Media content and the power of interpretation (Antonio Gramsci: Marxist…
Media content and the power of interpretation
Negotiated media influence
: the result of a negotiated process. Media helps us construct social reality by giving us images of reality (symbolic resources). Media offers us ready-made meanings
Birmingham Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (BCCC)
: first to study the way messages & meanings constructed in popular media were (no) decoded by different types of audiences. --> it drew on insights into the ideology & culture (by Gramsci & Althusser), insights from structural linguistics & structuralism and finally, culturalism.
: Marxist who wanted to understand why it was racism and not socialism/Marxism that won the ideological battle in Italy and in other parts of EU
: used this notion to understand how a social power succeeds in gaining the consent of the population (exercised through state but mostly civil society institutions) - how an ideology can become a ruling ideology
: different ideologies can compete for hegemonic status. It is a matter of lived everyday practice & operates through self-government (way to understand the world)
(highly schooled people who produced & reproduced ideologies) intellectuals and
(they help unify theory & practice, 'the function of organic intellectuals is to forge links between theory and ideology')
British cultural studies
were developed to understand how people were controlled ideologically but also how they could resist.
s model of hegemony to analyze the hegemonic ruling forces & counterhegemonic practices of contestation
: interdisciplinary perspective, a trans-disciplinary category in the social sciences that originated in linguistics (elements of structuralism: the structure determines the elements in a whole, every system has a structure, structures are the real things that lie under the surface of appearances)
was linguistic who contextualized a new type of science called semiology (the science of signs). Langue (system of rules & conventions that exists before individual use of language) over parole (speech). CRITIQUE: meaning of a sign has to be understood in the context of its use.
A linguistic sign is not a link between a thing & a name but between a concept (
- romance) and a sound pattern/image/symbol (
- rose). The sign constitutes the unity of signifier. No sign makes sense on its own but only in relation to other signs in the paradigmatic structure of the system. The link between these 2 is arbitrary & based on mere convention.
tired to apply this idea of structure semiotics in order to understand the phenomenon in everyday popular culture. '
' 1957 --> tried to identify the big structures & uncover the myths that are being distributed in everyday culture. His work was an attempt at a semiological analysis of the mechanisms of this language & an ideological critique of mass culture. He was interested in the
(ideology - any type of public practice/event) of petit-bourgeois (lower middle class) culture & sets out to analyze the meaning of everyday signs. --> 3 types of reading a myth: stands for a specific concept, is read as a factual system & people who understand the distortion taking place.
: structuralist Marxist. For him, ideology is 'a representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence' (an ideology explains why certain people act in a certain way).
(Ideological State Apartus) works through ideology (are the sites of ideological struggles - there is always a dominant ISA ex church, school system).
(Repressive State Apartus) works through violence and repression (State can exercise its power through violence)
: we think ourselves constantly through ideologies (for him ideologies try to single you out so that you are able to recognize yourself) CRITIQUES: subjectivity is more split, he does not give us an account of what happens if we fail to recognize ourselves, there is no account of why we would accept this particular type of subjectivity & ideology over another.
framework is a good example of structuralism in Marxist theory. Its model of subjectivity does not leave a lot of room for resistance & freedom. The idea that ideology is an imaginary phenomenon that shapes subjectivity & identity is key to cultural studies. Cultural studies try to recognize how people actively interpret messages
: a new way of thinking about culture emerged in Britain with the works of
in 50/60s: culture as 'common, ordinary & everyday' thing rooted in everyday practice. Culture was no longer exclusively a matter of high bourgeoisie culture & art. A culturalist perspective emerged in post-War England
: says working class has been exploited, he criticized mass-produced pulp literature & culture & valued genuine popular culture.
: focuses on the links between literature, politics & an industrialized class-based society. Agreed that the bourgeois culture is the dominant culture & refused to accept the terminology of 'the masses'
: known for his encoding/decoding model of communication. Text written in 1973 & 1980 explains the preference for qualitative & interpretative research methods in cultural and audience studies. Communication is marked by a lack of fit between the codes used in encoding & decoding messages.
text (inspired by structuralist semiotics analysis). Decoding as a process of opening up what is hidden or disguised in the distorted communication of popular culture.
text (more on structuralist Marxism). Messages are seen as products generated in the production process of communication
Connotation & denotation
. Hall distinguishes decoding according to the hegemonic code/negociated code. The way you decode messages & signs depends on the codes at your disposal