Encoding Decoding Hall

April 1, 2018 | Author: Anonymous GhyLaqEcUU | Category: Discourse, Code, Ideologies, Communication, Truth
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Traditionally) mass-communicationsresearchhas conceptualizedthe processof communication in terms of a circulation circuit or loop. This model has been - for its concentration on criticized for its linearify - sender/message/receiver the level of messageexchange and for the absenceof 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. This would be to think of the processas a'complex structure in dominance', sustainedthrough the articulation of connectedpractices, each of which, however, retains its distinctiveness and has its own specific modaliry, its own forms and conditions of existence. This second approach, homologous to that which forms the skeleton of commodity production offered in Marx's Grundrisse and in Capital, has the added advantage of bringing out more sharply how a continuous circuit 'passageof production-distribution-production - can be sustained through a forms'.1It also highlights the specificity of the forms in which the product of the process 'appears' in each moment, and thus what distinguishes discursive 'production' from other types of production in our sociery and in modern media systems.

From S. Hall, 'EncodinglDecoding', Ch. 10 in Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe and Paul \Tillis leds), Culture, Media, Language (London: Hutchinson, 1980), pp. 128-38; an edited exrraq from S. Hall, 'Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse', cccs stencilled paper no. 7 (Birmingham: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, 1973).


'object' The of thesepracticesis meaningsand messagesin the form of signvehiclesof a specifickind organized,like any form of communication or language, through the operation of codes within the syntagmatic chain of a discourse.The apparatuses,relationsand practicesof production thus issue, 'production/circulation') in the form of at a certain moment (the moment of 'language'. It is in this diswithin rules the of symbolic vehiclesconstituted cursiveform that the circulation of the'product'takes place.The processthus 'means'- as well requires,at the production end, its material instruments- its as its own setsof social (production)relations the organizationand combination of practiceswithin media apparatuses.But it is in the discursiue form that the circulation of the product takesplace,as well as its distribution to different audiences.Once accomplished,the discoursemust then be translated- transformed, again - into social practicesif the circuit is to be both completedand 'meaning' is taken, there can be po 'consumption'. If the meaneffective.If no ing is not articulatedin practice,it has no effect.The value of this approachis that while eachof the moments,in articulation,is necessaryto the circuit as a whole, no one moment can fully guaranteethe next moment with which it is articulated. Since each has its specific modality and conditions of existence, 'passageof forms' on each can constitute its own break or interruption of the 'reproduction') whose continuity the flow of effective production (that is, depends. Thus while in no way wanting to limit researchto 'following only those leads which emerge from content analysis'2we must recognize that the discursive form of the messagehas a privileged position in the communicative exchange (from the viewpoint of circulation), and that the moments of 'encoding' and 'decoding', 'relatively autonomous' in relation to the communithough only 'raw' historical event cative processas a whole, are determinate moments. A cannot, in that form, be transmitted by, say, a television newscast.Events can only be signified within the aural-visual forms of the televisual discourse.In the moment when a historical event passesunder the sign of discourse, it is 'rules' by which language signifies. To put subject to all the complex formal 'story' before it can become a it paradoxically, the event must become a 'in communicatiue euent.In that moment the formal sub-rules of discourseare dominance', without, of course, subordinating out of existence the historical event so signified, the social relations in which the rules are set to work or the social and political consequencesof the event having been signified in this way. 'form 'messageform' is The the necessary of appearance' of the event in its passagefrom source to receiver.Thus the transposition into and out of the 'messageform' (or the mode of symbolicexchange)is not a random 'moment', 'messageform' is which we can take up or ignore at our convenience.The a at another level, it comprisesthe surfacemovedeterminatemoment; though, ments of the communicationssystemonly and requires,at another stage,to be integratedintothe socialrelationsof the communicationprocessas a whole, of which it forms only a part.


