Stuart Hall Encoding And Decoding Essay Topics

Stuart Hall

Four intellectuals established Cultural Studies, namely, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, and Stuart Hall. Hall (b. 1932) has had the lion's share of publicity. Scholars working in this tradition often take their cue from his articles.

Hall tells us that he grew up in Jamaica, the "blackest son" (in his words) of a middle-class, conservative family; from an early age, Hall says, he rejected his father's attempt to assimilate into white, English-speaking society (his father worked his way up through the United Fruit Company). In 1951, he won a scholarship to Oxford (he was a Rhodes scholar)--and (as they say) the rest is history. As a student at Oxford, he sensed that his color as well as his economic status affected the way people related to him. At this time, he social life centred on a circle of West Indian students. He subsequently won (in 1954) a scholarship to pursue post-graduate studies. At this time, he aligned himself with the emerging New Left (a group opposed to Stalinism and British imperialism). During the period 1957-61, he taught in secondary school in Brixton, London, and edited the Universities and Left Review, and during the period 1961-64 he taught film and media studies at Chelsea College, London. During the period 1964-79, he taught at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), Birmingham. Over the years, Paul Corrigan, John Fiske, Dick Hebdige, Angela McRobbie, David Morley, and Paul Willis have worked at the Centre. Hall has always combined activism and theorizing. He says that he has always been within "shouting distance of Marx." For example, during the 1950s, he was--along with Raymond Williams--a leading light of the New Left. For ten years or so he rejected Marxist, and then for about ten years he embraced Marxism. Hall argued that cultural studies must hold theoretical and political questions in permanent tension--so that they can irritate one another. During the 1980s, Hall wrote about "Marxism without guarantees." Despite his ambiguous relationship with Marxism, he never accepted the view that the class struggle explains/determines everything. Nevertheless, he insists that cultural studies can have a practical impact on reality. He challenges intellectuals by asking: "What effect are you having on the world?" Since 1979, Hall has been professor of sociology at the Open University, the distance-learning institution.

During the late 1970s, Hall produced at least two papers on the COMS paradigm he called "encoding/decoding," in which he builds on the work of Roland Barthes. What follows is a synthesis of two of these papers, offered in the interest of capturing the nuances he gave his presentations. The numbers in brackets identify the two papers (the bibliographic details are provided at the end).

I. Introduction

Traditionally, mass-communication theorists and researchers have conceptualized the process of communication in terms of a circuit: production, distribution, and consumption (p. 51). Since the late 1940s, they have represented communication as a linear process: SENDER-MESSAGE-RECEIVER. I propose to re-think this model, offering readers a much more dynamic model, with a focus on television.

To begin with, we should notice that production practices (think of them as structures) in television translate into a message, a sign-vehicle which (like every other form of language) is organized by means of a set of codes (these are complex patterns of symbols, together with a guide for using them) within the syntagmatic chains of a discourse (p. 25).

This means that the product is circulated in a "phenomenal form," i.e., the transmission of this symbolic vehicle requires some material substratum, e.g., videotape. The transmission process requires (at the production end) some material instruments as well as a set of social (production) relations--the organization and combination of practices within media apparatuses. In this case, the product is circulated a discursive form. Once accomplished, the discourse must be translated into social practices if the circuit is to be completed (p. 52).

II. Research Project

It is important to notice here is that the "raw" historical event must be turned into a "story" before it can become a communicative event (p. 28). At that particular moment, the formal rules of discourse dominate, without subordinating the historical event. Definitions and assumptions frame the constitution of the television program through this production structure (p. 53). My objective here is to answer the following research question: How does this dynamic process take place?

III. Approach Taken

theoretical framework: narrative inquiry

From this perspective, we can say that the audience is the "source" as well as the "receiver" of the television message. We may characterize this communicative process in these terms: The institutional practices of broadcasting are required to produce a program. Circulation and reception are important "moments" in the production process. Thus, reception or consumption of the television message is a "moment" of the production process in its larger sense (p. 53).

analytical technique: interpretation

In practice, this means adjusting our perception of the process of communication, i.e., focusing on the exchange of messages as a dynamic process. We must transform the linear process into one of encoding/decoding, which we have taken for granted.

