Stuart Hall is a highly influential cultural theorist. His encoding/decoding model, albeit somewhat difficult to grasp, is considered to be revolutionary in the field of cultural studies. Although I have to admit I am not entirely confident in my interpretation of this particular piece of writing which I've found to be less accessible than the others on our syllabus, I am curious about discussing and gaining a better understanding of Hall's model of communication with the class. In Hall's model of communication, he refers to each point in the process as a "moment". I am interested in the importance that Hall places on finding meaning in the message throughout these moments, "Before this message can have an 'effect' (however defined), satisfy a 'need' or be put to 'use', it must first be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and be meaningfully decoded" (223). The message has power if we know it has meaning, the two concepts are intertwined. I am interested in Hall's identification of the three hypothetical positions or perspectives from which the audience may be decoding televisual messages. The dominant-hegemonic position "takes the connoted meaning full and straight" (174), the negotiated code or position "contains a mixture of adaptive and oppositional elements: acknowledging the legitimacy of the hegemonic definitions to make the grad significations while making its own ground rules" (175) and the oppositional code "detotalizes the message in the preferred code in order to retotalize the message within some alternative framework of reference" (175). I'm looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of Hall's model of communication or encoding/decoding and finding out from which positions our class is interpreting media texts.
Discussion Question: Hall explores the idea of misunderstandings and how they might arise during the process of message communication between the sender (television producers) and the receiver (the audience). Reasons for confusion may include, "The viewer does not know the terms employed, cannot follow the complex logic of argument or exposition, is unfamiliar with the language, finds the concepts too alien or difficult or is foxed by the expository narrative" (173). Is Hall suggesting that mass culture as a whole prefers entertainment that contains simple/easy to decode messages rather than something logically complex? Do we agree?