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An approach to cultural analysis derived from structural linguistics, involving the study of sign systems and how meaning is made within a culture. It was introduced into commercial qualitative research in the UK in the 1980's by Virginia Valentine and now has wide application and acceptance. It is especially relevant to the analysis of advertising, packaging and other symbolic material relevant to brands.

Although often used alongside interview-based research, it does not rely on interview material. Rather, it looks broadly at cultural products such as popular media, and at all the advertising, packaging and merchandising in a field, as a context for analysis of a specific brand or product.

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