Roland Barthes (November 12, 1915 – March 25, 1980) was a French literary critic, literary and social theorist, philosopher, and semiotician. Barthes' work extended over many fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiology, existentialism, Marxism and post-structuralism.


Roland Barthes influence can mainly be found in the multiple fields his work brought him into contact with. The development of schools of theory such as structuralism, semiology, existentialism, Marxism and post-structuralism were all affected by his incisive contributions and criticisms. Today, the influence of his works can still be felt in all fields that concern themselves with the representation of information and models of communication, including computers, photography, music and literature. However, one consequence of the nature of Barthes’ various works is that he does not have dedicated following of thinkers who attempt to model themselves after what he wrote about. The fact that Barthes’ work was ever adapting and always refuting notions of stability and constancy means there is no canon of thought within his theory to be modelled after. Of course, while this means his name and ideas may lack the visibility of a Marx, Einstein or Freud, it is probably what Barthes would consider proper. After all, he was always opposed to the notion of adopting inferred ideologies, regardless of their source. In this sense, by giving rise to the notion of individualist thought and adaptability rather than conformity, any thinker or theorist who takes an oppositional stance to inferred meanings within culture can be thought to be following Barthes’ footsteps. Indeed such an individual would have much to gain from the views of Barthes, whose many works remain valuable sources of insight and tools for the analysis of meaning in any given manmade representation.

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