Essay: Social Science Is Composed of Many Topics

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Social science is composed of many topics and varied fields. Semiotics is the study of meaning. With the advent of emerging technology, social science plays a new role in human interaction. Media, a field of study apart of Social science, enables people to utilize technology to interact in ways unseen before in the past. The combination of media and technology generate a platform for people to not only innovate, but critique. Social Semiotics, a branch of semiotics where the study of signs in human society are emphasized, helps interpret these meanings and transforms them into the information overload present in current social media such as Facebook and Twitter where interaction is just as important as advertisement.

Sites like Facebook give users a chance to find meaning in anything and everything by allowing people to share, rate, and compare experiences and visual representations. Interactivity from new technology emerges inside the media platform generating meaning in alarming rates.What was new is old and old becomes new. Semiotics helps people understand this constant evolution.

Media, a constantly consumed form of communication, a way consumers view and interact with the world, is a platform for people to express and experience. Movies, songs, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter enable people to express themselves in ways that are influential and descriptive. In a world of constant expression, the relationship had between the thing or object has a life all its own. Because of this, various meaning and interpretations become attached to it. As a result, meaning then forth into the world consumed by others; for we as a society, consume as much as we produce. What are the meanings behind the signs of the media?

The meanings behind social meaning convey the need for power; one can see the signs to power. Power structures can go either way. In places such as China where there is communism, the media decides what the consumer watches and consumes. In places like America where it is capitalist driven, the consumer dictates what the media shows. An example of this is advertising. Magazines make money from advertising. If consumers do not look at the ads and buy the products advertised, the magazine goes out of business. To keep consumers attention, the media might generate an elaborate story or headline and time things to keep the suspense and interest.

Media as witnessed in the real world plays a big part in how cultures and people communicate with each other. Because most media is consumer-driven, it will cater to the dominant group or culture. With the introduction of Facebook and Twitter, more and more media outlets use interaction as a form of advertising and promotion. Interactive social media keeps audiences interested while providing important information to keep media geared towards consumer interest and wishes.

In the past movies, television, and radio had limited interaction with consumers due to the rigid scheme of communication. Now with interactive social media sites, not only can consumers get constant and up-to-date information, they can even add their own opinions and express themselves freely. This leads to continual participation. Continual participation leads to continual interest.

Facebook, the next frontier in social media is the site where users number in the billions. It is a place where word of mouth becomes a potent cocktail for successful advertising campaigns. Not only is meaning deciphered in limitless ways, it is a platform where people express whatever they want when they want for a chosen audience. Somehow, behind the juggernaut that is Facebook and sites like it such as Twitter, still lays the mystery of how things are spread and become viral. Companies pay high fees to advertise and promote their products and services on Facebook and Twitter, but few reach commercial success from such techniques. It is truly confusing as to how something becomes popular on these platforms.

Semiotics became a major approach to cultural studies during the late 1960s thanks in part to the work of Roland Barthes. In 1964, Barthes declared that the goal of semiology is to interpret and take in any system of signs regardless of its substance and limit. The adoption of semiotics in countries like Britain led to an increasing awareness of semiotics contribution in helping understand entertainment and the effects it has on people and culture. Although semiotics is not a central part of cultural and media studies, it still remain a crucial part in understanding the field of media.

Semiotics is a field of study involving many varied theoretical stances and methodological tools. Umberto Eco gives a broad definition of semiotics: semiotics, concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign. Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as "signs" in everyday speech, but of anything which represents something else. In a semiotic sense, signs take the form of words, images, sounds, gestures and objects.

Umberto Eco's book, the Name of the Rose, has an infamous last line "Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" roughly translates as "Yesterday's rose endures in its name, we hold empty names" (Eco, 1983) describing complex emotions in a way that promotes investigation. People, who study Semiotics, use this book to showcase linguistic ambiguity and stories within stories. Another great contributor as mentioned before, to semiotics, is Roland Barthes. He is a French literary theorist and philosopher. In his work, Mythologies, he analyzes the meaning of certain aspects of Bourgeois culture such as wine and its possible negative "benefits." (Barthes, 1957)

The world, full of language, needs constant meaningful interpretation. Semiotics helps one interpret such meaning. Communication is the encoding and decoding of information through forms of written, verbal, or physical expression. The work of Stuart Hall, who argued in 1980 that forms of text including programs on television is comprehended as meaningful discourse, further perpetuates the need for interpretation. (Longhurst et al. 2008, p. 54) in Hall's diagram he states that technological infrastructure relates to the relations of production which then connects to the frameworks of knowledge leading to the encoding of meaning structures and then viewed as meaningful discourse, back to the beginning, full circle.

Hall's analysis implies that people do not passively take messages but rather apply knowledge and subjective view to them. Hall labeled such frameworks as "dominant-hegemonic, the negotional and oppositional." When Hall interprets communication he either decodes the message as an unquestioned fact or one that has personal knowledge and experience placed on it, where a point may be refuted or unaccepted. These two choices enable people to not only notice the signs and symbols of culture, but also be critical of the media.

The enigma that is social media befuddles even the most experienced company so much so that the golden formula to success remains elusive. Perhaps it is the constant evolution of information and the comparative analysis of consumers across broad networks that make it difficult to pinpoint one action. Indeed a myriad of actions and random circumstances combine the explosively of viral success. The only thing that is interpreted from such phenomenon is that viral successes usually reach people on a universal level at a particular time.

The four primary functions of social media are to respond, amplify, monitor, and lead consumer behavior. This then leads companies to decide what drives consumer purchases and interest. Marketing strategies crafted from the gathered information direct the output of media. What continues to drive consumer consumption is what the media attempts to generate.

Long gone are the days where executives viewed social media as a side activity run by marketing or public relations managers. Social media is neither categorized as free media/advertising or paid media/advertising. Social media is more like a hybrid of interactive supply and demand. Not only is social media an intermingling of results and interactions, but it also a proven way to garner more consumer attention as seen by an increase in company created social media pages and feeds. This avenue of technology has not only evolved the way people market and communicate, but it has also garnered a means to reach many more people than before.

Media plays a huge role in how a culture and society communicates. In the past people used magazines, newspapers, and fliers to spread news and interest; now people use social networking sites and interactive sites along with the old methods to acquire new clientage and audience. The difference between the methods of old and the current methods is the dramatic reduction in response and interaction.

What would normally take, the least, hours and days, can literally take seconds. People can text, email, and post at the speed of light, how this affects cultural communication has yet to be defined or seen. Perhaps more dialogic communication will lead for the need of more diversity than traditional media has to offer. Presently there has been a decided decline in print media and an increase in digital media. Audiences demand faster response time and faster information turn out.

Australia as whole is a fairly… [END OF PREVIEW]

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