semiotics: the study of how signs and symbols relate to the things they represent. As becomes evident in discussions about culture, the meaning of a sign or symbol is not fixed; it varies over time, in different contexts, and by the intent of the speaker/writer. The relationship between a symbol or sign and what it represents can also be contested -- different individuals or groups of individuals might have different views on the content of a specific sign/signified relationship (as is the case with the word "culture"). Someone interested in this process of meaning-making -- a semiotician -- might study the process by which contested meanings arise and are resolved.

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