From this ge communicative with their pract technical infras analogy of Capi tion, here, const course, the proc framed through routines of prod ogies, institutio about the audier this production slon orlglnate th They draw top audience,'defini formations withi are a differentia within a more tri audienceis both to borrow Marx the production p skewed and stru consumption or 'moment' of the 'predominant' be message.Product identical, but thr totaliry formed b, At a certain po messagesin the f, tions of producti product to be .r, which the formal messagecan have 'use', it must firs ingfully decoded. influence,entertai tive, emotional, i, moment the strucr minate moment t. social practices. V audience receptio terms. The typical ments- effects. us

Er.rcoolr.ic/D rcoDtNG From this generalperspective,we may crudely characterizethe television communicativeprocessas follows. The institutional structuresof broadcasting, with their practicesand nerworks of production, their organizedrelationsand technical infrastructures, are required to produce a programme. Using the analogy of capital, this is the 'labour process'in the discursivemode. production, here,constructsthe message.In one sense,then, the circuit beginshere.of course,the production processis not without its 'discursive'aspect:ir, roo, is framed throughout by meanings and ideas: knowledge-in-use concerning the routines of production, historically definedtechnicalskills, professionalideologies, institutional knowledge, definitions and assumptions, assumprions about the audienceand so on frame the constitution of the programme through this production structure. Further, though the production structures of television originatethe televisiondiscourse,they do not constitute a closedsystem. They draw topics, treatments, agendas, eyents, personnel, images of the audience,'definitionsof the situation'from other sourcesand other discursive formationswithin the wider socio-culturaland political structureof which they are a differentiated part. Philip Elliott has expressed this point succinctly, within a more traditional framework, in his discussionof the way in which the audienceis 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' becauseit is the 'point of departure for the realization' of the message.Production and reception of the television messageare not, therefore, identical, but they are related: they are differentiated moments within the totaliry formed by the social relations of the communicative processas a whole. At a certain point, however, the broadcasting structures must yield encoded messagesin the form of a meaningful discourse. The institution-societal relations of production must pass under the discursive rules of language for its product to be 'realized'. This initiates a further differentiated moment, in which the formal rules of discourseand language are in dominance. Beforethis messagecan have an 'effect' (however defined), satisfy a 'need' or be pur to a 'use', it must first be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and be meaningfully decoded. It is this set of decoded meanings which ,have an effec', 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.we are now fully aware that this re-entry into the practicesof audience reception and 'use' cannot be understood in simple behavioural terms. The typical processesidentified in positivistic research on isolated elements - effects,uses, 'gratifications' - are themselvesframed by structuresof


Srulnr Hall

,/'"*:i':?ilTT':t''*' \ decoding


meanlng structures I

meaning structures 2

frameworks of knowledge relations ol production technical infrastructure

frameworks of knowledge relations of production technical infrastructure

understanding, as well as being produced by social and economic relations, 'realization' at the reception end of the chain and which which shape their permit the meanings signified in the discourseto be transposedinto practice or consciousness(to acquire social use value or political effectiviry). 'meaning structures 1' and Clearly, what we have labelled in the diagram 'meaning structures 2' may not be the same. They do not constitute an 'immediate identity'. The codes of encodingand decoding mav not be perfectly 'understanding' degreesof The [email protected] Ummg11g4l, inil-'misunderstanding' in the communicative exchange - depend on the degreesof symmetry/asymmetry (relationsof equivalence)establishedberween 'personifications', encoder-producerand decoder-receiver. the positions of the But this in turn depends on the degreesof identity/non-identity between the codes which perfectly or imperfectly transmit, interrupt or systematically distort what has been transmitted. The lack of fit between the codes has a great deal to do with the structural differencesof relation and position between broadcasters and audiences, but it also has something to do with the asym'source' and 'receiver' at the moment of tranSformetry between the codes of 'distortions' or mation into and out of the discursive form. What are called

.misunderstandings'[email protected]

'relatlve lnes the tI excnange. Lrnce agalnr tnls qerlnes communlcatrve e the communlcatrve two sldes two sldes ln the

ffiateness,'oftheentryandexitofthemessageinits discursive moments. The application of this rudimentary paradigm has already begun to trans'content'. We are just form our understandingof the older term, television beginning to see how it might also transform our understanding of audience


reception,'read announcedin c, there seemsson calledaudience of the communi, the lingering bel especiallyin its gramme is not a been almost im' municative pror behaviourism.\ violence on the we have continl were unable to The televisior tion of fwo type in Peirce'stermi represented'.4T provided the sit, the visual discor planes,it canno the film can bar constantly medi has to be prodt product not of t the articulation intelligible disco coded signs too signs. There is apparent fidelitl the result, the el It is the result o Certain codes community or cr be constructedbe 'naturally' g universalify' in 'natural'visual no codes have ir alized. The ope: 'naturalness' of ality of the code has the (ideolol present.But we


