Stuart Hall

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  • 1. STUART HALL By Sarra Reyes-Wilson
  • 2.
    • Stuart Hall is a cultural theorist who mainly focuses on racial thinking in the UK.
    • Now a Professor of Sociology at the Open University, he was a major figure in the revival of the British political Left in the 1960s and '70s
    • Saw/three points/media power-polysemic
  • 3. Ideologies
    • Hall outlines three important concepts to understand when studying ideologies.
    • First- ideologies are not separate and distinct concepts. They express different concepts together into a set of meanings.
    • Second- ideologies are not formed by individuals, individuals function within ideologies.
    • Third- ideologies work by allowing subjects "positions of identification and knowledge" that help them to construct their thoughts within ideological frameworks.
    • Because the media produce culture, the subjects are part of the dominant mode of ideological production, and are therefore important areas in which to study the "production, reproduction and transformation of ideologies
  • 4. Encoding and decoding
    • Saussure's speech circuit indicates how the audience decodes the codes of the addresser. So the media is the encoder and society is the decoder
    • Stuart Hall looked at the role of social positioning in the interpretation of mass media texts by different social groups. Hall came up with a model suggesting three ways in which we may read media text:
    • 1. Dominant reading- reader fully shares the text codes and accepts the preferred reading (audience will read the text the way the author intended them to) so that the code seems natural and transparent.
    • 2. The negotiated reading – the reader partly believes the code and broadly accepts the preferred reading, but sometimes modifies it in a way which reflects their own position, experiences and interests. 
    • 3. The oppositional reading – the readers social position places them in an oppositional relation to the dominant code. They reject the reading.
  • 5. Media Power
    • Hall was concerned with media power, including how it propagates social values.
    • He believes that the mass media are the ones that create and define the problems and issues of public concern and segregate society
    • Polysemy- is the capacity for a sign with multiple meanings. It is to do with how individuals interpret and decode readings due to the way they were brought up and their social standing. For example, the number 13 in this culture is seen as a bad luck, whereas in Italy it is seen as good luck. It is the way you see and understand things based on your lifestyle.