Posted at 11.18.2018
Explain Stuart Hall's argument in his lecture: Contest - The floating signifier. Discuss the critical implications of Hall's help the rethinking of a psychology of human differences.
Stuart Hall first performed his lecture 'Race, Ethnicity and Land' in 1994 at Harvard University; it was then presented again in 1996 where it was filmed as a training video called 'Competition, the floating signifier', (Hiles, 2006). The word 'floating signifier' is often related to principles like competition and gender; it shows the actual word is rather concrete however the concept it explains is less stable and it is not set, (http://uk. ask. com/wiki/Floating_signifier). This essay will first format Hall's argument of explaining human being variations and then consider the critical implications his work has on the rethinking of the psychology of individual distinctions. Finally the example of disability will be utilized as a demonstration to support Hall's ideas.
Psychological research and theory into individuals differences has principally centered on the measurement of these differences. For example measuring human distinctions in terms of personality or cleverness, (Hiles, 2006). Criticisms have been put forward suggesting that psychology when looking at human being variations is a pseudoscience that just endeavors to group people into categories, (Hiles, 2006). There are problems when only taking into consideration the measurement of individual human differences and that is that this ignores the meaning of these variations. Hall (1997, as cited in Hiles, 2006) suggested that it is not how human differences are measured that is important its how these variations give interpretation and condition the sociable world. He assumed human variations should be contacted from a discursive perspective, to observe how the meanings of individuals dissimilarities have been designed.
Hall (1997, as cited in Hiles, 2006) suggested that there are many physical variances; this the truth is not being disregarded but these distinctions need to be organized within vocabulary to attain and therefore can be utilized with contemporary society. He used the word 'discursive' to show a move from more clinical ways of looking at human differences in terms of dimension to instead a concern of how understanding of human differences that already is present within world organizes and regulates human being behaviour which in turn reinforces these individuals variations, (Hiles, 2006). Therefore, Hall demonstrates that the meanings of individuals distinctions are socially constructed and this is the essential aspect rather than the obvious actuality of biological differences that may be measured.
Hall (1997) in his lecture centered on race; however his model can be applied to all human differences. Race is merely one example of the many concepts that categorizes variations in the human being world; other classificatory systems include age group, gender and ability. Hall, (1997, as cited in Hiles, 2006) cases that competition and all the classificatory systems are discursive; which means that it is impossible to establish these concepts medically and it is unfeasible to permanently measure these variations as meanings and beliefs relating to these classifications constantly change anticipated to changes inflicted by culture. He suggested that what these differences mean, the way they are used in culture is what's important, not how these dissimilarities can be measured. Hall also suggested that meanings can be manipulated, they aren't fixed; they 'float, slip and slip', (Hiles, 2006). He placed less emphasis on the natural theory of racial differences (the physical, observable dissimilarities) advocating instead that this is of racial distinctions which is socially designed within culture is the essential aspect. Hall, (1997, as cited in Hiles, 2006) recommended competition is a discursive build that works just like a language. Variances between people are not based on the biological variations between people but instead the interpersonal constructions and the meanings people relate with these. Obviously, the physical dissimilarities that are between people are still acknowledged however the give attention to the meanings of these physical variations is of main importance. Hall (1997) confirmed how first religious beliefs and now research is employed as an interpretation of racial dissimilarities. His discussion is a criticism against the utilization of knowledge in its recognition of how racial differences should be interpreted and what they signify. Meanings can't be fixed permanently which means racial differences cannot be interpreted as truth based strictly on technology and genetics. The psychology of looking at human differences needs to consider the constructions of this is of these dissimilarities enforced by people within society which is the centre of everything. For instance how certain people are treated depending on particular real human difference classifications.