'reading' and responseas well. Beginningsand endings have been reception, announced in communications researchbefore, so we must be cautious. But there seemssome ground for thinking that a new and exciting phase in socalled audienceresearch,of a quite new kind, may be opening up. At either end of the communicative chain the use of the semiotic paradigm promises to dispel the lingering behaviourism which has doggedmass-mediaresearch for so long, especially in its approach to content. Though we know the television programme is not a behavioural input, like a tap on the knee cap, it seemsto have Le.n al..rost impossible for traditional researchersto conceptualize the communicative process without lapsing into one or other variant of low-flying 'We know, as Gerbner has remarked, that representationsof behaviourism. 'are not violencebut messagesabout violence':3but violence on the TV screen we have continued to researchthe questionof violence,for example, as if we were unable to comprehendthis epistemologicaldistinction' The televisionsign is a complex one. It is itself constituted by the combination of fwo rypes of discourse,visual and aural. Moreover, it is an iconic sign, 'it some of the properties of the thing in Peirce'sterminology, because posseses represented'.4This is a point which has led to a great deal of confusion and has provided the site of intense controversy in the study of visual language. Since the visual discoursetranslates a three-dimensionalworld into rwo-dimensional planes, it cannot, of course, be the referentor concept it signifies. The dog in th. fil- can bark but it cannot bite! Realiry exists outside language,but.it is 11 constantly mediatedby and through language:and what we can know and sav I I ,

proa;.r n#;ilf.








knowledge'is t 'real' in languagebut of the of ..p..r.nt"ti,on

the articulation of language on real relations and conditions. Thus there is no intelligible discoursewithout the operation of a code. Iconic signs are therefore coded signs too - even if the codes here work differently from those of other 'realism' - the signs. There is no degree zero in language. Naturalism and apparent fidelity of the representationto the thing or concept represented is the result, the effect, of a certain specificarticulation of language on the'real'. It is the result of a discursive practice. Certain codesmay, of course, be so widely distributed in a specific language community or culture, and be learnedat so early an age,that they appear not to be constructed - the effect of an articulation befween sign and referent - but to 'nearbe 'naturally' given. Simple visual signs appear to have achieved a universality' in this sense: though evidence remains that even apparently 'natural' visual codes are culture-specific.However, this does not mean that no codes have intervened; rather, that the codes have been profoundly naturalized. The operation of naturalized codes reveals not the transparency and 'naturalness' of languagebut the depth, the habituation and the near-univers'natural' recognitions. This ality of the codes in use. They produce apparently has the (ideological)effect of concealingthe practicesof coding which are Actually' what naturalized present.But we must not be fooled by appearances.


SrunnrHn-l a habituation produced when there is codes demonstrate is the degree of - an achieved tltlt-"1ff:t;::,:::: fundamental alignment and reciprociry exchange of meanings' The functioning the encoding "na a..oaittg sldes of an status of ,ia. will frlquently assume the 'cow' of the codes on .h" ;;:.di"g for sign visual to think that the naturalized percepdons.ir,i, tJ"a, us visual tfre animal' cow' But if we think of the actually is (rather tn^n)'i"'"zrs) r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f a c o w i n a m a n u a l o n a n i m a l h u s b a n d r y _ a n d , e v e n mare ore'of 'cow' - we can see that both' in different degrees' the linguistic sign of the animal they represent' The arbitrary with respect to the concept visual or verbal - with the concept articulation of an arbitrary sign whelher ofareferentistheproduct"otofnaturebutofconvention'andtheconv e n t i o n a l i s m o f d i s c o u r s e s r e q u i r e s t h'look e i n t e r v e n t i o n , t h e S u preal p o r tworld 'ofcodes. like obiects in the Thus Eco has "rgued ti"i ito"it signs (that is, the codes) of perception in the becausethey reproduce the conditions 'conditions of perception' are' however' the result of a highly viewer'.5 These c o d e d , e v e n i f u i * " " f f y " n t o " s t i o t " , s e t o f o p e r a t i o n s - d e c o d i n g s ' T h i s i sIconic as image as it is of any other signtrue of the photograpiri. o, televisual 'read' as natural because vulnerable to being signs are, however, p"iitt'I"'ty of widely distributed and becausethis type visual codesor p.r..fio.;;;;.ry 'cow' possesses sign' linguistic sign: the sign is less arbitrary than a linguistic noneofthepropertiesofthethingrepresented'whereasthevisualsignappears to possesssome of.those properttes'