First of all, notice that the production and the reception of the television message are not identical, but they are related: at some point the broadcasting structures must yield encoded messages in the form of meaningful discourse. The institution-society relations of production must pass under the discursive rules of language--so that the product can be "realized." The formal rules of language predominate--the message must be meaningfully decoded if it is to have effect. These decoded meanings "have an effect," influence, entertain, instruct, or persuade, with very complex perceptual, cognitive, emotional, ideological, or behavioral consequences. In a "determinate" moment the structure employs a code and yields a "message," and at another determinate moment the "message" via its decoding enter the structure of social practices (p. 53).

This process cannot be understood in simple behavioral terms. The typical processes which are identified in positivistic research on isolated elements, such as effects, uses, and gratifications, are themselves framed by structures of understanding. They are also produced by social and economic relations, which shape their "realization" at the reception end of the chain and which permit the meanings signified in the discourse to be transposed into conscience or practice (pp. 53-54).

Consider the diagram: The codes of encoding and decoding may not be perfectly symmetrical, for reasons of (a) understanding and misunderstanding in the communicative exchange, and (b) the structural differences of relation and position between broadcasting and audiences. This paradigm helps us understand the old term, television "content." We can see how it might transform our understanding of "reception" as well. A new and exciting phase of so-called audience research may be opening up (pp. 54-55).

The semiotic paradigm promises to dispel the lingering behaviorism which has dogged mass-media research for so long, especially in its approach to content. Conceptualizing the communicative process without slipping into a form of behaviorism has been difficult. George Gerbner (1970) makes this point when he explains that representations of violence on television "are not violence but messages about violence."

IV. Findings

Consider the television Western, with its good/bad universe, hero/villain, clarity of narrative line and development, and obvious climax in the shoot-out at the end of the story. These narratives contained a high ratio of violent to non-violent incidents. Viewers recognized that watching the Western was a "symbolic game." A set of tightly-coded "rules" makes it possible to conventionalize stories in the Western form. The reciprocity of these codes makes the genre possible (pp. 29-30).

The violent element (the shoot-out) or string of confrontations in the narrative signifies only in terms of the structured meanings of the message as a whole. The violent acts of the villain only mean something in relation to the presence/absence of good acts. They are polysemic, that is, they convey a number of meanings. The way the violent act is structured in its combination with other elements suggests a preferred reading or meaning. Its possible meanings may be organized within a scale which varies from dominant to subordinate (p. 30).

The code displaces the meaning of single episodes from one category to another. In fact, the violent episode may convey a message or make a proposition not about violence but about (codes of) conduct. In calling attention to the symbolic/linguistic/coded nature of communications, we highlight the area where cultural content is transmitted. We can see the manner in which the interplay of codes and content serves to displace meanings from one frame to another.

The Television Sign

The television sign is a complex (connotative) sign. That is, it is made up of two types of discourse: (a) visual and (b) aural. Moreover, it is an iconic sign--because "it possesses some of the properties of the thing represented" (cf. Charles S. Peirce). This point has led to a great deal of confusion. Since the visual discourse translates a three-dimension world into a two-dimensional plane, it cannot be the referent it signifies. Reality exists outside language, but it is constantly mediated by and through language; what we can know and say has to be produced in and through discourse. Codes make discourse intelligible (p. 55).

Some codes may be so widely distributed in a specific language community (and learned so early) that they appear not to be constructed, i.e., they appear to be "naturally" given. Simple visual signs appear to have achieved "universality" in this sense (p. 55). Naturalized codes demonstrate the degree of habituation produced when there is a fundamental alignment and reciprocity between the encoding and the decoding sides of an exchange of meanings. This is a product not of nature but of convention (p. 56).

Visual Codes

The visual sign takes on active ideological dimension at the level of connotation, where already coded signs intersect with deep semantic codes. Advertising discourse illustrates this point: every sign connotes a quality, situation, value, or inference, which is present as an implied meaning. Consider Barthes' example of the "sweater," which in the rhetoric of advertising and fashion always connotes "a warm garment" or "keeping warm," and thus by further connotative elaboration "the coming of winter" or "a cold day." In the sub-codes of fashion, "sweater" may connote "a fashionable style of haute-couture" or (alternatively) "an informal style of dress." Set against the right background, it may connote a "long autumn walk in the woods" (pp. 31-32).

These codes are the means by which power and ideology are made to signify in particular discourses. They refer to the "maps of meaning" by which any culture is classified; those "maps of social reality" have the whole range of social meanings, practices, and uses, power and interest, "written" into them (pp. 56-57).

