In the image below, our mind conjures up two images; (1) Michael Jackson's famous dance moves and (2) a Cancer awareness ribbon.
For Saussure, the meaning exists somewhere between the two, i.e., the place where we fill in a connection with the personal meanings we associate to each concept as well as with their relationship to one another.
- Semiotics: The study of signs.
- Langue (language) and Parole (speech): The system of language and utterances. (Langue refers to the system of rules and conventions which is independent of, and pre-exists, and parole refers to its use in particular instances. In semiotics, this principle could be applied to understand the distinction between code and message).
- Signifier and Signified: The components of a sign.
- Synchrony and Diachrony: Meaning of signs.
- Syntagm and Paradigm: Relationships between signs.
Saussure saw society as a system of institution and social norms that form a collective system that provides conditions for meaning-making and hence decisions and actions for individuals.
The cartoon below depicts a social norm that began with the exercise of power on behalf of powerful affiliations. The fact that this action is common place arouses in individuals the desire for change, which, in turn, serves as the impetus for taking action.
James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960)