Stuart Hall’s approaches– that we can take to understanding how meaning is created through media representations (1997, Representation, London: Sage).
Media representations reflect reality. This is a naive and overly simplistic way of understanding media representations, but this way of seeing things often plays a big part in our assessments of media quality, particularly in relation to works of drama or fiction: ‘As if, he’d never do that’, ‘that would never happen’, ‘impossible’. We do often use the reflective approach to assess how closely and credibly media reflects reality.
Our understanding of reality is created by media representations. This is the opposite of the reflective approach. It is the idea that our existence and our understanding of the world around us is based completely on what we see in the media.
Representations do construct meaning in our lives but this is partnered by our experiences of the ‘real’ world. Rather than our own friendships being understood entirely through the media representations of friendship, this approach says that we understand them partly through those representations but also through our own lived experiences.
We need to think critically about media representations
- who or what is being represented?
- who is the representation for?
- who is doing the representing?