Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Decoding refers to the unravelling of a message.

explanatory context

The term is mainly used in conjunction with semiological analysis.

analytical review

Chandler (2011) states:

In the context of semiotics, 'decoding' involves not simply basic recognition and comprehension of what a text 'says' but also the interpretation and evaluation of its meaning with reference to relevant codes.

associated issues

Decoding is sometimes referred to as 'reading', see for example, Umberto Eco (1979) in the entry on text

related areas

See also




Researching the Real World Section 5


Chandler, D., 2011, Semiotics for Beginners: Encoding/decoding, last updated 10 November 2011, available at , accessed 21 January 2013, page not available 17 December 2016.

Eco, U., 1979, The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the semiotics of texts, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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