Media Theory Revision Guide

"...essential for all media students"

All A level theorists covered alongside revision summaries and exam practise exercises.





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Daily Mirror

Cultural codes


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The Mirror front cover also uses referential or cultural codes in order to construct meaning: the use of the Statue of Liberty requires readers to hold a certain degree of information regarding the symbolism of this iconic American monument. 

The Statue of Liberty represents freedom, liberal democracy, political tolerance and the open immigration policy that has historically been practised by the United States. The presentation of this symbol is subverted through its ashamed pose, the gesture codes of which convey to the reader the dangers that Trump presents to long-standing libertarian American values.

Cultural codes

One of 'Barthe's Five Code Symphony' elements. Cultural codes (also known as referential codes) describe moments that refer to knowledge from outside of a product. This can include scientific or religious knowledge.

Media terminology used

Gesture codes

Gestures codes refer to a highly stylised set of body actions that relate specific coded meanings to a reader. A thumbs up gesture for instance means 'I'm okay' - holding our hands in the air suggests submission.

Subversive representation

A media representation that challenges or undermines an idea or set of ideas that are widely held within society. van Zoonen called upon women to create subversive representation of femininity to undermine patriarchal ideologies.

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Media Theory for A Level
The Essential Revision Guide