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Representation And Media Stuart Hall 1997 (Definition Of Culture )


As a human document dealing with not only the hard facts but also the social and personal aspects of the theme, the documentary is a representational, recorded version of the everyday created through [the directors] personal interpretations of what he or she chooses to place in front of the camera lens. The informational value is mediated through the perspective of the person making it, and it is presented as a mixture of emotion and information (Stuart Hall, Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1997), 83)




Representation and Media Stuart Hall 1997 (Definition of Culture )


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The role of culture in the construction of meanings for Hall is primary because it implies sharing conceptual maps and systems of classification and representations. This analytical framework challenges the national identity and the implicit racial homogeneity of Britishness while the coming of new ethnicities (from the Empire) shed light, in mirrored reflection, on the peculiarity of the majority as an ethnic group.


Why do we refer to all these different ways of producing and communicating meaning as 'languages' or as 'working like languages'? How do languages work? The simple answer is that languages work through representation. They are 'systems of representations'. Essentially, we can say that all these practices 'work like languages', not because they are all written or spoken (they are not), but because they all use some element to stand for or represent what we want to say, to express or communicate a thought, concept, idea or feeling. Spoken language uses sounds, written language uses words, musical language uses notes on a scale, the 'language of the body' uses physical gesture, the fashion industry uses items of clothing, the language of facial expression uses ways of arranging one's features, television uses digitally or electronically produced dots on a screen, traffic lights use red, green and amber to 'say something'. These elements - sounds, words, notes, gestures, expressions, clothes - are part of our natural and material world, but their importance for language is not what they are but what they do, their function . They construct meaning and transmit it.They signify. They don't have any clear meaning in themselves. Rather, they are the vehicles or media which carry meaning because they operate as symbols, which stand for or represent (i.e. symbolize) the meanings we wish to communicate.To use another metaphor, they function as signs. Signs stand for or represent our concepts, ideas and feelings in such a way as to enable others to 'read', decode or interpret their meaning in roughly the same way that we do.(Hall, 1997, pp. 4-5)


Aside from the magazines that represent music culture, women are objectified through their representation even when they are the ones creating the music. In pop music, the majority of listeners are young women. Interestingly enough, with this demographic, women are still very much sexualized. Often the singers are dressed in a provocative manner and dance in a way that objectifies their bodies. Rather than the music being about the sound, the bodies of these dancing artists serve the purpose of an instrument for entertainment. Contrasting this position with a male rock star, the show is usually based around instruments and vocal talent. The male rock star is seen as just that, an artist with musical ability, while a female pop star is seen as a sex object that sings and dances. This creates a power dynamic in which men and women are not on the same plane as musical artists. Women are objects of desire, and men are figures of power. These situations are then broadcasted and reproduced in various forms of media and reach large audiences worldwide.


Cultural theorist Stuart Hall offers an extended meditation on representation. Moving beyond the accuracy or inaccuracy of specific representations, Hall argues that the process of representation itself constitutes the very world it aims to represent, and explores how the shared language of a culture, its signs and images, provides a conceptual roadmap that gives meaning to the world rather than simply reflecting it. Hall's concern throughout is the centrality of culture to the shaping of our collective perceptions, and how the dynamics of media representation reproduce forms of symbolic power.


For cultural scholars, representation matters because it works to produce the world it describes.Communication is always mediated through the standpoint of a speaker who is situated in a specific cultural context. Representations in media and popular culture do not reflect some objective reality but are the product of social, cultural and economic relations and, as such, also the product of certain relations of power. Therefore, critics should read the discourses of popular culture for evidence of the struggle between power and those who resist it.


The politics of the media industry and its representations are related but can have important differences. For example, the diversification of representations in media is undercut when the media industry as a whole remains predominately white and male. Similarly, the democratic potential of social media is undermined if sustaining digital networks involves exploiting workers in non-Western countries, or if access to digital media is inequitably structured on the basis of class or cultural identity. On the other hand, oppositional representations and interpretive strategies can appear in popular culture. These complexities and tensions are why cultural studies maintains that popular media and popular culture must always be understood contextually, as a space of both cultural control and political resistance. 041b061a72


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