MAC201 Encoding decoding lecture


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MAC201 lecture notes on Stuart Hall's encodiing-decoding model

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  • The most famous incident of a misapplied "OK" sign was, in fact, Nixon's visit to Brazil in the '50s. While alighting from the aircraft, he lifted both hands to the cameras and double-fingered the entire nation. = Fuck off Read more:
  • MAC201 Encoding decoding lecture

    1. 1. Encoding-Decoding: the TVaudienceStuart Hall & David 1
    2. 2. Outline Mass Communications Research and Cultural Studies ◦ i. the story so far ◦ ii. ideology and institutions Stuart Hall’s Encoding and Decoding model ◦ i. history and application ◦ ii. the model itself David Morley’s Nationwide Audience ◦ i. David Morley and Nationwide ◦ ii. the Nationwide Audience study ◦ iii. results ◦ iv. Nationwide conclusions Conclusion ◦ i. problems ◦ ii. benefits 2
    3. 3. Mass Communications Research andCultural Studies:  i. the story so far… 1. audiences as mass 2. media ‘effects’ 3. ‘positivist’ assumptions of direct link between media & audiences 3
    4. 4. The impact of broadcastingPivotal in changing the ‘collective dimension of public audiences, dispersing them to their home’ (Butsch, 2000: 173) ◦ Brought concerns over foreign propaganda ◦ Huge cost offset by commercialisation ◦ 1st audience research: ratings analysis (quantitative) ◦ Audience as commodity 4
    5. 5. The impact of broadcastingPost WW1, highly influential political scientists (Lippmann, Lasswell) with military links advised broadcasters in how best to develop ‘public opinion’ via their research ◦ Origins in wartime paranoia and national security ◦ Sought social administration rather than questions ◦ Shift towards ‘content and response’ analysis (1940- 60s) especially around propaganda 5
    6. 6. Personal influence & communicationflows1955/1964: Katz and Lazarsfeld shifted away from simple causal role of media messages. They documented accounts whereby people turned to others for advice (a ‘two step flow’) ◦ Indirect transference of media messages ◦ Opinion leaders in particular spheres (public affairs, movies, fashion, etc) access information and convey it their networks of associates ◦ Assumed a homogenous audience ◦ Difficult to explain media-audience relationship 6
    7. 7. The impact of popular psychologyTurn towards activity of audiences (Blumler and Katz, 1974) via ‘uses and gratifications’ research which investigated the socio-psychological motivations for information-seeking activity via 4 basic audience ‘needs’ 1. Diversion: media use as escapism 2. Personal relationships: media as companion 3. Personal identity: compare audience life with media 4. Surveillance: media as window on the world 7
    8. 8. Enter Cultural Studies“shiftfrom the analysis of what texts do to the audience to what texts mean to them” (Ruddock, 2001: 116).Note: this is quite different to the traditions of Media Effects (too passive) and Uses & Gratifications (too active) 8
    9. 9. ii. ideology and institutionsNew approaches needed (1970s-?): ◦ US – behaviourism (media & direct effects) ◦ Europe – neo-Marxism (ideology & culture)Influence of: ◦ Karl Marx ◦ Louis Althusser ◦ Antonio Gramsci ◦ (For overview see J. Storey, 2006 – chapter 4) 9
    10. 10. The influence of Marxism(s)The mass media… ◦ Define ◦ Disseminate ◦ Popularise ◦ Protect …value system of the social elite (Stuart Hall)“the ruling class in a society legitimizes its power by creating the ideas that people use to make sense of reality” (Ruddock, 2001: 120) 10
    11. 11. The influence of GramsciThe role of ideology as the place where competing versions of social reality meet to win over popular consciousness in a continuous struggle to define the world in a particular waynb this is what Gramsci called hegemony 11
    12. 12. Mass media as a site for struggle overmeaningPrince Harry in Afghanistan: ◦ A hero? ◦ Normal soldier? ◦ One of ‘our’ boys? ◦ PR stunt? 12
    13. 13. Mass media as a site for struggle overmeaningPrince Harry in Afghanistan: ◦ A hero? ◦ Normal soldier? ◦ One of ‘our’ boys? ◦ PR stunt? 13
    14. 14. Mass media as a site for struggle overmeaning Texts contain specific ways of seeing the world – they are semiotic constructs Texts are ideological – they serve to define and shape our perception of the social world 14
    15. 15. Need to note:Concentration of media ownership & competitionCapitalist monopolies own media corporations & promote self interestsRoutine dependence on government, police, juridiciary sources for information & interpretation (esp. re. law & order). ◦ The PR industry? 15
    16. 16. Need to note: Ideology as naturalising ◦ Controls how people make sense of information. ◦ Becomes ‘common sense’ to see the world a certain way Further reading: See also Louis Althusser on ‘Ideological State Apparatus’ and ‘Repressive State Apparatus’ 16
    17. 17. Stuart Hall’s Encoding & Decoding modeli.history & applicationHall: 1973University of Birmingham’s CCCSBlended: ◦ social science, ◦ semiotics, ◦ ideology, ◦ audience research 17
    18. 18. Marxism + SemioticsWhat a text says = cultural convention 18
    19. 19. Marxism + Semiotics“The key to political power lies in the ability … to make contestable signifier/signified relations seem like common sense” (Ruddock, 2001: 123) ◦ E.g. Thatcher and the ‘welfare state’ 19
    20. 20. ii. The model itselfFrom TV producers to TV audiences 20
    21. 21. Encoding to decodingProducers operate Events/issueshave to within standard be ‘made to mean’ professional conventions & routines Messages are thenCreate/encode disseminated ‘meaningful’ messages 21
    22. 22. News stories are semiotically encoded & shaped ◦ (i.e. they are constructs of reality, not reality)“Audience members are engaged in semiotic labour too. They bring their interpretive frameworks to bear on the message.” (Moores, 1993: 17) 22
