Analysing Social Discourse

by Gabriela Pedranti and Ximena Tobi, SemioticaStudio, Spain

We would like to introduce the Social discourses analysis theory, proposed by Argentinian semiotician Eliseo Verón. We have used it for teaching, in academic research and in diverse projects for different companies.
This theory comes from Peirce´s triadic sign theory, which main difference with other theories about the signs is that it includes a historical-community-social component.
Verón’s theory is based upon a double hypothesis, which says that every social phenomenon has a constitutive significant dimension and at the same time, it proposes that every process of meaning production is necessarily social.
From this point of view, the analysis of any social phenomenon (a product, a brand, a communication creative piece, certain beliefs, habits, etc.) will proceed in an archeological way: re-constructing the processes of meaning production that had place in the “original” construction of meaning of the analized phenomenon.
The other great pillar of this theory is the concept of circulation of meaning. Whatever the object of study is, the analysis of the production circumstances (how is it constituted) will not be equivalent to the analysis of how it is read-understood by society. There is always a difference between the production and acknowledgement “poles”.
In order to illustrate this theory and its methodology, we will explore some cases so as to show its power to “inscribe” any phenomenon we have to explore in the meaning network which gives it its meaning (a network that is social by definition).