The denotative level of the television sign is fixed by complex codes; the connotative level is open to active transformations, which exploit its polysemic values. Any society/culture tends to impose its classification of the social and the culture and the political world on citizens. These constitute a dominant cultural order. By this we mean a pattern of "preferred readings." They have the institutional/political/ideological order imprinted on them (p. 57).

Much policy-oriented research has focused on discovering how much of a message the audience recalls--and on improving the audience's understanding of the message. Some viewers may not know the terms employed in the message, cannot follow the logic of the argument presented, and so on; that is, these viewers are not operating within the "dominant" or "preferred" code. Recently, discrepancies of this kind have been explained by reference to "selective reception." Thus, any new approach to audience studies will have to begin with a critique of "selective perception" theory (p. 58).

V. Concluding Remarks

We can distinguish THREE POSITIONS or STRATEGIES from which decoding a television discourse may be constructed:

the dominant code or strategy:

When the viewer takes the connoted meaning from, say, a television newscast or current events affairs program "full and straight" and decodes the message in terms of the reference-code in which it has been coded, we might say that the viewer is operating inside the dominant or hegemonic code. This is the ideal-typical case of "perfectly transparent communication" (pp. 32, 59). We can also distinguish the position produced by the professional code, which is "relatively independent" of the dominant code; professional broadcasters assume this code when encoding a message which already has been signified in the "hegemony" manner. Professional codes (of presentation) serve to reproduce hegemonic definitions specifically by not overtly biasing their operations in a dominant direction (pp. 33, 60). The hegemonic viewpoint (i) defines within its terms the mental horizon, the universe of possible meanings and (ii) carries the stamp of legitimacy.

the negotiated strategy:

Decoding within the negotiated strategy contains a mixture of adaptive and oppositional elements: it acknowledges the legitimacy of hegemonic definitions to make the grand signification (abstract), while at the more restricted, situational level, it makes its own ground-rules--it operates with exceptions to the rule. The negotiated version of the dominant ideology is "shot through" with contradictions. Negotiated codes operate through particular or situated logics. For example, a worker may agree that all of us must accept lower salaries in order to combat inflation, but be unwilling to go on strike for better pay and conditions (p. 60).

the oppositional code:

Via the oppositional strategy, the viewer may understand the literal and the connotative inflection given by the discourse, but decode the message in a contrary way (p. 61). The viewer (say) listens to the debate on the need to limit wages (in order to combat inflation) but "reads" every mention of "the national interest" as "class interest."

"Improving communications" or "making communications more effective" (as an educational goal say) is difficult when moving beyond the strictly denotative level of the message (pp. 33-34). To conclude, denotative "misunderstanding" is not important; however, connotative (contextual) misunderstanding can be of the highest structural significance. Making hegemonic codes of dominant elites more effective (transparent) for the majority audience is a political matter--not a technical one.

The Western (as form of narrative) dates from the 1860s, when cowboys started trailing longhorns across the open range from southern Texas to the railway terminals in Missouri/Wyoming and Canada, where they were shipped to Chicago or sold as feeder stock to ranchers in south eastern BC, southern Alberta, or south western Saskatchewan.

Ned "Buntline" (1823-86) wrote more than 400 short "dime" novels fictionalizing the exploits of Buffalo Bill Cody. Col. Prentis Ingraham (1843-1904) wrote more than 600 dime novels, about 120 based on the exploits of Buffalo Bill.

Four "western" mediums consolidated a romantic image of the American west: the novel, motion pictures, pulp magazines, and western art. Zane Grey topped all writers of Western novels in popularity. His 60 novels about cowboy life made the term western generic and the image of the rugged, individualistic cowboy central to American popular culture.

The Canadian experience differed from the American experience. Tales of the American West reaffirm the codes of behavior that developed to suit the local situation and the rough-and-ready cowboy hero embodies these cultural values. He employs violent means to resolve the conflict between civilisation and nature. By contrast, tales of the Canadian West celebrate the Mountie who embodies the authority emanating from a remote center of empire and who rejects violence altogether.

  1. The bad guys threaten the social order (civilization) of the frontier town.
  2. Support for the new order is divided--some people in the community stand to gain by the new organisation of power relations.
  3. The situation grows very serious: the impending conflict threatens to tear the community apart.
  4. The hero emerges from within or without the community. He is a knight errant who champions law and order.
  5. The good guy confronts the bad guys in a showdown to settle the matter once and for all. The good guy lives and the bad guys die.
  6. Social order returns: we might say that people in the community see the error of their ways.
  7. The hero may or may not leave town.

