This core textbook offers a concise, direct and easy-to-use introduction to how semiotics can be employed to understand culture. It adopts a practical and versatile approach to cultural analysis, beginning not with an abstract body of theory but with a number of examples of social sign use which are examined critically using basic semiotic terms and concepts to build up the reader's analytic vocabulary in a practical way. This book is designed to be read in several ways. First of all, it offers a structured approach to its subject with successive chapters reconsidering and building upon issues raised in earlier chapters. The layout of the text supports alternative pathways through the material, however. Written principally with the undergraduate student reader in mind, this is the essential research tool for students and lecturers. It is the ideal international starting-point for a very wide range of courses both in cultural and media studies and related subjects such as film studies, literature and sociology.