Group Contributors:

Anna Rodrigues, Naseem Aidid, Tahani Ibrahimkahn, Neil Supriyo, Kate Dykstra


First, in view of the definition of (cultural studies) defined in the dictionary as: multidisciplinary study of culture across social strata: the study of culture from a sociological rather than an aesthetic viewpoint. It draws on the social sciences such as politics Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and Marxist literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its past historical precedents, conflicts, and issues.

Stuart Hall, social relations, encoding/decoding, racial prejudice, Marxist roots


external image stuart%20hall.jpgIn 1932, Stuart Hall was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Hall and his mother moved to England in 1951. The two originally settled in Bristol until Hall left to study at Oxford University where he earned his PhD. In the 1950s, Hall launched two journals with other socialists. Hall continued writing through the 60s and 70s and was appointed professor of sociology at the Open University in 1979, where he remained until his retirement in 1997.
(Encyclopedia of Marxism)

Cultural Studies:

Miller Toby mentioned in his article that : Cultural studies is magnetic. It accretes various tendencies that are splintering the human sciences: Marxism, feminism, queer theory and the postcolonial. The ‘cultural” has become a “master-trope” in the humanities, blending and blurring textual analysis of popular culture with social theory and focusing on the margin of power rather than reproducing established lines of force and authority.

Ziauddin Sardar lists the following five main characteristics of cultural studies:
  • Cultural studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture (such as white working class youth in London) would consider the social practices of the youth as they relate to the dominant classes.
  • It has the objective of understanding culture in all its complex forms and of analyzing the social and political context in which culture manifests itself.
  • It is both the object of study and the location of political criticism and action. For example, not only would a cultural studies scholar study an object, but she/he would connect this study to a larger, progressive political project.
  • It attempts to expose and reconcile the division of knowledge, to overcome the split between inferred cultural knowledge and objective (universal) forms of knowledge. and It has a commitment to an ethical evaluation of modern society and to a radical line of political action.
In Canada, cultural studies has sometimes focused on issues of technology and society.

Racial Prejudice and Media:

Hall argues that the media's main purpose is to produce and transform ideologies. Hall defines ideologies as "those images, concepts and premises which provide the frameworks through which we represent, interpret, understand, and 'make sense' of some aspect of social existence (Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 89)." Hall notes that ideology and language are distinct from each other and yet language is necessary to transform ideology by establishing new meanings through articulation. Individuals produce ideological statements in an effort to "make sense of social relations and our place in them (Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 90)." As all individuals make ideological statements (which tend to just be descriptive statements), it is a collective process by which ideologies are transformed. This process is generally an unconscious one. Individuals identify with their ideologies and this allows them to discuss them.
The media produces representations of the social world. Our definitions for race are constructed through the media. These ideas are not uniform and are not limited to "a single, racist conception of the world (Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 91)."
Hall proposes two types of racism in media: overt racism (which occurs when the favourable coverage is openly given) and inferential racism (which occurs when events relating to race are represented in what appear to be a natural situation, such as a fictional television program). Hall also discusses the way races were first generalized and stereotyped in television and film. Many of these "old movies" are still available for viewing and can influence interpretations and understandings of race. Current representations continue to contain traces of racial representations which lead to "multiple, conflicting interpretations (Dines & Humez, 2003, p.95)." Hall uses Barbie to describe how reality (in this case, the reality of femininity) can be manufactured.
Hall states that post-industrialization, globalization and migration have significantly reshaped our cities (2004). Cities are divided by "class and wealth, by rights to and over property, by occupation and use, by life-style and culture, by race and nationality, ethnicity and religion, and by gender and sexuality (Hall, 2004, p.2)." The boundaries and zones that are created overlap and blur into each other. However, people identify with their own neighbourhoods (Hall, 1991).

Encoding and Decoding Model of Communication and how this theory relates to Blogging in the Classroom:


Shannon and Weaver's Traditional Model of Communication:

This model of communication stresses linear communication. The sender sends messages to the receivers. Although those messages are affected by noise (disruptions, technological issues, accents etc.), according to this theory, messages should reach their destinations without much trouble.

(Pierce, 2009)


Stuart Hall's Encoding and Decoding Communication Theory

This model of communication stresses non-linear communication. The sender is an encoder who encodes messages that are sent to the receivers or decoders. The messages are affected by distortions and also influenced by other factors such as physical context, cultural context, education, the gender of the encoder and decoder, the role in society held by the encoder and decoder and, as well, their ethics.

