LITERATURE REVIEW PART I: SEMIOTICS
This dissertation comprises three disparate literature reviews with the first review, Literature Review Part I: Semiotics provides an overview of semiotics as a theoretical framework. Literature Review Part II: Understanding masculinity (theoretical frameworks and context) consists of background and context of men’s studies, including a historical overview of feminism and gay studies from which men’s studies evolved. Literature Review Part III: Media, masculinity and the visual text, deals with semiotics, visual representation and the media, as well as the representation of men in the media. The first literature review provides the foundational theoretical works that are used in the development of the semiotic multimodal model. The reader is then asked to make a conceptual leap from semiotics to a seemingly new field: men’s studies. Such a leap is necessitated by the latter two literature reviews (Part II and Part III) that deal with the representation of men in the media – the case study on which the semiotic multimodal model is tested and applied, that is, MH. This literature review aims at discussing semiotics as theory, the influence and use that semiotics have on ‘social semiotics’, and justifying the use of semiotics for analysing visual texts. A brief history of semiotics is provided before defining social semiotics and the contribution of semiotics in making and interpreting meaning. The chapter further explores meaning as representation of reality and ideology. In exploring representation and interpreting meaning, a brief overview is provided of ideology; power; language and culture; encoding, decoding, and polysemy; ideology and different readings; and political economy. The last section of this literature review explores visual text and visual culture.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEMIOTICS
One of the most influential and leading ways of thinking about the media is the approach that is known as semiotics. The most important aspect of semiotics for studying communication stimulates an awareness that people communicate means of signs with meanings that are either fixed or non-fixed. As a result, communication constantly experiences the transmission of meaning(s). It means that communication does not only focus on the way in which meaning is produced and exchanged among the partners in communication. Semiotics is concerned with the interaction between messages and people during the process of producing meaning. The message is both the object and subject of semiotic analysis. Messages are viewed as being composed of signs and codes that derive meaning from the culture in which they are used. Semiotics studies the relationship between the sign, the message, the users, and the culture (Thwaites et al. 2002:35).This approach assumes that meanings are communicated by signs, and semiotics is concerned with the issue of how signs work. Semiotics stems from the proposed perspective of structuralism that human and communication behaviour is directed by an underlying system of ever-changing cultural and social structures. Therefore, semiotics is not viewed as an autonomous field of study, since it is applied in a broad range of fields – for example art, literature, anthropology and sociology, and the mass media. Since society is so infused by media messages, semiotics can be employed to analyse visual texts and to deepen our understanding of the media by means of a narrow focus on mass media products, such as MH. Semiotics – the science of signs – is an ‘object language’ that refers to itself and its workings, and that serves as a metalanguage, since it can be used to analyse other systems of signs (Grossberg, Wartella, Whitney & Wise 2006:143; Hardy & Bryman 2004:567). A sign is something that makes total sense in the mind of one person, but at other times it is merely perceived as being beneficial to understand the connection between appearance and substance. Semiotics experiences itself as an object, as well as a subject. Any system of signs can be analysed by semiotics, including language as a communicative system. The core of semiotics includes the study of language: Especially how it shapes the observer’s perceptions of and thoughts about the world. While language is being used as model, the principles are mainly applied to the visual texts that are selected from MH magazine. In this way, the sign system is an authorised and realistic structure that resembles mathematics, since it contains the tools to apply consistent operations on itself (as a sign system).
SEMIOTICS: REPRESENTATION, REALITY, AND IDEOLOGY
Semiotics seeks to value the structure of representation and its functions. While semiotics is defined as an investigation of law-like statements that might direct communicational systems including language and, distinguishing tangible speech by De Saussure, most present-day theories of symbolisation and representation also acknowledge the concluding context-bound character of meaning (Hardy & Bryman 2004:568). The difficulty of ‘context’, of the logic of representational systems, confuses many researchers of semiotics. Since all representations, including words, are discriminatory and combinatorial, they may well encourage connotations, fantasies, ideas, and desires that intrinsically contain the possibility for counterintuitive and incredible formulations. As a human being, one already has concepts in one’s mind and gives representation to these concepts by the production of meaning. Hall (1980) identifies two systems of representation. The first one is the system by which all sorts of objects are associated with concepts (mental representations) that one carry around in our minds. The other one is language as a secondary system of representation. When one says that one belongs to the same culture, for instance, it refers to the fact that one interprets the world around oneself in the same way. For this reason, culture is defined in terms of shared meaning or shared conceptual maps. Therefore, one is able to represent or exchange meanings. The relation between things, signs, and concepts lies at the very heart of the linguistic production of meaning. The process of associating these three elements with one another is called representation. The very phrase ‘men’s magazines’ contains an assumption about the coherence of a group of people with the label ‘men’. These men are collectively represented, and spoken for as a recognisable group. This representation may in part be inspired by cultural assumptions and attitudes. However, stereotypes are never simply invented by the media, but are also created by marketing (Anderson 2010; Segal 2007; Gillespie & Toynbee 2006). Therefore, familiar and understood representations contribute to the sales of magazines by emphasising familiar sets of values. While codes are being shared, meaning is constructed by a system of representation. For example, the cover of a men’s magazine usually contains a close-up image of a smiling man. This appearance engages our attention, since it is close and familiar to the readers. However, some men are not represented. It is unlikely that the image of an elderly man or a beggar will appear on the cover of a magazine. The visual representations, therefore, construct an imaginary world for an imaginary reader (Wykes & Gunter 2005: 139; Burton 2005:137-138).
