As the discipline studying and documenting signs, sign behavior, sign creation, and sign functions, semiotics is an ideal tool for conducting qualitative research in various social science domains. A sign is defined as any physical form that stands for something other than itself in some specific context. A V-shape made with the raised index and third fingers is a perfect example of a sign, since it does not stand for raised fingers but for a series of referents ranging from the number two to abstract notions such as peace and victory. It all depends on who uses it and in what context it is used. Today, semiotics is used mainly as a methodological tool to study such sign-based phenomena as body language, esthetic products, visual communication, media, advertising, narratives, material culture (clothing, cuisine, etc.), and rituals - in a phrase, anything that is informed by sign-based activities or behavior. One of its modern-day founders, the Swiss philologist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), defined it as the science concerned with "the role of signs as part of social life" and "the laws governing them" (de Saussure, 1916/1958: 15). © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Danesi, M. (2010). Semiotics. In International Encyclopedia of Education (pp. 475–480). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-044894-7.01518-9