REPRESENTATION - STUART HALL
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REPRESENTATION - STUART HALL
Culture is about shared meanings and language is the medium through which meaning is produced and exchanged. Language is hence central to meaning and culture; it is regarded as the key repository of cultural values and meanings.
Language operates as a representational system; through signs, symbols , written words, music we represent thoughts, ideas, feelings and concepts. This representation is crucial to culture.
Culture as representing the best work of an age; literature, music, art. Sum of great ideas. High culture/pop culture. Also can mean shared values of a group or society.
In the context of the book culture has a specialized context: emphasizes the importance of meaning in defining culture. It is not so much a set of things, as it is a set of practices/processes (production + exchange of meanings/making sense of the world).
In culture there is always a diversity of meanings/interpretations. Also, culture is about feelings and emotions, cultural meanings influence our conduct and have real effects.
Participants in a culture give meaning to things by bringing a frame of interpretation relating to how we integrate them in our everyday lives (bricks are used to make a house). Culture is not genetically produced but a process which carries meaning and value and is interpreted meaningfully by the participants. It is the human element of society, separate from the biological driven ones, it is the symbolic domain of society.
Circuit of culture: meanings produced at different sites and circulated through different practices; making sense of our own identity, where we belong, in social interactions. Media also produces meaning, mass media circulates meanings between different cultures. Meaning is produced both in expression and cultural appropriation. The question of meaning arises in all different moments of our cultural circuit; identity, marking of difference, production + consumption, regulation of social conduct.
Members of a culture must share same ‘cultural codes', systems of representation through which they think and feel and represent to themselves and the world objects, concepts, emotions, etc. Members of a culture must speak the same language (not specifically Chinese, but language in a wider sense where meanings can be translated and understood).
Meaning is dialogue - always only partially understood, always an unequal exchange .
Language as a signifying practice; objects of a language construct meaning and transmit it, they operate as symbols for the meanings we wish to communicate.
Representation through language is closely tied up with identity and knowledge, and belongingness to a culture.
Conventional view regards things having meanings outside of how they are represented, representation as a process of secondary importance. In this view, meaning is produces rather than simply found.
In social constructionist approach this representation is seen as entering into the very constitution of things; it accounts for a constitutive process.
In recent times the discourse in culture has been drawing widespread attention. Discourse are ways of constructing knowledge about a particular thing which provide ways of talking about it, forms of knowledge and conduct, social activity or institutional site in society in regards to it. They define what knowledge is true or relevant (think of medicalization of pregnancy as an example; how in modern times pregnancy becomes impossible to imagine for the middle and upper classes without the doctor in the picture).
Difference and similarities both exist between the semiotic (meaning + constitutive) and discursive approach. Semiotics gives more importance to how the meaning is constructed, discursive to the effects of that meaning - to the politics of it.
Focus on language and discursive models of production of culture and meaning is one of the significant shifts in the knowledge of society.
Representation does not simply mean the process through which meaning is produced and exchanged, but also denotes a complex process.
Three different theories about ho w representation connects meaning and language to culture: reflective, constructionist and intentional.
Reflective is the conventional view, language reflecting a meaning that already exists out there.
Personally intended meaning of an object expressed by language is intended.
Constructionist is our main point of focus, where meaning is constructed in and through language.
Two major models of constructionist approach; Saussure's semiotic and Foucault's discursive.
Representation can either mean to
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