The newest medium--moving pictures--perfected and disseminated the image. From the time the first plotted western movie appeared in 1903 to the high point of the Western late in the 1950s, literally hundreds of evocations of the cowboy were projected to devoted movie and later television audiences. By 1952, many Canadians and most Americans who might think about western life in general and the cowboy in particular would have trouble differentiating American myth from local reality.

A mechanic with an enthusiasm for inventing, Edwin S. Porter (1869-1941) wrote, directed, and photographed this film. Porter joined the Edison Co. in 1896. Porter worked at Edison (for 17 years) as an all-round man.

This film--produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company--set the pattern for westerns: crime, pursuit, and retribution.

This is a remarkably polished film for the time. It tells a dramatic story visually, without subtitles; it cut between interiors and exteriors with fluidity; it utilized good visual compositions; and it built its tension astonishingly well, considering that editing for dramatic effect was unknown. Porter had no precedent to consult.

The film was shot on a railway track near Dover, New Jersey. The setting was supposed to be the Far West, where train holdups were still common. We think of films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Easterners play westerners here. The story is simple but exciting.

Notice the narrative techniques:

  • editing: the cross-cutting between events happening at the same time, i.e., to create suspense
  • close-ups, especially of Bronco Billy shooting at people in the audience
  • the dissolve, i.e., images fading in or out

In summary, the formula Western provides a way of expressing symbolically certain latent motives which could not otherwise be expressed, particularly urges toward aggression and violence. As well, the Western serves to the function of articulating and reaffirming primary cultural values, i.e., progress and individualism, by reenacting the triumph of civilized order over savage wilderness.

Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. 1977. "Rhetoric of the Image" (1964). In Image/Music/Text, trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hilland Wang. (A synopsis of this important paper is offered on the COMS 441 Web site.)

Hall, Stuart. 1974. "The Television Discourse--Encoding and Decoding." In Studies in Culture: An Introductory Reader, ed. Ann Gray and Jim McGuigan. London: Arnold, 1997, pp. 28-34.

---. 1980. "Encoding/Decoding." In Paul Morris and Sue Thornton (eds.), Media Studies: A Reader. 2nd edn. Washington Square, NK: University Press, 2000, pp. 51-61.

return to COMS 441 Home Page

There are two ideas in Hall’s work here that I am particularly interested in. I like that Hall posits that we as human beings tend to render something into narrative form in order to understand its significance; our understandings of the world are coded in story. I personally tend to think this way, that we (humanity) understand ourselves and the world(s) we inhabit through narrative. But this little personal philosophy that is echoed in Hall is secondary. The prime takeaway from this piece in relationship to my thesis is the use of codes. Encoding and decoding could prove useful when considering delivery during the composition process. How am I going to encode my message? How do I anticipate others reading my message? How do I anticipate others using my text? These and other questions emerge when considering encoding/decoding as it relates to delivery.

Notes:
“Traditionally, mass-communications research has conceptualized the process of communication in terms of a circulation circuit or loop. This model has been criticized for its linearity – sender/message/receiver – for its concentration on the level of message exchange and for the absence of a structured conception of the different moments as a complex structure of relations. But it is also possible (and useful) to think of this process in terms of a structure produced and sustained through the articulation of linked but distinctive moments – production, circulation, distribution/consumption, reproduction.” – 51

“a continuous circuit – production-distribution-production – can be sustained through a ‘passage of forms.'” – 51

“The ‘object’ of these practices is meanings and messages in the form of sign-vehicles of a specific kind organized, like any form of communication or language, through the operation of codes within the syntagmatic chain of a discourse” – 52

“The process thus requires, at the production end, its material instruments – its ‘means’ – as well
as its own sets of social (production) relations – the organization and combination of practices within media apparatuses. But it is in the discursive form that the circulation of the product takes place, as well as its distribution to different audiences. Once accomplished, the discourse must then be translated – transformed, again – into social practices if the circuit is to be both completed and effective. If no ‘meaning is taken, there can be no ‘consumption.’ If the meaning is not articulated in practice, it has no effect. The value of this approach is that while each of the moments, in articulation, is necessary to the circuit as a whole, no one moment can fully guarantee the next moment with which it is articulated. Since each has its specific modality and conditions of existence, each can constitute its own break or interruption of the ‘passage of forms’ on whose continuity the flow of effective production (that is, ‘reproduction’) depends.” – 52

