Social Semiotics: A theorist and a theory in retrospect and prospect

Emilia Djonov, Sumin Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Central to Van Leeuwen's theory of social semiotics is the notion of 'semiotic resource', which reflects Halliday's model of language as a social semiotic resource whose meaning-making potential is dynamic, simultaneously shaped by and shaping the social contexts in which it is employed. Van Leeuwen's most ground-breaking contribution consists in co-founding, alongside Gunther Kress, multimodality as a transdisciplinary field of research concerned with the meaning-making potential, use, and development of different semiotic resources. Finally, this chapter also provides an overview of this book. The book engages with and challenges visual analytical categories developed by Kress and Van Leeuwen by examining visual representation of race in modern newspapers and historic 'science' books. It looks at the semiotics of five community currencies circulated in UK. The book demonstrates how social semiotic theories can be employed to effectively deal with significant empirical issues, such as narrative complexity, genre, and intermedial comparisons, which are debated perennially in studies of narrative and the moving image.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvancing Multimodal and Critical Discourse Studies
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Research Inspired by Theo Van Leeuwen's Social Semiotics
EditorsSumin Zhao, Emilia Djonov, Anders Björkvall, Morten Boeriis
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781315521015
ISBN (Print)9781138697638
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Multimodality


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