Social Research Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


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

Signification is the process of the construction of meanings from signs.

explanatory context

The process of signification is the core concern of semiology


A sign is any cultural symbol that conveys a meaning.

In semiological analysis the sign is made up of two elements, signifier and signified. The sign is the concrete relation between concept (signified) and sound/image (signifier).


The signified is that element of a sign that is referred to by the signifier. The signifier is the sound or image and the signified is the concept that takes its meaning from the relation of the sign to other signs.



The signifier is that element of a sign that indicates a signified. It is sound or image that signifies something. The sound 'dog' is a signifier for a 'four-legged mammal that barks'. What is signified is the concept 'dog'.

The signifier is not a temporary representation through which one moves to get at the signified. The signifier is an arbitrary representation of the signified, which gets its meaning from a system of distinctions.

analytical review

associated issues


related areas

See also



copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home