“the discursive form of the message has a privileged position in the communicative exchange (from the viewpoint of circulation), and that the moments of ‘encoding’ and ‘decoding,’ though only ‘relatively autonomous’ in relation to the communicative process as a whole, are determinate moments” – 52

“In the moment when a historical event passes under the sign of discourse, it is subject to all the complex formal ‘rules’ by which language signifies. To put it paradoxically, the event must become a ‘story’ before it can become a communicative event.” – 52

“Thus the transposition into and out of the ‘message form’ (or the mode of symbolic exchange) is not a random ‘moment,’ which we can take up or ignore at our convenience. The ‘message form’ is a determinate moment; though, at another level, it comprises the surface movements of the communications system only and requires, at another stage, to be integrated into the social relations of the communication process as a whole, of which it forms only a part.” – 52

“Further, though the production structures of television originate the television discourse, they do not constitute a closed system. They draw topics, treatments, agendas, events, personnel, images of the audience, ‘definitions of the situation’ from other sources and other discursive formations within the wider socio-cultural and political structure of which they are a differentiated part. Philip Elliott has expressed this point succinctly, within a more traditional framework, in his discussion of the way in which the audience is both the ‘source’ and the ‘receiver’ of the television message. Thus – to borrow Marx’s terms – circulation and reception are, indeed, ‘moments’ of the production process in television and are reincorporated, via a number of skewed and structured ‘feedbacks,’ into the production process itself. The consumption or reception of the television message is thus also itself a ‘moment’ of the production process in its larger sense, though the latter is ‘predominant’ because it is the ‘point of departure for the realization’ of the
message.” – 53

“It is this set of decoded meanings which ‘have an effect,’ influence, entertain, instruct or persuade, with very complex perceptual, cognitive, emotional, ideological or behavioural consequences. In a ‘determinate’ moment the structure employs a code and yields a ‘message’: at another determinate moment the ‘message,’ via its decodings, issues into the structure of social practices.” – 53

“The degrees of symmetry – that is the degrees of ‘understanding’ and ‘misunderstanding’ in the communicative exchange – depend on the degrees of symmetry/asymmetry (relations of equivalence) established between the positions of the ‘personifications,’ encoder-producer and decoder-receiver. But this in turn depends on the degrees of identity/non-identity between the codes which perfectly or imperfectly transmit, interrupt or systematically distort what has been transmitted.” – 54

“What are called ‘distortions’ or ‘misunderstandings’ arise precisely from the lack of equivalence between the two sides in the communicative exchange” – 54

“At either end of the communicative chain the use of the semiotic paradigm promises to dispel the lingering behaviourism which has dogged mass-media research for so long, especially in its approach to content.” – 55

“The television sign is a complex one. It is itself constituted by the combination of two types of discourse, visual and aural. Moreover, it is an iconic sign, in Peirce’s terminology, because ‘it posseses some of the properties of the thing represented.’…Since the visual discourse translates a three-dimensional world into two-dimensional knowledge planes, it cannot, of course, be the referent or concept it signifies…Reality exists outside language, but it is constantly mediated by and through language: and what we can know and say has to be produced in and through discourse. Discursive ‘knowledge’ is the product not of the transparent representation of of the ‘real’ in language but of the articulation of language on real relations and conditions.” – 55 [sic]

“Naturalism and ‘realism’ – the apparent fidelity of the representation to the thing or concept represented – is the result, the effect, of a certain specific articulation of language on the ‘real.'” – 55

“The operation of naturalized codes reveals not the transparency and ‘naturalness’ of language but the depth, the habituation and the near-universality of the codes in use.” – 55

“what naturalized codes demonstrate is the degree of habituation produced when there is a fundamental alignment and reciprocity – an achieved equivalence – between the encoding and decoding sides of an exchange of meanings.” – 55

“The articulation of an arbitrary sign – whether visual or verbal – with the concept of a referent is the product not of nature but of convention, and the conventionalism of discourses requires the intervention, the support, of codes.” – 56

“Every visual sign in advertising connotes a quality, situation, value, or inference, which is present as an implication or implied meaning, depending on the connotational positioning.” – 56

“Codes of this order clearly contract relations for the sign with the wider universe of ideologies in a society. These codes are the means by which power and ideology are made to signify in particular discourses.” – 56

