Semiology is a research method involving the analysis of language and signs.

Semiology operates on the belief that no sign has a definite meaning, and that different signs can be assigned to different meanings as needed. For example, switching the meanings of 'up' and 'down' so that 'up' means 'below' and 'down' means 'above' would have little effect on the society, as it is only the signs assigned to meanings that have been changed instead of the actual meanings. Therefore, studying the meanings behind signs and the reasons for the formation of these relationships can prove useful in analyzing different social phenomena, especially those ideology-related.

Semiology is often performed on:

  • Language: Analysing the meaning behind speech, written text, recordings, etc. (Also known as content analysis)
  • Behaviour: Analysing norms and values, customs, rituals, etc. in an environment.
  • Communication codes: Literature, fashion, etc.


  • High validity: qualitative data is produced.


  • Interpretation is needed to analyse data collected; therefore, the results can be affected by researcher bias.
  • Low reliability: individual studies are hard to replicate

Examples of Research

Oxfam - Asylum: The Truth Behind The Headlines