t...1 of its contextual referenceand The level of connotation of the visual sign, is the fields o1 meaning and association' positioning in different di"o"iu" pointwherealreadycoded.signsintersectwiththedeepsemanticcodesofa


we might dimensions. moreactiveideological 'purely

Htrt' too' there is no take an example from advertising discoutse' representation' Every visual sign in denotative', "nd ..a"inly no "'"it'ral', value or inference'which is presentas advertisingconnotes" qu"lity, situation, positiondepending on the connotational o, i*pliJ *t""i"g, "" t-piL"i"n 'warm garment' alw"ys signifies a iit #t"*t ing. In Barthes's .*"-Jt, 'Leeping warm'' But it is also (denotation) and thus ihe activity/value of 'the coming of winter' or to signify possible, at its more connotative ieuels' 'a cold day'. And, in tnt 'ptti"lized sub-codesof fashion' sweater may also or' alternatively' an.informal sryle connote a fashionablesryle of baute couture the visual background and positioned by of dress. But set "guin'i the right 'long of Codes woods''6 the in "nt,tm,iwalk romantic sub-code,it may connote of universe wider relations fo' tht sign with the this order clearly .on*t ideology a'nd power the tnt"n' by which 'maps of ideologiesin a society' Thesecodes are They refer signs to the discourses' are made to signify in particular 'maps of social reality' is classified; and those meaning, into which ".'i"rr"r. practices' and usages'power and have the whole range of social meanings'



'written in' to them. The connotative levels of signifiers, Barthes interest 'have a close communication with culture, knowledge, history, remarked, and it is through them, so to speak, that the environmental world invades the linguistic and semantic system. They are, if you like, the fragments of ideologY''7 The so-called denotative leuel of the televisual sign is fixed by certain, very 'closed') codes.But its connotative/euel,though also complex (but limited or more open, is subject to more active transformations, which exploit bounded, values. Any such already constituted sign is potentially transits polysemic formable into more than one connotative configuration. Polysemy must not, however, be confused with pluralism. Connotative codes^re not equal among themselves.Any society/culture tends, with varying degrees of closure, to imposeits classificationsof the social and cultural and political world. These constitute a dominant cultural order, though it is neither univocal nor un'structure of discoursesin dominance' is a contested. This question of the crucial point. The different areas of social life appear to be mapped out into discursivedomains, hierarchically organized into dominant or preferred meanizgs. New, problematic or troubling events,which breachour expectanciesand 'common-sense constructs', to our 'taken-for-granted' run counter to our knowledge of social structures, must be assignedto their discursive domains 'make before they can be said to sense'.The most common way of 'mapping' them is to assign the new to some domain or other of the existing 'maps of \We say dominant, not 'determined', becauseit is iroblematic social realiry'. always possibleto order, classify, assignand decodean event within more than one ''mapping'. But we say 'dominant' because there exists a pattern of 'preferred readings'; and these both have the institutionaVpolitical/ideological brder imprinted in them and have themselvesbecome institutionalized.8 The 'preferred meanings'have the whole social order embeddedin them domains of gs a set of meanings, practices and beliefs: the everyday knowledge of social :structures, of 'how things work for all practical purposesin this culture', the rank order of power and interest and the structure of legitimations, limits and itanctions. Thus to clarify a 'misunderstanding' at the connotative level, we ref.er,through the codes, to the orders of social life, of economic and ical power and of ideology. Further, since thesemappings are 'structured dominance' but not closed. the communicative Drocessconsists not in the tic assignmentof every visual item to its given position within a set pFprearrangedcodes, but of performatiue rules - rules of competenceand use, tif logics-in-use- which seekactively to enforce or pre-fer one semanticdomain bver another and rule items into and out of their appropriate meaning-sets. I semiology has too often neglected this practice of interpretatiue uork, this constitutes, in fact, the real relations of broadcast practices in on. In speaking of dominant meanings, then, we are not talking about a oneprocesswhich governs how all events will be signified. It consistsof the


