of Stuart Hall
Cultural Studies vs. Media Studies
• Believes that mass media helps those in power to
• Believes that media exploits the poor and
• Most of us are unaware of our idealogies and
their impacts on our lives.
▫ Hall defines ideologies as the mental frameworks
which different classes and social groups deploy to
make sense of the way society works.
Hall’s View of Mass Com Research
• Research serves the myth of democratic
▫ Society is held together by common norms
Respect of diversity
• Hall uses the term, hegemony to describe
society’s dominance of “haves” over its “have-
• Hall doesn’t subscribe to strict economic
determinism, but thinks that it’s an over-
• Believes that media hegemony is not a conscious
Making Meaning Through Discourse
• Hall states the primary function of discourse is
to make meaning.
▫ Words and other signs contain no instrinsic
▫ “Words don’t mean; people mean.”
• Hall’s question: Where do people get their
▫ They learn what signs mean through
communication and culture.
(Griffin, 2012, p. 346-7)
• Barbie empowering girls commercial.
• Why do some people in other countries hate
▫ Interpretations of television, movies, and music as
a way of life in America.
▫ Conversation of Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel
on the night of 9/11.
• Criticism of Bush by media.
▫ Short-lived, followed by apologies.
▫ Bush asking Americans to go out and support the
American economy with big ticket-item purchases.
• Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
▫ Luke Winslow, business communication professor
at University of Texas.
▫ Morality lessons.
▫ Supports the “American Dream” myth.
• “… a primary goal of ideological scholarship is to
bring comfort to the afflicted and afflict the
comfortable by questioning taken-for-granted
assumptions…” (Winslow, 2010, p. 286).
• Hall, a lead figure in cultural studies is criticized
for his lack of attention to gender issues.
• Criticized for not offering solutions to problems
that he identifies.
• Praised for bringing focus on power when
Uses and Gratifications
Use of Media
• The affect of media on people may depend on
their purposes for using such media.
▫ People use media for different reasons.
• Uniform-effects model (aka hypodermic needle
or silver bullet models).
▫ Everyone in an audience is affected by/interprets
a message in the same way.
• Straight-line effect of media.
▫ Affect on behavior is predicted by media content
and not backgrounds of individuals who view it.
Can People Accurately Report their
Media Use & Motivation?
• Data is collected by asking questions and
• Can people accurately report their reasons for
Typology of Uses & Gratifications
• Passing time.
• Social interaction.
• Criticism: Mainly descriptive rather than a
predictive and explanative theory.
• Criticism: If people can’t accurately report their
reasons for using media, then the theory isn’t
• Future studies should focus on more testable
• Benefit: May increase reflective thought on your
own media use.
▫ Possibly leading to choices that are more satisfying in
the long run.
• Winslow, Luke (2010). “Comforting the
Comfortable: Extreme Makeover Home
Edition’s Idealogical Conquest,” Critical Studies
in Media Communication, v27, p. 269).