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Encoding, Decoding Stuart Hall

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Pya L

on 22 November 2013

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Transcript of Encoding, Decoding Stuart Hall

Encoding & Decoding In The Television Discourse
Stuart Hall Ideology
Pya Langley
Communications Theory
November 22, 2013
Who is Stuart Hall?
Cultural Theorist
Encoding & Decoding Philosopher
What is Encoding & Decoding?

Stuart Hall is known for creating the Encoding and Decoding Model of Communication.

By: Stuart Hall
There are 4 stages of the communication process within television.
1. Production 3. Use
2. Circulation 4. Reproduction
The audience is both the sender and receiver of the message
TV producers look to the audience socio-culture to develop tv programs
Once the programs are created, the audience provides feedback to the producers resulting in the producers continuing what they produce or creating something new
Only when a message is meaningfully decoded it will then serve its purpose to either inform, persuade, entertain or instruct the receiver with very cognitive, emotional, ideological or behavioral consequences
Understanding Discourse in Television Violence
Stuart Hall uses the example of traditional American Western movies to explain decoding TV violence.
Stuart Hall suggests that there are 3 ways the receiver can decode a message.
1. Dominant Reading- When a receiver accepts and reproduces the code to the producer
2. Negotiated Reading- When a code is broadly received but only partially shared with the producer
3. Oppositional Reading- When the receiver understands the reading but rejects the code
Meanings of messages signified through language can be transposed into conduct (action) or consciousness (thought)
There are many social and economic structures that shape the way things are perceived by receivers
Westerns were created because of the reciprocity of codes between the audiences and producers. The audiences wanted to see a depiction of what was taking place in Americas “wild west” and the producers were responsible for providing them with this.
The messages encoded in Westerns became predictable and somewhat lost because it was always the same content. A fight between good and bad and the big climax where violence erupts and the hero saves the day. This wasn’t always an accurate depiction of what was taking place in the west.
Hall believed that the presence of violence in Western's were not just there to have violence in movies, rather they were a depiction of messages about violence.
Producers often generate content for TV programs from things happening in actual society. In the case of Western's there was often violence taking place in the west that was depicted in these films. Though the violence showed wasn't always acuratley depicted. It was still a representation of real life. The producers created a mythological “west” that they provided to audiences, wich caused audiences to interpret the message of the "wild west" differently.
Violence on tv is polysemic which means it has multiple meanings.
With violence being polysemic, the receivers tend to interpret different meanings from what the producers may have intended.
They will try to make sense of the violence within the way the producer intends, but ultimately their own understanding of the violence will be reproduced.
Within the model of communication there are 4 stages. Production, Circulation, Use, and Reproduction.
There is a diffused relationship between a producer(sender) and the audience (receiver).
The producers encode a message into a program, but the receivers may not always receive the message intended due to social and economic structures within the individual.
There are 3 ways a message can be received by the audience. Dominant reading, negotiated reading, and oppositional reading.
Representations of violence on tv are not violence but messages about violence
Stanley Eugene Fish

1938 –
American literary theorist
Associated with post-modernism
One of the biggest contributors to the development of reader-response theory

“Is there a text in this class?” The Authority of Interpretive Communities” published 1980
A collection of his most important articles and essays

"Is there a text in this class?"
The conversation:

"Is there a text in this class?"
"Yes, it is the Norton Anthology of Literature
"No no. I mean, in this class do we believe in
poems and things or is it just us?"

Fish says there is an instability of the text and an unavailability of determinate meanings
No text can mean anything in particular
We can never say just what anything means by anything he writes
Literal or normative meanings are overridden by actions of willful interpreters
Reader-Response Theory
Focuses on the reader (or audience) and his or her experience of a literary work, in contrast to focusing on the author or the content and form of the work
The role of the reader is crucial in determining the significance of a text
The reader is active, and completes meaning to the text through interpretation (own experiences etc.)
Two ways of answering this question:
A literal meaning of the utterance, and we understand what it means, or
As many meanings as there are readers and no one of them is literal

Fish's point: The utterances have two literal meanings
A question about whether there is a required textbook for the class. An inescapable meaning
A question about his position on the status of the text

It is a case of determinacy and decidability that do not always have the same function and can change

What is the literal or normative meaning of "Is there a text in this class?"
One hears utterances as already organized with reference to certain assumed purposes and goals
Both the teacher and the student are situated in the same institution, the university
Their interpretive actions are not free, but is constrained by the understood practices and assumptions of the institution and not the rules and fixed meanings of a language system
In other words; the institution you are in influeces how you interpret what is going on
"Is there a text in this class?" 1,2,3
Fish portrays three different ways to interpret the question, and how available the meaning is to different people

Interpretable or readable only by someone
who knows what is included under the general rubric "first day of class"
- One has to know that it is in fact the first day of class, or else it also becomes unavailable to them

Interpretable or readable only by someone
who is awaye of the disputed issues in contemporary literature theory
- If you are not aware of these issues, then this meaning will also be unavailable

"I think I left my text. Is there a text in this

There are readers for whom the intelligibilty of the questions would have neither of the shapes I just mentioned
Every utterance has an infinite plurality of meanings
The meaning of an utterance will always be obvious or at least accessible, although within another situation the same utterance will mean something else, and in this situation it will be just as obvious
We make meaning of things according to the situation we are in - "We are never not in a situation"
The Act of Reading
"Is there a text in this class?"
"The air is crisp"
E.D Hirsch
Hirsch sees "the air is crisp as an example of a verbal meaning that is accessible to all speakers of the language
Everyone can understand this in a literal sense

The obviousness of the utterance's meaning is not the function of the value its word have in a linguistic system that is dependent on contect; the words are heard already in a context which shapes the meaning
"The air is crisp"
In different contexts, utterances mean different things
When talking about the weather
When discussing music

To say that utterances can only mean one thing requires a lot of effort for the mind

When we are asked to consider a sentence where we do not know the context, we will automatically hear it in the context in which it has been most encountered
Inescapable meaning
Back to the beginning...

"No no, I mean in this class, do we believe in poems and things or is it just us?"

The teacher has to imagine another circumstance than "first day of school", where the same words will be equally, but differently, clear

Several people did not understand this anecdote (like me....) but some did understand and were able to imagine another circumstance and reveal the right meaning. Why?
Some people are able to create meaning from a text because it is a part of their repertoire
The meaning is available to them
Fish told the anectode to his colleague, and he could understand "is there a text in this class?" because of the context - at uni, a former student of Fish - was known to him
It was already a part of his repertoire for organizing the world and its events
Had it not, the meaning could not be available to him either
"Communication occurs within situations and that to be in a situation is already to be in possession of (or to be possessed by) a structure of assumptions, of practices understood to be relevant in relation to purposes and goals that are already in place; and it is within the assumption of these purposes and goals that any utterance is immediately heard"

In other words: When we are in a situation, every utterance is heard within the situation and this affects how we hear the utterances and make meaning to them... and we are always in situations
Communication does occur, despite the abscence of an independent and context-free system of meanings

Those who participate in this communication do so confidentely rather than provisionally

While their confidence has its source in a set of beliefs, those beliefs are not individual-specific of idiosyncratic but communal and conventional
There is an instability of the text and an unavailabilty of determinate meanings

We can interpret utterances in litteral or normative ways, and this interpretation is Fish's key point

Utterances can have a plurality of different meanings, and meaning is not constant but changes

We are influenced by situations, the situations we are in and our repertoire of understanding

The availabilty of meaning is different for different people
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