Sociology Index

Roland Barthes

Among distinguished sociologists, Roland Barthes is associated with French structuralism and post-structuralism. Roland Barthes's approach to literature combines sociology, literary criticism, semiology, structural anthropology and Marxism. Roland Barthes has made immense contributions to the analysis of culture, texts and ideology. Roland Barthes's works include: Sade/Fourier/Loyola (1971), Mythologies (1957), Writing Degree Zero (1953), S/Z (1970), The Pleasure of the Text (1975). Barthes's Mythologies (1957) interrogated specific cultural materials in order to expose how bourgeois society asserted its values through them. The portrayal of wine in French society as a robust and healthy habit is a bourgeois ideal that is contradicted by the reality that wine can be unhealthy and inebriating. He found semiotics useful. Roland Barthes' death was tragic. He was knocked down by a laundry van while walking home through the streets of Paris.

Barthes used the term "myth" while analyzing the popular culture and consumer culture of post-war France in order to show that "objects were organized into meaningful relationships via narratives that expressed collective cultural values."
In The Fashion System Barthes showed how this adulteration of signs could easily be translated into words. In this work he explained how in the fashion world any word could be loaded with idealistic bourgeois emphasis. If popular fashion culture says that a ‘blouse’ is ideal for a certain situation, this idea is immediately naturalized and accepted as truth, though the actual sign could easily be interchangeable with any number of combinations.