(Hall, 1980)

Definition of Encoding and Decoding:

Encoding: The act of producing the message. Examples: writing, speaking, making a gesture

Decoding: The act of understanding the message. Examples: reading, listening, deciphering a gesture

The process of encoding and decoding is never separate. These actions always work together. ( Pierce, 2009)

Hall's Encoding and Decoding model of communication states that:

-the meaning of the message isn't determined by the sender

-the encoder's message isn't transparent

-the decoder doesn't receive the message passively ( Hall, 1980)

According to Hall, the receiver may decode the message in one of three ways:

-Dominant-hegemonic position - the decoder identifies with the message and agrees with it

-Negotiated position - the decoder negotiates an understanding of the message and maintains an neutral stance

-Oppositional position - the decoder disagrees with the message and rejects it

Connecting this communication theory to blogging in the classroom:

Information on blogging:

-a website maintained usually by one individual, known as a blogger
-the topic of the website is usually devoted to one topic that is regularly updated
-entries ( known as posts) are displayed in reverse-chronological order
-readers are allowed to comment on the posts
-bloggers encourage readers to comment and begin a dialogue with them and other readers

How are blogs used in the classroom:
-a place to publish student work
-as an electronic journal that students can contribute to everyday
-teachers can post a question and students can respond by commenting
-as a way to teach New Media techniques in the classroom

Connecting this communication theory to blogging in the classroom:
Hall’s non-linear theory of communication explains how messages aren’t received passively by receivers but rather decoded and given meaning that is both personal and individual. Messages are sent back and forth between senders and receivers just as in blogging

Culture as Public Pedagogy:

The educational capacity of culture redefines public pedagogy – the politics of power, the political nature of representation and social changes. Hall’s theory analyzes how authority and power actually work in linking texts to contexts, ideology to specific relations of power, and political projects to existing social formations.
Public pedagogy for Hall represents a moral and political practice rather than merely a technical procedure. Hall’s theory also provides the framework for work culture, students bringing knowledge with them, and how public discussions shape knowledge. Public pedagogy becomes part of a critical practice designed to understand the social context of everyday life as lived in relation to power.
Henry Giroux argued that Hall’s work is refreshingly theoretical, contextual and rigorous. It opens dialogue but refuses any reflection on a position. Hall limits the sphere or form of political work such as working in public schools or in museums.
Hall suggested that before accepting any information from any social realm, source of the information should be authenticated based on reception theory. During Medieval Europe, paradigm of knowledge system was based on Platonic Philosophy. In postmodern era, paradigm of knowledge system is based on social, material and situated knowledge (social experience and interaction) [Strickland, 2007]. Therefore, cultural studies have bigger impact in shaping a broader set of discourses and social configurations at work in the dominant social order.
Due to new electronic media, hegemony will key driving force for social changes and knowledge. Hall’s consider social changes as a precondition for a politics that moves in the direction of a less hierarchical, more radical democratic social order. We live in a mixed, mongrelized work; our identity was formed in relation to the formation of a community itself.

Critique of the Theory:

  • Cultural studies is not a unified theory.
  • Doesn’t promote public interest.
  • Cultural studies lacks scientific method.
  • There is no agreement on method and validity.
  • Does not focus upon observing, describing, interpreting, and drawing conclusions but rather examines the role of representation in language, image, and text.
  • Its field may be larger & complex.


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Cultural Studies - Cultural Studies, Theory, And Power, Retrieved from:

Dines, G., & Humez, J. M. M. (2003). Gender, race, and class in media: A text-reader Sage Publications, Inc.

Encarta. World English Dictionary. (2009). Cultural Studies Definition. Retrieved from:

Hammer, R, & Kellner, D (2009) Media/Cultural Studies: Critical Approaches. New York.

Miller, Toby.(2001). A Companion to Cultural Studies. Retrieved from:

Morgan, R. (n.d.) Eliminating Racism in the Classroom. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from Critical Multicultural Pavilion Research Room. Available from

Hall, S. (2004) Divided city: The crisis of London. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from Open Democracy. Available from

Hall, S. (1991). Ethnicity: Identity and difference. Radical America, 23(4), 9-20.

Hall, S. (1980) Encoding/Decoding. Culture, Media, Language. London: Hutchinson/CCCS.

Pierce, T. (2009) The evolution of human communication. From Theory to Practice. Oshawa, ON Canada: Etrepress.

Giroux, H.A. (200); Public Pedagogy as Cultural Politics: S. Hall and the “Crisis” of Culture; Cultural Studies 14 (2) 2000, pp 314-360

YouTube video posting by Ron Strickland; Illinois State University Retrieve on Oct 19, 2010

Grossberg, L; Can Cultural Studies Find True Happiness in Communication

Postmodern Cultural Studies: A Critique Adam Katz, Cultural Studies and the Academy, Retrieved from:

Stuart Hall (2008). In Encyclopedia of Marxism. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from

What's a cultural studies curriculum doing in a college like this? Retrieved from: