Media and collective identity
First thing to deal with is this idea of identity
One definition of ‘mediation’ – ‘a negotiation to
resolve differences’ is useful as it introduce the
idea of us using negotiated readings of media
to help us construct media. So not taking the
messages at face value but understanding
them in context and using our own
Stuart Hall’s Audience Reception
• Preferred/dominant reading- when an audience
accepts the message encoded in the text
• Negotiated reading- where an audience largely
accepts what is encode in a text but draws on
sociological and cultural contexts, personal
experiences and opinions in order to create
• Oppositional- when an audience rejects the
Take a look at this Macdonald’s advert. Write a
sentence or two about how an audience could
adopt each reading.
people will regularly choose a
Big Mac for lunch
People will occasionally buy a
Big Mac as a treat
People will not eat at MacDonald’s
because they think it is unhealthy
Stuart Hall in summary
Audience reception theory suggests that
audiences don’t just accept what is in front of
them, but are actually involved with creating
meaning as it relates to their own personal
Using a case-study that you have looked at,
write a paragraph which analyses how
different audiences might interpret the text.
• Who is being represented and how might they
• How might a person outside of this social
group read the text?
All media texts are mediated. They are carefully
selected and constructed in order to create
meaning. If the way audiences interpret
meaning is also mediate, how can identity,
especially collective identity, be constructed?
He theorized that mythologies are formed to
perpetuate an idea of society that adheres to the
current ideologies of the ruling class and its
media. He argues that an audience looks for signs
to help them interpret what they see.
• The signifier- a word, image, symbol, etc that can
• The signified- the message behind the signifier
• The sign- the meaning, how we interpret the
combination of the signifier and what is signified
(the sum of the signifier and the signified).
Think of the red light in a set of traffic
• The signifier:
the red light
• The signified:
that you cannot continue to drive your car any
• The sign:
you must stop the car because it is dangerous to
continue and you will endanger yourself and
The young boy is the signifier.
What is signified is that France
is a great multi-cultural nation.
He argues that ‘the picture does not explicitly
demonstrate 'that France is a great empire’ but the
combination of the signifier and signified perpetuates
the myth of imperial devotion, success and thus; a
property of 'significance' for the picture (the sign)
Choose a case study that you have looked at and write a
paragraph which draws upon Barthes’ theory. Think
about how an image, symbol, scene, characters,
elements of the mise-en-scene are used to create
meaning and how these become signifiers.
Things to consider:
Collective identity- youth
The words ‘feral’ ‘yobs’ ‘hoodies’- these words act as
anchors for the images that they accompany, the rap in
Collective identity- gay men
The male body in ‘A Single Man’, the gun, or the suit.