Social Semiotics and Fieldwork: Method and Analytics
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Drawing from recent analytical developments in semiotics and postmodern ethnography, this article exposes and assesses the combination of social semiotics and fieldwork as a form of qualitative inquiry. Approaches to semiotics and fieldwork are not new—structural ethnographers in cultural anthropology and structural interactionists in sociology and communication studies have previously laid the foundations for the integration of formal methods of analysis and inductive approaches to data collection—yet, as this article argues, structuralism’s limitations have hampered the growth of semiotics within qualitative inquiry. By presenting social semiotics as a viable alternative to structural semiotics, by describing in clear pedagogical fashion how social semiotics can be used as a research strategy, and by exposing its potential for applicability, this article attempts to bring sociosemiotic ethnography to the forefront of contemporary qualitative inquiry.