Theoretical Approaches-Start Hall

TheoreticalApproaches-Start Hall

TheoreticalApproaches-Start Hall

Accordingto Stuart Hall, there are four main theoretical or philosophicalapproaches that are used to comprehend the manner in whichdifferences are constructed by human beings (Hall,1996). Given that the approaches are used in American Studies, thepaper will seek to define each of the four approaches andconsequently explain the difference between them. The maintheoretical approaches in this focus include, linguistic,socio-linguistic, cultural and psychoanalytical (Hall, 1996).

Accordingto the approach of Linguistic, Start Hall pegs a lot of reliance onthe concept of binary opposition (Hall, 1996). He affirms that withno binary opposition no meaning can actually be derived given thatthe meaning derived is supposed to be relational. Owing to, theconcept of otherness is set up as a bad thing as compared to the normwhich is often accepted by the culture which dominates. Thus, theevidence provided by Stuart Hall is that otherness is expressed as anegative or lack. For instance, to pass an examination is “not-fail”the examination and on the other hand, to fail examination is“not-pass” the examination. But in a society which praises thosewho pass examination, the negation troubles every other person.

Theother significant approach is sociolinguistic which interestinglyunlike the linguistic approach, dismisses the idea of binary (Hall,1996). The idea of binary uses the logic of two things, either/or.However, this approach argues that meaning is dialogic and the needof getting the difference is only pegged on the concept that meaningcan be constructed through a dialogic manner (Hall, 1996). Like thelinguistic approach, otherness is essential as well in this approach.The difference between it and linguistic is that even though there isotherness, there is a power struggle for meaning going on and thestruggle appears to never cease. Such an example given is thatwithout male there is no female but with no female there is no male.

Accordingto the third approach, Stuart Hall introduces the cultural idea.According to this concept, culture depends on giving things meaningby giving them different positions within any classification system.Therefore, unlike the linguistic and sociolinguistic who use binaryand dialogic respectively, the marking of difference between thingsis the basis that establishes symbolic order and mostly referred toas culture. Hence, according to this approach, an individual mustcome up with a distinct definitive difference for them to classifythings (Hall, 1996).

Thefinal approach explored by Stuart Hall is the psychoanalyticalapproach. According to this approach, more weight and relevance isgiven to the concept of the “other”. In this regards, the idea of“other” is seen to be significant in constituting of the self toindividuals as subjects and also helps in identification of onessexuality (Hall, 1996). The difference can be expressed in analogywhere children use “mirror phases” to be able to learn thedifference between themselves and their reflection. This approachseems to share with sociolinguistic on the concept of other. Forexample, using the analogy, individuals learn that the “other”which is their image is a reflection of themselves or any otherperson before the mirror. Thus, each individual is able to comprehendthe limitations that occur in their bodily integration and it occursbut mostly in unconscious manner (Hall, 1996).

Thepaper has explained each concept, detailing the differences andsimilarities between the four theoretical approaches advanced byStuart Hall. For instance, in socio-linguistic and psychoanalysis theconcept of “other” is given much weight. However, the idea ofother is seen to be a bad thing in linguistic approach.Sociolinguistic uses the idea of binary which is unlike thelinguistic approach.


Hall,S. (1996). Race, articulation, and societies structured in dominance.Black British cultural studies: A reader, 16-60.