SrumrHeu 'work'

required to enforce, win plausibility for and command as regitimate a decoding of the event within the limit of dominant definitions in which it haq been connoratively signified. Terni has remarked: By the word readins we mean not only the capacity to identify and decodea certain number of signs,but also the subjectiv..up".iry io put them into a creative relation between themselvesand with oth..-rignr,l capacity which is, by its-erf,the condition for a complete awareness of one's total environment.9 our quarrel here is with the notion of 'subjectivecapaciry', as if the referentof a televisionaldiscourse were an objective fact but th. i.rterp.etative level were an individualizedand private matter. euite the opposite ,..-r ro be the case. The televisual practice takes 'objective' (that is, systemic) responsibility precisely for the relations which disparate signs contract with one another in any discursiveinstance,and-thus continually rearranges,delimits and prescribes into what 'awarenessof one's total environment' these items are arranged. This brings us to the question of misunderstandings. Television producers who find their message 'failing to get across' are frequently concerned to straighten out the kinks in the communication chain, thus facilitating the 'effectiveness' of their communication. Much research which claims the objectiviry of 'policy-oriented analysis' reproduces this administrative goal by attempting to discover how much of a messagethe audience recallsand to improve the extent of understanding. No doubt misunderstandings of a literal kind do exist. The viewer does not know the terms employed, cln.rot follow the complex logic of argumenr or exposirion, is unfamiliar with the language, finds the conceptstoo alien or difficult or is foxed by the expository narrarive. But more often broadcastersare concernedthat the audience has failed to take the meaning as they - the broadcasters- intended. vhat they reaily mean to say is that viewers are not operating within the ,dominant, or:preferred, code. Their ideal is 'perfectly transparent communication'. Instead, what they have to confront is'systematically distorted communication,.l0 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 wiil always be private, individual, variant readings.But 'selectiveperception' is almost ,r.u., ", ,.I..tiu., random or privatized as the concept suggesrs.The patterns exhibit, acrossindividual variants' significant clusterings. Any new approach to audience studies will therefore have to begin with a critique of ,selectiveperception, theory. It was argued earlier that since there is no necessarycorrespondence berween encoding and decoding, the former can attempt to 'pre-fei' but cannor prescribeor guaranteethe 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 paramererswithin which decodingswill operate. If therewere no


Er'tcoorNc/DEcoDtNG limits, audiencescould simply read whateverthey liked into any message. No doubt some total misunderstandingsof this kind do exist. But ,h. u"r, ,".rg. must contaln some degree of reciprocity between encoding and decodiig moments' otherwise we could not speak of an effectiu. .ori,nunrcative ex_ changeat all. Nevertheless,this 'correspondence' is not given but constructed. 'natural' It is not but the product of an articulation berween two distinct moments.And the former cannot determineor guarantee,in a simpre sense, which decoding codes will be employed. otherwise communication wourd be a perfectly equivalent circuit, and every message would be an rnstance of 'perfectly transparent communication'. we must think, then, of the variant articulations in which encoding/decoding can be combined. To elaborate on this, we offer a hypothetical analysis of some possible decoding positions, in order to reinforce the point of'no necesr"ry.o...rpondence,.1i we identify three hypothetical positions from which decodings of a televisual discoursemay be constructed. These need to be empirically tested and refined. But the argument that decodings do not folrow inevitabry from encodings,that they are not identical,reinforcesthe argument ,no of necessary correspondence'.It also helps to deconstru.t the .o-monsense meaning of 'misunderstanding' in terms of a theory of .systematically distorted communication'. The first hypothetical position is that of the dominant-hegemonic position. when the viewer takes the connoted meaning from, say, a tievision newscast or current affairs programme full and straight, and iecodes the messagein terms of the referencecode in which it has been encoded, we might say that the viewer is operating inside tbe dominant code.Thisi, th. id.ul]typic"l .are of 'perfectly transparent communication' - or as close as we are lit eti to come to it 'for all purposes'. rfithin this we can distinguish the _practical positions produced by the professionar code. This is the position (produced by what we perhapsought to identify as the operation of " .-"r".o1.,) which the professional broadcastersassume when encoding a messagewhich hasarready been signified in a hegemonic manner. The proiessional code is ,relatively independent' of the dominant code, in that ii appries criteria and transformational operations of its own, especially those of a technico-practical nature. The professionalcode, however, operates witbin the 'hegemony, of the dominant code. Indeed, it serves to reproduce the dominant definitions precisely by bracketing hegemonic qualiry and operating instead with displaced -their professionalcodings which foreground such apparenily neutral-technicarques"'t1al qualiry, news and presentational uaiues, televisual quality, ::_::^:^: protessronalism'and so on. The hegemonic interpretations of, say, the politics of.Northern Ireland' or the Chileai coup or the Industrial Relations Bill are principally generated by political and -ilit".y elites: the particular choice of presentationaloccasions and formats, the selectionof personnel,the choice of the sragingof debatesare selectedand combined through the operarion lTlr*tr' ot the professionalcode. How the broadcastingprofessionals'are able both to