“The so-called denotative level of the televisual sign is fixed by certain, very complex (but limited or ‘closed’) codes. But its connotative level, though also bounded, is more open, subject to more active transformations, which exploit its polysemic values. Any such already constituted sign is potentially transformable into more than one connotative configuration. Polysemy must not, however, be confused with pluralism. Connotative codes are not equal among themselves” – 57

“The different areas of social life appear to be mapped out into discursive domains, hierarchically organized into dominant or preferred meanings.” – 57

“We say dominant, not ‘determined,’ because it is always possible to order, classify, assign and decode an event within more than one ‘mapping.’ But we say ‘dominant’ because there exists a pattern of ‘preferred readings’; and these both have the institutional/political/ideological
order imprinted in them and have themselves become institutionalized.” – 57

“Thus to clarity a ‘misunderstanding’ at the connotative level, we must refer, through the codes, to the orders of social life, of economic and political power, and of ideology. Further, since these mappings are ‘structured in dominance’ but not closed, the communicative process consists not in the unproblematic assignment of every visual item to its given position within a set of prearranged codes, but of performative rules – rules of competence and use, of logics-in-use – which seek actively to enforce or pre-fer one semantic domain over another and rule items into and out of their appropriate meaning-sets.” – 57

“No doubt misunderstandings of a literal kind do exist. 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. But more often broadcasters are concerned that the audience has failed to take the meaning as they – the broadcasters – intended. What they really mean to say is that viewers are not operating within the ‘dominant’ or ‘preferred’ code.” – 58

“In recent years discrepancies of this kind have usually been explained by reference to ‘selective perception.’ This is the door via which a residual pluralism evades the compulsions of a highly structured, asymmetrical and non-equivalent process. Of course, there will always be private, individual, variant readings. But ‘selective perception’ is almost never as selective, random or privatized as the concept suggests.” – 58

“since there is no necessary correspondence between encoding and decoding, the former can attempt to ‘pre-fer’ but cannot prescribe or guarantee the latter, which has its own conditions of existence. Unless they are wildly aberrant, encoding will have the effect of constructing some of
the limits and parameters within which decodings will operate.” – 58

“But the vast range [of messages] must contain some degree of reciprocity between encoding and decoding moments, otherwise we could not speak of an effective communicative exchange at all.” – 59

“We identify three hypothetical positions from which decodings of a tele-visual discourse may be constructed.” – 59

“The first hypothetical position is that of the dominant-hegemonic position. When the viewer takes the connoted meaning from, say, a television newscast or curet affairs programme full and straight, and decodes the message in terms of the reference code in which it has been encoded, we might say that the view is operating inside the dominant code.” – 59

“The second position we would identify is that of the negotiated code or position. Majority audiences probably understand quite adequately what has been dominantly defined and professionally signified. The dominant definitions, however, are hegemonic precisely because they represent definition of situations and events which are ‘in dominance,’ (global). Dominant definitions connect events, implicitly or explicitly, to grand totalizations, to the great syntagmatic views-of-the-world: they take ‘large views’ of issues: they relate events to the ‘national interest’ or to the level of geo-politics, even if they make these connections in truncated, inverted or mystified ways. The definition of a hegemonic viewpoint is (a) that it defines within its terms the mental horizon, the universe, of possible meanings, of a whole sector of relations in a society or culture; and (b) that it carries with it the stamp of legitimacy – it appears coterminous with what is ‘natural,’ ‘inevitable,’ ‘taken for granted’ about the social order. Decoding within the negotiated version contains a mixture of adaptive and oppositional elements: it acknowledges the legitimacy of the hegemonic definitions to make the grand significations (abstract), while, at a more restricted, situational (situated) level, it makes its own ground rules – it operates with exceptions to the rule.” – 60

“Negotiated codes operate through what we might call particular or situated logics: and these logics are sustained by their differential and unequal relation to the discourses and logics of power.” – 60

“We suspect that the great majority of so-called ‘misunderstandings’ arise from the contradictions and disjunctures between hegemonic-dominant encodings and negotiated-corporate decodings.” – 61

“Finally, it is possible for a viewer perfectly to understand both the literal and the connotative inflection given by a discourse but to decode the message in a globally contrary way. He/she detotalizes the message in the preferred code in order to retotalize the message within some alternative framework of reference…He/she is operating with what we must call an oppositional code.”

Quotes taken from: Hall, Stuart. “Encoding/Decoding.” Google Scholar. PDF
(Note: I cannot find where this particular except was exactly published. May have to find another copy of this to work from if I use this for thesis.)

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