Jargon as imagining: Barthes' semiotics and excavating subcultural communication

Hélène de Burgh-Woodman, Jan Brace-Govan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to expand existing qualitative parameters in current marketing research discourse by integrating Barthesian theory into the study of subcultural marketplaces. Design/methodology/approach - While essentially conceptual in nature, this paper adopts a comprehensive intertextual, semiotic approach which argues for the substantive investigation of the marketing text as a foundation for understanding consumption in a subcultural context. Findings - To date, the integration of Barthesian intertextual theory has proved to be an effective method of interrogating subculturally-oriented materials. Practical implications - Marketers, in commercial contexts, will access a greater depth of insight into the subcultural market by applying an intertextual, semiotic framework as demonstrated in this paper. Originality/value - While marketing discourse has taken interest in semiotics, this has typically occurred via the work of US semiologists, rather than the French school in their organic form. This is one of the first papers to locate Barthes within the marketing paradigm as a potential analytical framework. The paper suggests ways in which his influential theories may be applied as a viable analytical tool in qualitative research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Market Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Brand image
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Intergroup relations


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