1. (hegemonic code) The standard textual conventions framing texts within a particular genre and/or the defining assumptions of a prevailing ideology framing a particular text (see dominant ideology). A concept associated with Stuart Hall's notion of the hegemonic reading of mass media texts. See also ideological codes; compare negotiated reading; oppositional reading.
2. A synonym for Williams's concept of a dominant form. Adopted as a concept in marketing trend-spotting referring to the prevailing values, styles, and fashions of the present day, which are particularly hard to identify as codes because their familiarity often renders them transparent: see also emergent code; residual code.