Hall, Encoding/Decoding


Please post your discussion question on Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding below, using the following to guide your reading:

1. How does Hall understand what he calls the "televisual sign." How does this differ from the sign in Williamson's sense?

2. How is Hall using the terms denotation and connotation? How does this differ from the use of these terms in traditional linguistics? Relatedly, what does he mean by the phrase the "fixity of meaning"?

3. Polysemic means having multiple meanings (or having the capacity for multiple meanings). Why is this concept important to Hall's essay?

4. How is Hall using the concepts of "ideology" and "discourse"?

5. What does Hall mean by "hegemonic"?

6. What is the difference between "dominant or preferred meaning," "negotiated meaning," and "oppositional reading"? Why are these important for Hall?


After reading Stuart Hall's article Encoding/Decoding I felt some what certain on some points and questioning others. When hall gets into to talking about cultural type codes and gives the example of the word "cow"and how it actually is the animal the cow. This has me wondering about many other signs and things that are just culturally custom or constructed becoming naturalized. How do these words and phrases come to mean something to not just one person but a whole group of people within that culture is it really just what you have known it to be so that is what it will always be. I also wonder about things like the word "swag" it has different meanings to different people, what culture of people use this and made it become natural? What makes a communicative event? Why must the event become a "story" as Hall says before it can be a communicative event? These I need more clarification on.

After reading Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding article I couldnt help but focus on one particular area in the text. He states; "There will be very few instances inwhicvh signs organized in a discourse signify only their "literal" meaning" (pg. 204. After thinking about it for quite some time, im not sure I can think of ANY examples that would fit the bill. The closest I could come to wasa a cross and even then it could represent differnt things. My question being, could you (or the class)give me an example of a sign that is universally accepted by only its "literal" meaning?

Would this be a good representation of that? There are not many ads like this, but I feel like it is pretty literal.


Now that I have read the article, I am confident that what I have learned in past classes over encoding and decoding is accurate. I would like to talk more about page 203 as well, however. Is this basically saying that images can mean what they literally are, but they also have meanings that we give to them as a culture? Basically I read this as the cow can have only some of the attributes of a cow if it is shown, but none of those when it is spoken of or read. This is kind of far out to me. Let's discuss this more in class.

Happy Tuesday Everyone! So, I finished reading " Encoding/Decoding" by Stuart Hall, and felt somewhat confused with all the terminology he used for his writing. It was as though, he would define something, then use that word to define something more complex, and then so on... Either way, he states, " The consumption or reception of the television message is thus also itself a 'moment' of the production process in the larger sense, though the latter is 'predominant' because it is the 'point of departure for the realization' of the message." Can anyone help me translate this message into something more understandable? Thank you!

After reading "Encoding/Decoding" one thing that stuck out is on page 203 Hall mentions that "simple visual signs appear to have achieved a 'near-universality" and "the operation of normalized codes reveals not the transparency of 'naturalness' of language but the depth of, the habituation and the near-unviserality of the codes in use". The way I understand this is that he is saying that language doesn't play a role (or if it does a small one) in understanding visual signs. I find this interesting because I feel that to understand visual signs on a "near-universal" scale that there has to be some basic understanding of language. I could be misunderstanding what Hall is trying to get at, but I was just curious how other people felt about this concept?

After reading “Encoding/Decoding” I find that this article was somewhat difficult to follow because of terminologies he uses. He tries to explain what it means but seems to continually make it more difficult to understand for me at least. On pg. 204 the first paragraph he talks about denotation/connotation and loses me there by saying “But analytic distinctions must not be confused with distinctions in the real world. What does he mean there? Did I just misunderstand something he said either before or after in that paragraph?

I found the illustration of the "circuit" valuable in understanding broadcasting structures. Hall states that production and reception are based largely on similar, yet not identical, "frameworks of knowledge, relations of production, and technical infrastructure."[p168] I feel it the similarity amongst these conditions that allows for "feedback" to occur from audience to viewer, thus completing the "circuit." What are the variables for influence or change in production/encoding/meaningful discourse? How are we ultimately shaping the meaning / market?

Stuart Hall's writes of encoding and decoding, but there were a few moments when I felt I decoded out of the reading. This essay was particularly difficult to follow. One of the above topics I can write on involve his terms and definitions of "dominant or preferred meaning," "negotiated meaning," and "oppositional reading." I understood dominant meaning to be the message that the majority of audiences agree upon in pertinence to specific ads. As for negotiated meaning, this refers to "the exception to the rule." I relate to the movie "He's Just Not That Into You," wherein women discuss their relationship problems in regards to the majority, however there are particular "exceptions to rules" which make each couple unique and encourage these women not to look into the exceptions, because they are an exception to a different rule... if that makes any sense. Oppositional reading is the process by which a member of the audience critically analyzes the information put forth before them and refrains from bias, remaining objective. This is where my mind boggles, because earlier we talked about how a person can't be completely objective and yet, Hall is referring to oppositional reading in which viewers read/listen to facts objectively, forming their own opinions.

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