Representation And Identity

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Question: Stuart Hall argues that culture is a system of representation and a way we make sense of and give meaning to the world. Explain these ideas and use the concept of representation to answer the following question: what happens to our identity when we are represented and labelled in ways that we do not recognise ourselves? ****** Representation “is one of the central practices which produce culture and a ‘key’ moment in what has been called the ‘circuit of culture’ (du Gay, Hall et al., 1997). The circuit of culture is a framework that suggests that when studying culture, its representation, identity, production, consumption and regulation should be observed. These factors all interrelate to create shared meanings. A common bond that ties these factors together is language. Representation through language is central to the processes by which meaning is produced and interpreted. Hall (ed 1997) proposes that “representation means using language to say something meaningful about, or to represent, the world meaningfully, to other people”. However, it is possible that meaning can shift as we move from one culture or language to another. An example of this theory is evidenced in a campaign launched by Tourism Australia in 2006. The television advertisement (YouTube) features Australians preparing for visitors. It begins with a consumer in a remote outback pub standing at a bar and says, “We’ve bought you a beer”. The camera zooms up to the front steps of a homestead. A jackeroo tells us, “And Bill’s on his way down to open the front gate”. Bill of course is driving a Ute down a long red dusty road. A yellow sea plane lands in the Great Barrier Reef. A snorkeller swims towards the plane as the pilot sits on the float to tell us, “Your taxi’s waiting”. It’s now night time in front of Uluru, A waiter tells us, “And dinner’s about to be served”.

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