Critically understanding interactivity—the way people interact with media of various forms—has been a core concern of media studies since its inception. Long before personal computers and mobile devices arrived in family homes, media and cultural studies sought to make visible the different impact that mass media, including film and television, could have in people’s lives. This undertaking is exemplified in Stuart Hall’s model of encoding and decoding, which, at its most basic level, argues that media are not passively received, but rather actively decoded and interpreted by every audience member, every recipient (Hall 1973/1980). Hall’s model acknowledges that media are produced and consumed within specific contexts and power structures that often promote a dominant reading, a way of interpreting a media text aligned with the producer’s intended meaning. Yet it is Hall’s argument that an oppositional reading is possible, that audiences may interact differently and take a different meaning from a media text, that is most important. Hall thus argues that all media viewing is an act of interpretation, and the perspective of viewers and the context in which they are viewing will have an impact on how they interact with each and every media text in their lives.

This essay may be found on page 108 of the printed volume.

Works Cited
Permanent Link to this Essay