Theory-I.pptx - THEORY I REPRESENTATION What is Representation ■ Re-present – how meaning is socially produced through sign systems never neutral

Theory-I.pptx - THEORY I REPRESENTATION What is...

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THEORY I: REPRESENTATION
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What is Representation? Re-present – how meaning is socially produced through sign systems: never neutral – how and what are depicted are socially determined processes Language and other sign systems shape how meaning is presented while value and ideology help to determine what meanings circulate Representation is never just a reflection, but is active in the construction of our world Different symbol systems impact how we perceive the world
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Structuralist Approaches Structures create meaning (for example language as a structure) Structure vs. agency debate Structures create rules which require or omit certain ways of knowing/representing the world
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Structuralism Cont’d: Semiotics De Saussure and semiotic theory: relationship between signifier and signified is not natural but relational and arbitrary (ie. c-a-t only means cat when comparted to c-a-r, r-a-t – in French the word c-h-a-t is used instead and relative to c-h-i-e-n) Language often create meaning through binaries (ie. the concept is defined by what it is not – so black/white, up/down, citizen/foreigner, etc.) This relates to the idea that the relationship between signfier and signified is arbitrary and social – words acquire meaning in relation (social) to other words
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Barthes and Mythologies Signs do not just convey literal meaning (ie. c-a-t = cat) but they also produce connotative meaning, which, when dominant are elevated to the level of myth Ex: g-u-n = gun (detonative) while gun=war=machine=danger=crime etc. Broader context from the text: “From Igloo to Internet: First Nations Gain Entrée to the Electronic Age” Igloo and Internet are presented as binaries that stand in for barbarism vs. civilization We understand this not because of what the words literally represent but what they connote (Igloo=indigenous=‘historic’ etc. while Internet=modern=efficient, etc.) This is more clear given the structure ‘from’ and ‘to’ along with ‘gain entrée’ suggests privilege in gaining access and a movement forward /upward (thereby placing ‘internet’ as the higher value sign) Barthes’ point is that language is more than simply detonative or literal meaning, instead structuring our reality
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