Social Semiotics: Setting the Scene

  • May Wong


Social semiotics is a social theory of meaning and communication modelled on Michael Halliday’s theories of language as social semiotic and Systemic Functional Grammar with a particular focus on the agency of social actors and social context. Chapter  1 provides a fully up-to-date introduction to the theory (while peculiar aspects of the theory will be dealt with in subsequent chapters when they become relevant for discussion and application to the data), and argues that social semiotics serves as a useful multidisciplinary framework for analysing text-image relations. With an aim to contributing to the existing monographs of empirical social semiotic analysis in the fields of education and humanities, this chapter argues for focussing the analytical lens on visual analysis in other major areas of impactful social research which could provide a nuanced view of semiotic resources and principles pertaining to visual imagery and text as the most prominent modes of communication in contemporary society before identifying and describing the resources and principles that operate within and across other modes.


Social semiotics Theoretical background Semiotic artefacts Fields of application Benefits of visual analysis 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • May Wong
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of Hong KongPok Fu LamHong Kong

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