Stuart Hall Theories

Stuart Hall Theories

StuartHall Theories

StuartHall was a sociological thinker and theorist for the 21stcentury who explored on how we perceive media differently as humanbeings. According to Hall, we see every kind of text or mediadifferently. To the great thinker, we view the same messagedifferently depending on various contributing factors such as ourlifestyle, education, experience and other social positioningfactors. The exploration on how we view messages differently due tothe social positioning factors saw the Halls theories intoconsideration for the American Studies.

Firstis the philosophical encoding and decoding theory that explains howpeople from different social positions receive and interpret messagespresented to them. According to Hall, the message sender being themessage encoder must be in the same social position with the receiver(decoder) to allow efficient communication. This brings the debatethat the sender must encode their messages according to the idealsand views of their target receiving group. Failure to encode themessage in this manner then results to miscommunication. This textualmodel theory is expressed in various media outlets such as bloggingsites and print industries where the readers interpret content readdifferently. The message sender goal is to reach out to as manydecoders as possible and communicate their message. However, thechallenge in this scenario is that the receiver must decode themessage correctly with minimum understanding gap between the senderand the receiver.

Hallfurther explores the difference between the receivers of messagesrepresented in different media platforms. This is the dominantlypreferred receiver theory between the sender and the receiver. It isa hegemonic receiver rule with little misunderstanding andmiscommunication between the sender and the receiver mainly becausethey both come from the same social and cultural positions. Despiteminimal frictions, it is considered dominant as the sender can reachout to their target receiver without questioning their class orposition in the society. The receivers of the presented message canbe said to be submissive in this theory, and less or no questions arepresented.

However,not all message encoders can be so submissive, and that leads Hall todiscovering the negotiated position audience. The encoders in thiscategory are said to relate well to the presented message but are ofdifferent viewpoints. They are familiar with the dominant culture andsociety but decipher the message at a personal point that distortstheir decoding process. The negotiated-audience is outside theencoders target audience. They are active in questioning the messagepresented by the encoder. According to Hall, the negotiated decodersaccept the message but are quite indifferent about some aspects thatthey regard personal in the presented message.

Finallyis the opposition position audience who can decode the intendedmessage well but choose to misinterpret it into unintended way basedon their societal background. Their margin of understanding is biggercompared to other categories of audience discussed above. The mainreason this category is so indifferent is that they totally disregardthe message offered to them and practice it as a weapon on thesender. Their different values and attitude make them turn againstthe opinions submitted by the sender.

Thereare no specific control measures on how people decode various formsof information given to them. The information decoding indifferencehas resulted to interpretation creativity. Information decodeddifferently has led to the creation of articles, television episodes,paintings and other forms of presentation platforms in new originallycrafted ways based on the encoder opinion on the message decoded inthe above-discussed.


StephenW. Littlejohn, Karen A. Foss, 2008 Theoriesof Human CommunicationCengage Learning Publisher.