CULTURAL STUDIES. Stuart Hall. In Em Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory , 6th ed. CLICKER. Hall is “deeply suspicious of and hostile to empirical work that has no ideas because that simply means that it does not know the ideas it has.”(p. 371)
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CULTURAL STUDIES Stuart Hall In Em Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory, 6th ed.
CLICKER Hall is “deeply suspicious of and hostile to empirical work that has no ideas because that simply means that it does not know the ideas it has.”(p. 371) This quotation from Hall means: A. Ideology underlies all research, whether we know it or not; B. Empirical research without ideas is less likely to prove its hypothesis;
Underlying Ideas • Stuart Hall doubts that social science can find useful answers to important questions about media influence; • He rejects the objectivist approach--counting, survey research; • For Hall the question is how does the media create support?
Underlying Ideas • Cultural Studies is influenced by a Marxist interpretation of society, which is suspicious of any analysis that ignores power relationships; • Cultural Studies wants to do more than interpret. It seeks to change things; • It wants to empower people who are on the margins of society;
THE MEDIA AS POWERFUL IDEOLOGICAL TOOLS • HALL holds that the media maintain the dominance of those already in power--the media maintain the status quo; • That mainstream media research masks the struggle for power; • Hall wishes to gain public place where the voices of the masses can be heard; • Hall wants to liberate people from an unknowing acquiescence to the dominant ideology--this is much like Critical theory of Deetz;
FRAMEWORKS OF INTERPRETATION • Think of the idea of framework as a context, the ideas behind symbols; • The framework people use is provided through the dominant discourse of the day;
MEANING MAKING • Words and other signs have no intrinsic meaning; • Words don’t mean; people mean; • Hall asks, “Where do people get their meanings?” • Hall’s answer: through communication and culture--through discourse; • Culture is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings;
Meaning is Created in Discourse • For Hall, we must examine the sources of discourse; • People with power get to draw arbitrary lines between things (e.g., normal and abnormal);
CORPORATE CONTROL OF MASS COMMUNICATION • In the U.S., the vast majority of information we receive is produced and distributed by corporations; • Hall would say that corporate control of influential information sources (e.g., Sports Illustrated, CNN, HBO, Hollywood Studios) prevents many stories from being told;
THE MEDIA FRAMED THE WAR AS AN EXCITING NARRATIVE; THE GULF WAR WAS PRESENTED AS A WAR MOVIE; THE SHOWING OF SOPHISTICATED WEAPONS DISTRACT ATTENTION FROM THE MORALITY OF THE WAR; THE NARRATIVE FORM WAS “GOOD BUYS VS. BAD GUYS”; HALL BELIEVES THAT THE MASS MEDIA PROVIDE THE GUIDING MYTHS THAT SHAPE OUR PERCEPTION OF THE WORLD & SERVE AS INSTRUMENTS OF SOCIAL CONTROL; THE MEDIA PORTRAYAL OF THE GULF WAR
Just because the media present a preferred interpretation, does not mean the audience will accept that interpretation; The audience can: Accept the preferred reading; Accept the leading ideology but oppose its application in specific cases; Substitute an oppositional code--sees through the bias; AN OBSTINATE AUDIENCE
CRITIQUE • Do such explicit value commitments (taking sides) inevitably compromise the integrity of research? (Griffin, p. 380) • Ever since Copernicus thought the unthinkable, that the earth is not the center of the universe, truth has prospered by investigating what is, separately from what we think itought to be” (p. 380). • My summary of the critique above: Don’t mix research and politics!