LITERATURE REVIEW II: UNDERSTANDING MASCULINITY: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS AND CONTEXT
Masculinity studies have mostly originated from and been heavily influenced by, and in response to, feminist theory. This chapter, therefore, introduces First, Second and Third wave feminism, as well as gay liberation studies, and the role they have all played in the contribution to and the shaping of men’s studies. From this chapter, it is apparent that theorists on feminism and sexual preferences have made important contributions to masculinity studies; for instance on issues of gender formation, biological determinism, social construction of identity, and sexuality. This chapter also provides a brief overview of the historical context from where men’s studies began and evolved. The literature review begins with an outline of masculinity structured within the gendered hierarchies by looking at masculinity politics and men’s movements. Starting with a sociological perspective, this chapter views masculinity in relation to contemporary developments in order to illustrate how feminism has negatively framed and contributed to the discourse about men and male identity. This chapter accordingly considers the following issues: feminism’s shaping media discourse on masculinity, shapes of masculinity and their interrelationships, and the masculinity crisis framework.
THE IMPACT OF GENDER FRAMEWORKS IN THE SHAPING OF MASCULINITY
Second and Third Wave feminist discussions on men and male identity merits attention for what it says about masculinities and the influence or ‘power effects’ that it has in modern society.To provide an overall framework for the study of gender, Seidler (1994:112) says, “feminists have… set the agenda of men’s studies”. The argument is, therefore, that any study of gender identity [masculinities] has feminist gender theory as a theoretical foundation and on a practical level has to consider how feminism shaped the gender debate on men (Macnamara 2006:21-22). Simplistic worldwide understandings of power have pervaded much of feminists thinking and literature (Segal 2007:55-58; Beasley 2005:179-180). Mansbridge (1995:29) defines feminism as “the commitment to ending male domination”
Multimodality as a broader change in the way we communicate in society
From the section about grammar and metaphors, the focus moves to multimodality as a larger change in the way one communicates in society. In the past, semiotic modes were used in an isolated way (monomodality). This has changed to multimodality, since communication has become more visual, which is changing the way one communicates (Machin 2007:16–17). Van Leeuwen (2005:160-176) points out that one still thinks of high art as the separation of words and images while the simultaneous use of words and pictures are associated with mass culture and commercialisation. The general public – it seems – clings to the segregation of high art, but the situation has changed in visual communication. One uses different modes in an integrated way and in such a way that roles or functions formerly dominated by high art, for instance, are now replaced by different modes (Machin 2007:17). There are three basic requirements for any semiotic mode in order for it to function as a communicative system. These three functions (also seen as roles) are used comprehensively in the semiotic visual analysis multimodal model. Machin (2007:17–20) and Van Leeuwen (2005:23-24) identifies the three requirements as follows:
Ideational metafunctions: a semiotic system has to be able to represent ideas beyond its own system of signs. In this way, language represents objects as being connected; such as ‘the guy is holding the topless girl’, or in visual communication the colour red might be used to represent the masthead of MH.
Interpersonal metafunctions: a semiotic system must be able to create a relation between the producer and the receiver. In language, one can differentiate whether one is making a demand or providing information, for instance. Curved lines in a composition, for example, could create a mood of vibrancy.
Textual metafunctions: a semiotic system must be able to form articulated entities (coherent entities). This can include the way in which information flows in a text, or about the resources that language applies for creating texts. The colour blue, for instance, might be used in a text and in a complementary photograph to create a link between the text and the photograph.
HEPTAGON MULTIMODAL MODEL ANALYSIS
In this section, the qualitative analysis of the nine visuals is discussed. Some quantitative findings are also reported, to support the mixed methods approach discussions.
