Essay Sample on Popular Culture: Hall Stuart's Definitions of the Word

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1552 Words
Date:  2023-04-04


According to Hall Stuart, it is clear that the way we live today might be different from the way people in the past believed, dressed, and conducted themselves (Duncombe185) Stuart, however, argues that what is most important is what people do with their culture. The word 'popular' is strongly connected with a cultural perspective. Stuart provides three definitions of the word popular as utilized in the cultural context. The term 'popular' would mean what many people believe and accept. It also means easy to live with or adopt. Stuart's explanation and definition of culture are unique and acceptable in any setting. Different generations usually have different choices and preferences concerning their way of life. Culture has to change to adapt to these dynamics. Media is closely connected to these cultural dynamics because it creates a platform that links people from all cultural backgrounds across the globe. It enables borrowing and sharing of cultural aspects, leading to the omission of specific cultural traits and adopting new ways of life. Without media, culture would either remain static or change at a plodding pace across the generations. However, with media in place, culture would remain dynamic forever. Therefore, learning is dynamic and varies from one age to the next, with media playing critical roles in these changes. The paper relies on Stuart Hall's theory of encoding and decoding and his concerns with media in explaining why culture would remain dynamic forever and why media is centered on these dynamics in promoting cultural integration,

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Culture is never static but dynamic. It changes all the time in subtle and tangible ways. However, the fact that people communicate and express their cultural systems in a variety of techniques means that it may not be possible to pinpoint the exact cultural dynamics at play. People usually pay most of their attention to what is said, tone, and the vision behind the words. However, culture would be dynamic only if it is relevant. The first definition of culture by Stuart states that for something to be popular, it has to be appropriate and acceptable to the majority of the people (Duncombe186). Therefore, what the cultural traits that are transferred from older to the younger generation are those that are relevant and acceptable to the mass. Cultural aspects are either modified to fit the new generation or left out altogether. A particular culture will stop being relevant if the younger generation thinks that the customs are of the old school. For the culture to be appropriate, it, therefore, has to adapt and change with times and generations. This way, the new generation would adopt and absorb the culture and make it suit their tastes. Otherwise, it would cease to be relevant and eventually become obsolete. Popular culture, as Stuart explains, should be the one that people can quickly adapt and live with it.

Stuart's Argument on Cultural Conflicts

According to Hall Stuart, culture changes continuously forever. The cultural norms that we accept today might be rejected in the future. The argument by Stuart is correct because the culture has to adapt to the situations in which people are. People themselves are never static but dynamic. They usually travel widely, intermingle with other cultures, and import and export commodities. Even during the past years, people migrated to different places, met people from different races and colors, and borrowed cultural aspects from each other. The language, mode of dressing, food, region, among other elements, have been changing all through.

According to Sturt Mill, things are said to be popular if masses of people listen to them, buy them, consume them, and seem to enjoy them(Duncombe185). Stuart dismisses this argument and asserts that no single culture can claim to be famous in any sense. The working class, therefore, have no moral obligation to impose their culture on other people or assume their culture is popular than that of others. People are knowledgeable and can easily recognize the realities convening what is good or bad for them. Stuart's main struggle is to avoid what few elites and working-class define as the prevalent and dominant culture and try to impose it on people. They tend to assume their culture is most preferred and impose it on people. Stuart also argues that people's culture can remain exclusive. There is no need to accept other people's perceptions through influence just because they are working class. Stuart also points out that there is a real cultural struggle involving dominant culture being disorganized ad reorganized to confuse it so that it can fit the definitions with a more inclusive range of dominant forms. It also experiences forms of resistance and suppression. The continuous resistance and acceptance, refusal, and capitulation make the cultural field like a form of the battlefield, with positions to be won or lost. Therefore, popular culture definition is surrounded by many contradictions as there are popular forces versus power block.

Encoding/Decoding Model and Its Relation to Cultural Conflicts

Stuart Mill explains the model of encoding and decoding to indicate how media is used to enhance cultural dominations and friction between various cultures. The model shows how misunderstanding and confusions exist mainly in signs used in television, which are either understood or target the perceived popular culture. The coding/decoding model by Stuart suggests a four-stage theory of communication: production, circulation, use, and reproduction. According to him, each stage is relatively autonomous' from the others. The resistance fits into this model because the codes and the information/message might be dominated or perceived to be dominated by a particular class. The appearance of the signs may cheat or confuse the television viewers. There is usually a lot of misunderstanding about these signs. Also, the media, for example, television, tend to target or brings the perception of cultural dominance in the way they encode/decode messages. The information presented certain target cultures that are assumed to be more popular than others. Other cultures might not understand such words and signs. Therefore, the struggle exists here because one has to force themselves to learn and accept a given culture to understand the message presented across the media. Other than television sets, social media are mainly coded in dominant languages like English. It means users have to accept, learn, and use the language if they want to enjoy and get information from the media. Such situations bring about conflicts because one culture (language) is perceived to be dominant and widespread over the other, which, according to Stuart, is wrong.

The media connects with Stuart's arguments concerning the forceful domination of culture by the working class. The media channels like television sets and social media promote some cultures than others. The presentations, signs, interpretations, language used, and coding structures are embedded towards some cultures than others. They tend to promote the dominant and perceived popular lifestyles in their advertisements, show films, and promotions. Stuart's argument that no culture is popular than another is criticized here because one can see clearly that media promotes and encourages understanding of the perceived popular culture.

The reality here should be that any culture is as important as the other. Culture is also dynamic

The Need to Adopt Embrace Each Other's Culture

Culture refers to the way of life of people, from dressing codes, eating, entertainment, and religion. Culture is subject to change over time because we copy and adopt some sections of other people's lifestyles. This way, as Stuart states, no culture is popular or better than the other. Each culture should learn and adopt aspects of another culture so that they can enjoy the rich cultural diversity across the world. The conflict that exists between the culture of the working class and unemployed people should not create any disputes. Any person should be ready to adopt the aspects of the other culture and leave unnecessary facets of his/her learning. Living a happy life entails selecting what is best and leaving behind what is superfluous. Therefore, people adopted other people's cultures irrespective of the class or power.

Media has played a critical role in enhancing cultural diversity through promoting aspects of a different culture, improving communication with various people across the world, and promoting free interactions either online and offline. Therefore, media should be utilized not to create cultural conflicts but enhance cultural integration. I should develop signs, codes, and programs that are friendly to every culture and always elaborate on the importance of adopting and embracing different cultures.


Culture is dynamic and not static at all. Therefore, people should be free to retain cultural aspects that favor them and leave out those aspects that work against them. The media should play the role of cultural integration as people adopts many elements from various cultural backgrounds. According to Stuart, no culture is accessible over the other. However, the working-class try to dominate the other people by imposing their culture on them. Also, the media is captured by the perceived dominant culture to disadvantage different cultures. But the fact that no culture is better than other means people shoals enjoy cultural integration and adopt functional aspects from different cultures so that they can live a meaningful life. Social media should not disadvantage but promote all lifestyles.

Work Cited

Duncombe, Stephen, ed. Cultural resistance reader. Verso, February 14, 2020.

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Essay Sample on Popular Culture: Hall Stuart's Definitions of the Word. (2023, Apr 04). Retrieved from

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