How the Coding of a Message Affects It’s Receiving

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Updated: Mar 25, 2023
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Stuart Hall proposes that there are four different stages in the overall process of “communication,” referring mostly to “television (53).” These stages are production, “circulation,” use, and reproduction. All four of the stages of “communication are interlinked in that each stage” (Hall, 52) has the potential to affect the other stages. He believes that the coding of a message affects how it is received, but every stage has certain limits and possibilities. Since every stage in this process affects the next and further decreases the possibilities, the messages are not open to interpretation, consumption, or distribution.

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The stages are all self-governing; however, they remain interdependent. The success of one stage does not determine the success of sages are not consumed whatsoever if the audiences do not derive any meaning from them.

Hall argued that the meaning of “encoding and decoding” (Hall, 54) cannot get a fixed determined sender. From his statement, he considers the message as never transparent, while the audience is no longer the passive recipient of the meaning. He introduces the “lack of fit between” (Hall, 54) the production moment of the message, which is the encoding, and the reception moment, which is decoding. Besides, he views the meaning of the text to be located between the “reader and the producer (53).” Based on his perspective, the producer, who is the encoder, encodes or frames the meaning in a specific way while the reader, who is the decoder, decodes the meaning differs according to the background he or she is operating on; the interpretation frames and the various social status. The several links and notable moments are referred to by Hall as part of a communication circuit based on aspects such as production, distribution, “consumption, and reproduction (52).”

The encoding of a message lies in the work that goes into its “production (52).” It is a collection of secret meanings, and it is necessary that the creators of the messages understand exactly how the audience will receive the messages. The message senders make use of a combination of “visual and aural” (Hall, 52) signals in crafting their messages. The senders only use codes that they hypothesize the receivers will comprehend. The encoding of the message is likely the most important part of the entire process, and the way it is encoded is based on the overall objective of the message. The sender has to create coded messages that speak to the cause that they are attempting to comment on.

Socially, there is an intricate hierarchy that messages fall into because, at every stage in the process of communication, external forces influence how the messages are received by the audience. Audiences of the media and television are receptors of “messages” (Hall, 53), that have the potential to be interpreted differently based on their own particular social circumstances. Different people interpret the same messages in different manners because they were brought up in different cultures and socioeconomic levels and use their past personal experiences to help them understand what exactly is being said. All of this is a part of the decoding process. Due to the potential differences in the backgrounds of the creators and the audiences, these messages can be interpreted differently than they were “originally intended to be interpreted and even become distorted (54).” This explains why the encoding process has to be so precisely controlled and well thought out.

Hall also claims that there are three different paths that audiences can choose to take when they are decoding messages from television because encodings are not directly followed by decodings. The positions that audiences can take are: “dominant-hegemonic, negotiated, and oppositional (59-60).” In the dominant-hegemonic position, the audience directly derives meaning from the code and is able to decode the message in the same manner in which it was originally encoded. In the “negotiated position” (Hall, 60), the audience does acknowledge the main argument; however, they reject interpreting the message in the way in which the sender intended it to be. In this position, the audience modifies the code in a way that makes sense to them based on their own background. In the “oppositional position” (Hall, 61), the audience constructs a completely different meaning than the one that was originally intended to be interpreted while being aware that they are rejecting the original message.

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How the Coding of a Message Affects It’s Receiving. (2023, Mar 25). Retrieved from