SrunnrHnu'relatively autonomous'codesof their own and to act in such a operate with way as to reproduce (not without contradiction) the hegemonic signification of events is a complex matter which cannot be further spelled out here. It must suffice to say that the professionalsare linked with the defining elites not only 'ideological apparaby the institutional position of broadcastingitself as an tus',r2 but also by the structure of access(that is, the systematic'over'definition of the situation' in accessing'of selectiveelite personneland their television).It may even be said that the professionalcodes serve to reproduce hegemonic definitions specifically by not ouertly biasing their operations in a dominant direction: ideological reproduction therefore takes place here inad'behind men's backs'.t3Of cou.se, conflicts, contravertently, unconsciously, regularlyarisebetweenthe dominant and dictions and evenmisunderstandings signifyingagencies. and their professional significations the is that of the negotiated code or would identify The second position we position. Majority audiencesprobably understand quite adequately what has been dominantly defined and professionally signified. The dominant definitions, however) are hegemonic precisely becausethey represent definitions of situations and eventswhich are'in dominance', (Slobal). Dominant definitions connect events, implicitly or explicitly, to grand totalizations, to the great 'large views' of issues: they relate syntagmatic views-of-the-world: they take 'national interest' or to the level of geo-politics, even if they make events to the these connections in truncated, inverted or mystified ways. The definition of a hegemonic viewpoint is (a) that it defineswithin its terms the mental horizon, the universe,of possiblemeanings,of a whole sector of relations in a socieryor culture; and (b) that it carries with it the stamp of legitimacy - it appears 'natural', 'inevitable', 'taken for granted' about the coterminous with what is social order. Decoding within the negotiated uersion 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. It accords the privileged position to the dominant definitions of events while reserving the right to make a more 'local conditions', to its own morc corporate posinegotiated application to tions. This negotiated version of the dominant ideology is thus shot through with contradictions, though theseare only on certain occasions brought to full visibility. Negotiated codes operate through what we might call particular or situated logics: and these logics are sustainedby their differential and unequal relation to the discourses and logics of power. The simplest example of a negotiated code is that which governsthe responseof a worker to the notion of an Industrial Relations Bill limiting the right to strike or to arguments for a 'national interest' economic debate the decoder wages freeze.At the level of the may adopt the hegemonicdefinition, agreeingthat'we must all pay ourselves lessin order to combat inflation'. This, however,may have little or no relation to his/her willingness to go on strike for better pay and conditions or to oppose


the Industrial Relationsl suspectthat the great mr c o n t r a d i c t i o n sa n d d i s j u negotiated-corporate de most provoke defining r munications'. Finally, it is possiblef< the connorariveinflectio globally conrrary way. F order to retotalize the n ence.This is the caseof t wagesbut'reads' everyn sheis operatingwith wh: significant political morr broadcastingorganizatio eventswhich are normall be given an oppositiona strugglein discourse- is

1. Foranexplicationand argument,seeS.Hall, , in wpcs5 (1974\. 2. J. D. Halloran, .Undr Colloquyon'Understa 3. G. Gerbneret al., Vi : Functions(The Annenl 4. Charles Peirce,Specul Harvard UniversityPrt , J . UmbertoEco,'Articul: 6. Roland Barthes,'Rhett 7. Roland Barthes,Eleme 8 . For an extendedcritir reading'(unpublished I P. Terni, 'Memorandul vision' (Universiwof L The phraseis Haberm Dretzel (ed.), Recent , however, in a differenr 11. For a sociological forr ,^ outlined here but whi, dtscourse,seeFrank pat . Kee 1971). See Louis Althusser. .l Pbilosophy and Other For an expansion of this in broadcasrins'.4th : 1972), and'Broadcastir AMcn Symposium, Univ


ENcootNc/DecoDlNG to act in such a c signification of rut here. It must rg elites not only ological appara'overFstematic the situation' in rve to reproduce : operations in a place here inad:onflicts, contrahe dominant and Totiated code or luately what has lominant defini:nt definitions of Linantdefinitions rns, to the great ;sues:they relate :ven if they make re definition of a mental horizon, 'ns in a society or acy - it appears 'anted' about the ins a mixture of egitimacy of the ract), while, at a ground rules - it d position to the :o make a more ? corporate posihus shot through ns brought to full call particular or rtial and unequal :st example of a :r to the notion of arguments for a ebate the decoder all pay ourselves nle or no relation :ions or to oppose