Machin (2007:2) says that visual semiotics has considered lexis rather than grammar by focusing on individual signs as opposed to the way in which individual signs can be assembled into meaningful sentences. Because meaning can only be constructed with the active consent of readers, there is never a single discourse, since all media text can be read in a variety of ways and with many meanings. A simple link between one element and an idea, such as muscle man equals stupid male, can be read differently depending on context and gender. A grammatical approach is interested in how individual signs are used collectively with other signs to create meaning. The objectification that is used to categorise men as groups is important characteristics and cover lines on front covers of MH; such as “your perfect body”, “shrink your gut”, “more sex – less begging”, and “run longer and faster”. From these examples, it is established that the grammatical approach involves treating images as complex semiotic systems, like language, when meaning is created by grammar rather than by individual signs with fixed meanings. Also, by using these cover lines in conjunction with the repetitive visual images of muscularly toned men on all the front covers, MH is constructing a deceptive view of a precise truth or reality for their readers. Discourses are not just clusters of words; they also determine our social responses. A discourse does not represent what is ‘real’; it actually produces what one comes to understand as real. It determines what can be said and even what can be (Woods 1999).
CHAPTER 1 OVERVIEW
1.2 RELEVANCE OF THE INVESTIGATION
1.3 CONTRIBUTION OF THIS STUDY
1.4 RATIONALE FOR THIS STUDY
1.5 DEMARCATION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE TOPIC
1.6 APPROACHING THE STUDY
1.7 OUTLINE OF THE THESIS
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW PART I: SEMIOTICS
2.2 A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEMIOTICS
2.3 SEMIOTICS AS THEORY
2.4 SOCIAL SEMIOTICS DEFINED
2.5 SEMIOTICS: CONTEXT, MAKING, AND INTERPRETING MEANING
2.6 SEMIOTICS: REPRESENTATION, REALITY, AND IDEOLOGY
2.7 A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO VISUAL TEXTS
2.8 VISUAL CULTURE – SOCIAL CONDITIONS AND EFFECTS
CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW II: UNDERSTANDING MASCULINITY:THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS AND CONTEXT
3.2 THE IMPACT OF GENDER FRAMEWORKS IN THE SHAPING OF MASCULINITY
3.3 MASCULINITY AND MEN’S STUDIES
3.4 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS IN THE STUDY OF MASCULINITIES
CHAPTER 4 LITERATURE REVIEW III: MEDIA, MASCULINITIES, AND THE VISUAL TEXT
4.2 THE MEDIA AS PRODUCERS OF MEANING
4.3 A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE MEDIA AND SOCIETY
4.4 AN OVERVIEW OF THE ROLE AND EFFECTS OF MASS MEDIA ON MASCULINITY AND IDENTITY
4.5 MASS MEDIA AND SIGNIFICANT EFFECTS ON AUDIENCES
4.6 SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY IN RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
4.7 VISUAL MEANINGS, CONSTRUCTIONS, AND REPRESENTATIONS OF MASCULINITIES AND MALE IDENTITIES
CHAPTER 5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
5.2 MIXED METHOD ORIENTATION
5.3 THE POPULATION
5.4 SAMPLING PROCEDURE
5.5 TIME FRAME
5.6 THE CASE STUDY
5.7 A CRITICAL VISUAL METHODOLOGY .
5.8 MODALITIES OF UNDERSTANDING VISUAL TEXTS
CHAPTER 6 THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SEMIOTIC VISUAL ANALYSIS MODEL
6.2 THE MULTIMODAL MODEL FOR VISUAL SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS
6.3 THE HEXAGON AS THE CENTRE OF MULTIMODAL ANALYSIS
CHAPTER 7 A SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS OF VISUAL IMAGES IN MEN’S HEALTH (SA) MAGAZINE
7.2 MEN’S HEALTH MAGAZINE IN CONTEXT
7.4 HEPTAGON MULTIMODAL MODEL ANALYSIS
CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION
8.2 THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
8.3 MEANING, MASCULINITY, AND THE VISUAL TEXT .
8.4 THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MULTIMODAL MODEL
8.5 THE MULTIMODAL MODEL TESTED ON VISUAL TEXTS IN MH
8.6 THE RESULT OF TESTING THE MULTIMODAL MODEL ON VISUAL TEXTS IN MH
8.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
8.9 CONCLUDING REMARKS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
A SEMIOTIC MULTIMODAL ANALYSIS AND SOUTH AFRICAN CASE STUDY: THE REPRESENTATION AND CONSTRUCTION OF MASCULINITIES IN MEN’S HEALTH (SA)