This book covers the key concepts central to understanding recent developments in media and communications studies. Wide-ranging in scope and accessible in style it sets out a useful, clear map of the important theories, methods, and debates.

The entries critically explore the limits of a key concept as much as the traditions that define it. They include clear definitions, are introduced within the wider context of the field and each one is fully cross-referenced, is clearly illustrated with relevant examples, and provides a guide to further reading and an index.

This book is an essential resource for students in media and communications and for those studying sociology, cultural sociology, cultural studies, and sociology of media.



Sign is the most central concept in the field of semiotics or semiology. Semiotics (the more commonly used term) in turn provided a powerful resource in challenging all quantitative approaches to media ‘content’ or ‘messages’. For this reason, it has become somewhat inseparable from the related semiotic concept of code. Together, these concepts made perhaps their greatest impact on media studies via Stuart Hall's (1980a) ‘Encoding/decoding’ paper.

Non-quantitative or qualitative approaches to media content certainly already existed when semiotics was introduced into media studies in the 1970s, but the contrast with quantitative methods makes the appeal of semiotics clearer. That is because the problem facing all communications researchers is primarily one of scale. How does one delimit the ...

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