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Flashcards in Reception Analysis Deck (21):

Method of analysis that stresses audience interpretation as the
primary site of meaning-making.

Reception Analysis


• Russian linguist and foundational figure in semiotics and structural analysis of language
• Distinguishes six communication functions, each associated with dimension of the communication process
o Sender to message to receiver (horizontal)
• Can put pressure on any one of these areas
o From context, message, channel, then code (vertical)

Roman Jokabson (1892 – 1982)


“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing.”
• You can’t really tell when someone is being serious or not


Poe's Law


Old-school Traditional View
• Media “inject” people with various beliefs; masses are duped into blindly accepting prevailing ideology
• Advertisers advertise, consumers buy, almost as if without free will
• “false consciousness”
• largely rejected b/c we don’t just mindlessly absorb the media artefact, we participate; this model is too simplistic

Hypodermic Model


group of German-American theorists who developed critical thinking tools to analyze changes into the Western capitalist societies that occurred after Marx developed his theories

Generated one of the first models of critical cultural studies that analyzes the processes of:
o Cultural production and political economy
o Politics of cultural texts
o Audience reception and use of cultural artifacts

The Frankfurt School


Heavy viewing of media gives individuals a distorted view of the world

• i.e. Fox News and Moms
o giving that information back out
• i.e. playing video games for hours and hours; respond in that same manner in the real world
• i.e. Interview with Marilyn Manson, Bowling for Columbine (2002, Michael Moore)
o we live in a media landscape full of fear; so we consume to reduce that feeling of fear

Cultivation Analysis


the process of creating messages according to a particular code



the process of using a code to decipher a message and formulate meaning



Encoding and Decoding

“The Codes of encoding and decoding may not be perfectly symmetrical.”


a set of rules that govern the use of visual and linguistic signs within a culture

never neutral



• Certain individuals are more active in their attention to media and disseminate information to others
• Audiences follow these “opinion leaders”
oi.e. an individual (media figures) give a review and general public considers their opinion before watching a movie
o i.e. Twitter
• i.e. Klout – tracks and gives score based on how influential you are on social media platforms

Two-Step Flow


Types of Meanings

• Dominant
• Oppositional
• Negotiated


“many meanings” (John Fiske) refers to the relative openness of media texts to multiple interpretations
• i.e. TV series Lost and Breaking Bad



Limitation/Problems with the polysemy model (Celeste Condit)

• Not everyone has access to oppositional codes
• Many audience members unfamiliar with Marxism or Queer theory for example
• Ration b/t work required in decoding text is out of whack with pleasure produced in decoding a text
o Many audience members don’t have the tools and therefore don’t have access to the pleasure of decoding


the greater the semiotic excess, the more interpretations possible (aligns with Hall’s concepts of negotiated and oppositional reading)

"semiotic excess" (polysemy)


an open writerly text that is also popular; it relies on audience members already possessing certain interpretive competencies, which they apply in a self-interested productive way.



Audience members share understanding of denotations of a media artefact but disagree about the valuation of these denotation to such a degree that they



Difference b/t polyvalence and polysemy
o i.e. Occupy wall street tent

Polyvalence differs from polysemy in that the difference between the audience members is one of CONNOTATION not of MEANING as a whole


Polysemy Revisited and Revised
(Leah Cecarreli)

a. Strategic Ambiguity – The intentional decision on the part of media makers to craft a vague, semantically rich text that is open to multiple interpretations. (Breaking Bad, for example)

b. Resistive Reading – The creation of a textual meaning that is contrary to the meaning intended by the text’s author, creator or producer. (Similar to Hall’s notion of “Oppositional Reading”)

c. Hermeneutic Depth – Critics recognize that the multiple meanings in a text is the source of its overall meaning. Media studies critics play with and problematize any apparent single meaning and show how it is in fact one of multiple meanings.


Interpretive Communities (Stanley Fish):

Groups tend to interpret a text similarly because they share similar social positions, experiences, and expectations. These positions, experiences and expectations can be socio-cultural or geographical.

a. Shared strategies – the members of an interpretive community will share coding/decoding strategies.

b. Multiple communities – Meaning is not inherent in producers, texts or audiences, but only in the multiple interpretive communities that constitute producers, texts and audiences.


Defined – approach to understanding human social phenomena based up fieldwork often involving both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (surveys) data
Participant Observation – set of research strategies that aim to understand a given group of individuals and their practices through intimate intensive involvement with them in their natural setting

The Ethnographic Method