well as the Apple corporation as a brand. According to Roland Barthes, "Math is a system of communication, that it is a message. This allows one to perceive that myth cannot possibly be an object, a concept, or an idea; it is a mode of signification, a form.(Barthes 1972)" Myth must consists of two semiological systems, in this particular case, denotation of Apple coropration is that Apple is top selling high technology company; connotation of Apple coropration is that Apple is a top selling high-tech organization and a pioneer company that combine fashion and technology to increase their sales units. As Barthes discussed, "in the eyes of the myth-consumer, the intention, the adhomination of the concept can remain manifest without however appearing to have an interest in the matter.(Barthes 1972)" Derive apple's example into what Barthes has said we can figure out that in the eyes of the apple consumers, the intention of the concept can remain manifest without have an interest in the Apple’s products because human beings are habitually approval of things that are natural. Thus myth system is not restricted to studying advertisements, as Barthes stated, myth is type of communication, everything could be a myth(Barthes 1972).

 

3. Conclusion

 

  In conclusion, this essay has introduced some basic concept of Saussure's semiotics account and its very brief history, essay emphasis particularly on myth system and its role of advertisement analysis. Through various examples, we come to a clarity of understand conclusion that myth system is a dependable tool of analyzing the advertisements. In modern society, advertisers value connotation so much because the information they have to communicate in is exponentially growing. When advertisers speaking in a metaphorical language, it is harder to catch what they're trying to communicate by other approach of analytical methods but Barthe's myth method is effective because :

1)its arbitrary nature of explain subjects.

2) it's a subjective way of analyzing data which depending on researchers traditional or cultural view of certain subjects.

3)it can come up with million of explanation of same information and still could have done no wrongs because as Barthes says myth is not a truth nor lie, there is no standard to make a clear judgement (Barthes 1972).

 Myth also create its limits because of the fact that it is a highly subject, however, in communications, subjectivity is necessary to a certain degree of viewing ideas, it's good to remember that "all communication is partial, conventional, and 'biased', even those forms such as print journalism that are founded on a reputation for truth-seeking and attempt to convey the impression of reliability" (Seiter, 2000). Important concern that raised out of this study of the myth is that the advertisements are not done in an objective way, it often self-justifies it selves and sending highly persuasive messages to the audience. Advertisement has chracteristic of deceptive communication because it uses the technique of metaphor and metonymy to advertise certain aspects and strength of the product due to intention of the advertisers. Myth revealed that advertisement and marketing are nothing but a process of "naturalizing".

  In addition, modern days advertisement industry has been well awared of semiotics, they are now focussing on designing better signs to express emotional and metaphorical contents. In this information age, we heavily depending on metaphors to reveal communications, it is literately everywhere from movies, newspapers, social networks and so on. Metaphorical expression was extensively used field as politics and histories. However, it was soon shifted into the field of mass culture, therefore understanding the concept of myth is extremely useful in studies of today's social ideology and advertisements industry.

  Barthes stated that it is necessary to to "unnaturalized" to reveal the wholeness of the truth. It is important to realize that perception of a sign is not equivalent to perception of the truth because the signs are arbitrary and subjective, therefore it is able to be intentionally manipulated, distorted and self-justified.

 

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