',ation.We r I r -ofr -shopfloor L^. or union organrz level the at Bill t-h.Ind.trr.i"l Relations

thattheo""' -li'i";i'-';9 suspect

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::'ff ::ff il::ff il1il;;;:'";;';;;h'g'*oni'-dominantencodingsand in the levelswhich thesemismatches It is

d;:;ll;gt "".a iust 'failure in comnegotiated-co,qo:."'.t to identifya professionals o.r,n,ng-.li*, provok" mosr tH;[:Ti, both the literal and porriut. for a viewer perfectlyto understand in a the message glutt' Uy u di"o""t but to decode in the connotatlvei"flection code in the preferred detotalizesthe message globattyconrrary*"y.;;i'J. o r d e r t o r e t o t a l l z e t n e m e s s a g e w i t h i n s o maedebate a l t e r non " t the i v e need f r a mto e wlimit orkofrefervilwer who listensto ence.This is the caseof the wagesbut'reads'.".tr."tt"ionofthe.'nationalinterest'as'classinterest''He/ code'O'neof the most *i,n "uh"t *t must call an oppositional ;r.";;;.g significantpolitical-o-t"t'(theyalsotointidtwithcrisispointswithinthe is the point when reasons) o.g"ni'"iiot' tn"*'itu"" for obvious broadcasting to and decodedin a negotiatedway begin eventswhich "r. not*uit"G"iii"a 'politics of signification'- the Here the be given an oppositio"li """ai"g' ,t..f,gI. in discourse is ioined' NOTES l.

of Marx's implication-s on theme^thodological andcommenrary For an explication to the Grundrisse" t\ii7it'Zau'tioi M"'*'' of arsument'seeS' Hall,'A reading

'i;1.i_r:,l3lJ] .understanding paperfor the councrlof Europe television,,. 2. -colloquv 'undt"iin;"fi#*f[q,' 1973)' of Leicester (Univeriiw on andSvmbolic Trends of Drama:';"ii"iy rv ,' ot',ioi'ni' ;' 3. G. Gerbner 970)' 1 of Pennsvlvania u"iutrsiry Functions(Th.At"t;;t;iti'ooi' Mass': in coti""d Pipers (cambridge' 4. " charles v"irrr, sp";):io;;i'"e;";';)' Press1931-58)' i"iu"ta University 'e'titt'l"tions of the cinematiccode" in Cinemanttcs'no. 1. E.o, Umberto 5. 'Rh;;;;i; ;f the image" in wPcs| (re7r\' 6:. R;i;il;;;h'.', 1967\' 'Preferred il-h;; Eleientsof,semiologv,(Cape ;. ilffi seeAlan o'Shea' tgia-i"g]' t;i;**;i;;;;?t;;d o' 8. For an extended

of Birminsham)' Universiw 'Understanding ;."d;;'lffi;;ritr'"a"i"pticics' Tele6ottoq"v"on 'tt.-o""i""t'i{H;-;]i91eu'opi 9. P.Terni,

(iJniversitvof Leicester1973)' ;it;' in P' ;6y.r.l"tically distortedcommunications', 10. The phrasei, H"U.r,iril"'i" here' used is It 1970)' (Collier-Macmillan Dretzel kd.\, Recent Sociology2




see Louis Althusser,

positions whichis,cl:s:'insome-wavs'.:.".*' theorvot

about_the ""i- p"-[.r rhe argument outrinedherebut ;ii:ffi;;; po7;'i/,ot order (Macgibbonand ""a ,.. r'"t'r'*iltii ;Zi";;i";;;itit" discourse, and Kee1971). .ldeology state apparatuses', in Lenin and ideological

1971)' Books iit.i"inv ""'doii'-' iuov't'1N"*Left t*tttn"Vinternal dialectic Stuattllall"Tht 'e" 13. For an expansionof this "'gutt"t' Manchester (Universiry n'iiiting 'of'ity couplet" jence/impartial in broadcasting', 4th Syiposiu.m o' 'l 97 21, and'n'o"at"'t#g ind the""""f""inJtpe'n i e75 (ctcs unpublishedpaper)' Svmpos,'*,'J;i;'?'i;"'i;';;;;;;' Rr"rcR


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