Sign Symbol
A sign
system is representation through communication which in turn leads to a shared
meaning or understanding. We hold mental representations that classify and
organise the world (whether fact or fiction), people, objects and events into
meaningful categories so that we can meaningfully comprehend the world. The
media use sign systems through newspapers, magazines, television,internet, and
the radio etc. The conceptual map of meaning and language are the basis of
representation. The conceptual map of meaning, are concepts organised, arranged
and classified into complex relations to one another. The conceptual map of
meaning although allows you to distinguish your own individual interpretation of
the world, at the same time as holding similar views to that of other people in
your culture. As the meaning is produced and constructed and in turn learned by
a particular group of people. Therefore sharing conventions and codes of their
language and culture. Signs can only convey meaning if we possess codes which
allow us to translate our concepts into language. These codes are the result of
social conventions which lead to the shared maps of meaning. These shared
meanings are learnt unconsciously as we become members of a culture.If we have a
concept of something in our minds we can say we know the meaning of this
concept. However we cannot express or communicate this meaning without the
second system of representation, language. Language is the only way in which
meanings can be effectively exchanged between people, as people within the same
culture are able to interpret the sign of language in the same manner. As the
meanings become natural through the conditioning of culture. For example the
word white in Australia represents a colour of purity, however in China it is
the colour of death. Demonstrating that different cultures have not only have
different meanings in their shared conceptual maps, but a different language to
express it. As meanings change rapidly throughout cultures to really understand
another culture you must live there and speak the language for some time.

Cultural, social, political, and linguistic conventions are learned over time.

The three theories of representation, reflective, intentional and
constructionist approaches explain how representations through language work.

The reflective approach is where language functions as a ÔmirrorÕ of the
particular elements perceived meaning. The intentional approach, is where the
authors individual views of the world are expressed. Whereas the constructionist
approach is where we the audience construct the meaning through our shared
conceptual maps and language. The media use these sign symbols so that an
association can be made to the object, person, event, or idea etc. With this
information of representation and language the media can familiarise people with
many things, such as cultural knowledge. As advertising surrounds consumers,
concern is often expressed over the impact on society, particularly on values
and lifestyle. While a number of factors influence the cultural values,
lifestyles, and behaviour of a society, the overwhelming amount of advertising
and its prevalence in the mass media suggests that advertising plays a major
role in influencing and transmitting social values. In his book Advertising and

Social Change, Ronald Berman says; The Institution of the family, religion and
education have grown noticeably weaker over each of the past three generations.

The world itself seems to have grown more complex. In the absence of traditional
authority, advertising has become a kind of social guide. It depicts us in all
the myriad situations possible to a life of free choice. It provides ideas about
style, morality, and behaviour. While there is general agreement that
advertising is an important social influence agent, opinions as to the value of
its contribution are often negative. Advertising is criticised for encouraging
materialism, manipulating consumers to buy things they do not really need,
perpetuating stereotyping, and controlling the media. The media must consider
the cultural variables of each country, such as the complexity of learned
meanings, norms, language, customs, tastes, attitudes, religion, traditions,
education, lifestyle, values, and the ethical/moral standards shared by members
of each society. These variables must be learnt by the media as not to offend
the group they are portraying. Cultural norms and values offer direction and
guidance to members of a society in all aspects of there lives. Every country
exhibits cultural traits that influence not just the needs and wants of
consumers but how they go about satisfying them. The media must be aware of the
connotations of words and symbols used in their messages and understand how
advertising copy and slogans are translated. Advertisers can also encounter
problems with the connotative meaning of signs and symbols used in their
messages. However within a given culture there are