Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Semiology and a Semiological Reading of Power Myths in Education *

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Semiology and a Semiological Reading of Power Myths in Education *

Article excerpt

Semiology is a way of understanding the world as a system of relations, the main unit of which is the "sign." As suggested by Umberto Eco, a sign is a lie; it is something that is presented in lieu of another thing (Eco, 1976). Semiological reading is to read the objects that surround us based on both their primary meanings and their cultural codes (metaphorical meanings). According to the French philosopher, Roland Barthes, semiology is based on understanding the systems of signs, analyzing their operative structures, and thus explaining the structure of the world of meaning (Barthes, 2005). J. Baudrillard, on the other hand, considered the semiological approach regarding objects in the reference frame of a consumption ideology, and this approach was underscored as a social logical analysis, which classifies or categorizes the objects and tells their uses, or as an analysis towards the political function of an ideology that dominates the discriminative social function borne by the objects (Adanir, 2009; Baudrillard, 2009). In that sense it can be argued that objects are transformed into cultural-social signs along with maintaining their existence as material objects, and thus all people who are exposed to these signs start to bow to these cultural codes (Adanir, 2009).

In the reference frame thereof, Barthes focuses his attention on the presentation mechanisms of political powers in a society within a universe of meanings surrounded by signs. In accordance with the Barthesian semiological approach, elements and objects of all life styles can be recognized as a product of a certain total structure, as appearances of a systemic organization. Furthermore, each bears a connotation beyond its denotative meaning with regard to the fact that each element or object is an integral part of that system. We can find in many culturally produced objects (or in natural objects that we attribute meaning to) a narration or an expression of the structure formed directly (deliberately) or indirectly through the discourse of power. In this sense, applying the Barthesian perspective, each and every visual element involved in the educational process from the architecture of school buildings to the physical structure of the classes, to the textbooks, course materials, pictures, photographs, and symbols, can be read as "signs" that bear a connotation beyond their denotative meanings. They are packed with cultural codes (Apple, 2006; Bernstein, 1990; Giroux, 2007; Spring, 1997).

Semiology as a method of analysis, is generally applied in the fields of Media and Cultural Studies. It should also be used more frequently in the field of Educational Sciences in order to analyze the visual characteristics of educational processes on the grounds that semiology allows the ability to attribute meanings to objects in regard to the entire social sphere.

Therefore, the main aim of this study is to sketch a theoretical framework regarding the semiological approach that could also be considered as a requirement in the field of educational studies. The aim is to propose a methodological expansion and by means of an exemplary semiological analysis on a sample photograph, to propose semiology as a method for the field of Educational Sciences. This is done by demonstrating that many visual elements within the educational process can in fact be read with the help of analysis as a sign containing certain ideologically-loaded cultural codes.

In this respect, the present study will first present the theories regarding the theoretical background of semiology, specifically in the framework of Saussure and Barthes, and underscore examples of how these theories have been used as a method in the field of social sciences. The study will present, in light of the aforementioned framework and by means of critical semiological analysis, which myths have been formed or activated by the visual elements as introduced during the educational process, school environment, and text books. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.