    23. 23. Encoding & decoding may not besymmetrical 23
    24. 24. A caveat…‘There exists a pattern of “preferred readings”’ or ‘common sense’ (Hall, 1973)Interpretations depend on readers sharing a ‘general framework of cultural references’ (ie their political, religious, sexual beliefs, etc) (Eco, 1972: 115) 24
    25. 25. 3 reading positions viewer decodes(after Parkin, 1972) message in contrary manner Oppositional Negotiated viewer acknowledges legitimacy of Dominant message but operates with some exception to the meaning. viewer interprets preferred meaning ‘full and straight’ 25
    26. 26. David Morley’s Nationwide Audiencei. David Morley - NationwideTestingHall’s hypothesisAnalysed ideological themes, mode of address, styleEmpirical study – qualitative interviewsMagazine style TV show – human interest 26
    27. 27. Morley & Brunsdon (1978: 92)“Nationwide constructs a picture of ‘the British people’ in their diversity. We are constituted together as members of the regional communities which make up the nation and as members of families … our shared concern with domestic life is grounded in Nationwide’s common sense discourse.” 27
    28. 28. ii. the ‘Nationwide Audience’ study(1980)Videos shown to 29 groups from educational settingsManagers, students, apprentices, trade unionists, shop steward, etcClass room interviews2 different episodes – latest on Budget 28
    29. 29. iii. resultsBank Managers response to style:“it wasn’t sufficient … it’s entertainment … if I’d wanted to find out about the budget I’d probably rely on the next day’s newspaper … something like The Telegraph” 29
    30. 30. Shop Stewards (Union reps) response:“ittakes the issues of the day and it is quite entertaining”rejectedshow’s ideological sympathy to middle management 30
    31. 31. Dominant readings: (accepted text’s ideologically encoded message) ◦ Management groups; apprentices; schoolboysNegotiated readings: ◦ Teacher training students; university arts students; some trade union officialsOppositional readings: ◦ Some trade union stewards; black college students 31
    32. 32. Resistant? SchoolboysBlack FE Bankstudents Oppositional managers Apprentices Shop stewards Negotiated Print Management Trade Trainees union Dominant officials Trainee Teachers HE Arts /Photograph y Students 32
    33. 33. Morley, 1980: 142-3Black FE students:“In a sense they fail to engage with the discourse of the programme enough to deconstruct or redefine it”They didn’t disagree with the show’s ideological message so much as failed to engage with it 33
    34. 34. iv. Nationwide conclusionsReading position can’t be reduced to socio- economic location only (it might limit reading positions available)Stilldifferent reading positions available (age, gender, experiences, taste, etc)No longer possible to divorce texts from their productive contexts and moments of consumption 34
    35. 35. Morley, 1981, ‘Interpreting Television: ACase Study’: 56“We cannot analyses communications separately from … the structure and divisions of the social formation … We must attempt to avoid a crude sociological reductionism … (e.g. all working class people, as a direct result of their class position, will decode messages in manner X) … we need to investigate ways in which the structural factors are articulated through discursive processes.” 35
    36. 36. Problems: Hall - broadcaster’s  Morley – is his study replicate dominant representative? social interests  Enforced viewing of ‘Preferred reading’? text Only 3 reading  Role of environment? positions?  Role of taste & cultural 4th position: Resistant competences in reading or ‘aberrant programme selection decoding’ (O’Sullivan choices? et al, 2001: 138) 36
    37. 37. BenefitsHall& Morley stress that texts & audiences cannot be viewed in isolation from each other ◦ No simple textual ‘effects’Complex social relations play important role (gender, class, experience, age, etc)Move away from conception of audience as ‘passive’ receivers of media texts 37
    38. 38. Moores, 1993: 22“Even those viewers who made sense of the Nationwide message within the dominant code performed active, if partly unconscious, semiotic labour. Their general acceptance of the programme’s preferred reading was the outcome of an interdiscursive encounter – rather than a result of them being ‘blank sheets’ for the text to write on.” 38
    39. 39. 5: ConclusionNo longer simple to make easy claims about what the media do to peopleInorder to understand what sense audiences make of texts, we need to consider wider contexts of consumptionTextsdo not exist in isolation and do not mean one thing to all 39
    40. 40. Useful sources: R. Butsch (2000), The Making of American Audiences: From Stage to Television, 1750-1990, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955/1964), Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communication, New York: The Free Press Stuart Hall (1974) ‘The television discourse – encoding and decoding’ in Paul Marris & Sue Thornham (eds.) (2000), Media Studies: A Reader – 2nd Edition, New York: New York University Press, pp. 51-62 or in Ann Gray & Jim McGuigan (eds.) (1997), Studying Culture: An Introductory Reader – 2nd Edition, London: Arnold, pp. 28-34 Stuart Hall (1980) ‘Encoding/decoding’ in Stuart Hall et al. (eds.), Culture, Media, Language, London: Hutchinson, pp.128-138. Shaun Moores (1993), Interpreting Audiences: The Ethnography of Media Consumption, London: Sage. David Morley (1980), The Nationwide Audience, London: British Film Institute. Frank Parkin (1972), Class Inequality and Political Order, London: Paladin Andy Ruddock (2001), Understanding Audiences: Theory and Method, London: Sage. John Storey (2006), Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction 4th Edition, Pearson: Harlow – chapter 4 40