AS/A2 Media Theory - Revision


A2 Media Studies - Theory (Revision):


  • Steve Neale - “Genres are instances of repetition and difference.”

  • David Buckingham - “Genre is a constant process of negotiation and change.”

  • Daniel Chandler - Conventional definitions of Genre are based on the idea that they share particular codes and conventions of content.”

  • John Fiske - “Genre attempts to structure some order into the wide range of texts and meanings that circulate in our culture for the convenience of both producers and audiences.”

  • Jane Feuer – “Genre is abstract and becoming harder to identify.

  • Henry Jenkins – “Genre break rules and commonly hybridizes.”

  • John Hartley – “Genre is interpreted culturally.”

  • Rick Altman – “Genre offers audiences a ‘set of pleasures’”.

Narrative Theory:

Todorov - Equilibrium Theory:

All narratives follow a 5 stage structure.

1. Equilibrium (A state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced).

2. Disruption of Equilibrium.

3. Recognition of this Disruption.

4. An attempt to repair the Equilibrium is made.

5. Equilibrium is restored OR a new Equilibrium is established.

Propp - 8 Character Types:

All narratives have 8 different character types that are present within the narrative.

  • Hero: Their quest is to restore the equilibrium.  

  • Villain: Their task is to disrupt the equilibrium.  

  • Donor: They give the hero something, advice, information or an object.

  • Helper: They aid the hero with their set task.  

  • Princess (or Prince): They need help, protecting and saving.  

  • The King: They reward the hero.  

  • Dispatcher: They send the hero on their quest.  

  • False Hero: They set out to undermine the hero's quest by pretending to aid them. Often unmasked at the end of the film.

Levi-Strauss - Binary Oppositions:

A pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning. Levi-Strauss argued that meaning in narrative is based upon binary oppositions. He observed that all narratives are organised around the conflict between such binary opposites.

  • Good VS Evil.

  • Black VS White.

  • Humanity VS Technology.

  • Man VV Woman.

  • Human VS Alien.

Roland Barthes - 5 Narrative Codes:

  • Enigma Code - Refers to any element of the media text that is not fully explained and hence becomes a mystery to the audience. The purpose of the author in this is typically to keep the audience guessing, arresting the enigma, until the final scenes when all is revealed and all loose ends are tied off and closure is achieved.

  • Action Code - Applies to any action that implies a further narrative action.

  • Semantic Code - Any element in a text that suggests a particular, often additional meaning by way of connotation.

  • Cultural Code - Any element in a narrative that refers to our shared knowledge about the way the world works e.g how the human body works.

  • Symbolic Code – Organizing semantic meanings into broader and deeper sets of meaning. This is typically done in the use of antithesis, where new meaning arises out of opposing and conflict ideas.


  • Gender:

Laura Mulvey - The Male Gaze:

The media represents


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