encoding and decoding

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1. In psychology, encoding is the ability to convert information into a different but retrievable form, usually in the memory; it is unsurprisingly critical to game plans or performance strategies.

2. In cultural and media studies, encoding is the way in which texts are put together, and decoding the way in which these can be disassembled for their meaning; the approach has been widely used in analyses of sport media and the juxtaposition of the visual and the printed word in those media. Stuart Hall's ‘Encoding and Decoding in Television Discourse’ (University of Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Stencilled Paper no. 7, 1973) was highly influential in developing a cultural analysis of media forms that was not based in the concept of the circulation circuit or the loop. Hall argued that moments of encoding and decoding are ‘determinate moments’ (original italics), so that raw historical events are not simply transmitted by the television newscast: ‘Events can only be signified within the aural-visual forms of the televisual discourse’. As Hall puts it, an event must become a ‘story’ before it becomes a communicative event. This emphasis on the structuring of the media form highlighted the role of the media in constructing sport discourse and narratives, not merely relaying the action from the site of the live action to the viewer. See also deconstruction.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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