Hiles (2006) advised from Halls' work that mindset, when measuring real human variances, ignores the meanings given too these measurements and then assumes the meanings that are located from the results of these measurements to be set. In conditions of the implications for psychology, Hall's theory takes a radical constructionist perspective rather than the choice realist ideas. The radical constructionist way focuses on the belief that it is not the distinctions themselves that is important, it's the meanings given to human differences. Hiles (2006) submit the theory that to totally understand human differences a new perspective is needed that implements more of a discursive way of theorizing. This method instead of calculating considers the ways in which human variations become socially created in language and how these constructions then affect human action within the social world. Halls argument centres around the theory that human differences cannot be measured to provide a valid representation of these differences. Measurement tries to fix this is of differences, but human distinctions is not at all something that can be fixed; they can be changeable and in a position to manipulated. Hall (1997, as cited in Hiles, 2006) suggests research needs to focus on the discourses of difference to give a much better understanding.
Race is a signifier of human being difference; however the meaning of any signifier changes depending on culture, history, events, situational context and reviews, (Hiles, 2006). A signifier cannot be fixed this is changes depending on these factors. For example the meaning of pores and skin colour has altered throughout history; this is the reason why Hall called race a 'floating signifier'. Hall (1997) proposes a signifier is more just like how terms works, it is socially built, rather than how people are biologically constituted; to say go through the human being difference of competition in conditions of genetics means which it must be fixed, it is an unchanging truth. However, the individual difference of contest is not fixed the meaning of computer constantly changes.
Hall (1997) discusses three positions available when looking at the individuals difference of competition. The foremost is the realist; this proposed there are hereditary differences that will be the source for racial classification. The second is the linguistic position; this suggests there are no real differences between races; all dissimilarities are created by humans in culture and words. The final position used by Hall is the discursive position; this proposed that there are many variances, when these differences are arranged within language they then gain meaning and become a feature in individual culture. This position targets the theory that differences exist on the globe, but what counts are the ways that people make sense of these dissimilarities and how this gives them indicating within culture, (www. msu. edu/course/atl/125/fernandez/hall. html).
Hall (1997, as cited in Hiles (2006) demonstrated that human dissimilarities and classifications where historically first linked to religion (a spiritual discourse), then anthropology and most recently research (a technological discourse). Hall (1997) shows that these 'knowledge's' of human being difference do not act as fact or fact but they are a way to make people feel better, to learn where they fit into the cultural system in culture. Classification ensures order within world; faith, anthropology and science all try to fix and secure individual differences and guarantee a truth. It can be suggested that race needs to be considered more as a discursive (a cultural building of difference) as efforts to repair the classification of race and other individual differences have been unsuccessful in conditions of clinical methods, (Hiles, 2006). Hall's approach to taking a look at difference accepts that individuals difference classifications cannot be explained by dimension they cannot be set; meanings are changeable; therefore classifications are floating signifiers, (www. msu. edu/course/atl/125/fernandez/hall. html).
Hall (1997, retrieved from www. msu. edu/course/atl/125/fernandez/hall. html) offered the example that the physical attributes of contest for example locks shade and bone framework indicate race on earth as a noticeable difference; the genetic code attempts to then fix this difference. He advised that the things people can easily see are signifiers for things that can not be such as intellect, personality and morality. This therefore implies that the physical surface features of human distinctions are taken up to be the primary factor; however, people then read these variations to signify dissimilarities in different ways that cant be observed that are socially built through words, (Hiles, 2006). These differences can transform as they symbolize different meanings depending on other factors. Hall (1997, as cited in Hiles, 2006) suggested culture is employed to give so this means so people can make sense of and coordinate the earth and human difference. Indicating can be modified because it can't ever be fixed as it is socially constructed it is not fact. Because so this means is available it allows change to be possible and shows why meanings of culture and human being differences change; it makes a discursive words possible.
Hall used the example of contest as a signifier to demonstrate how human distinctions are socially built. This essay will now go through the signifier of disability as a further demonstration of how the meanings of human differences are made through words. The social style of impairment has been very effective when initiating changes in behaviour towards disability which has in turn created changes in culture through new legislations and methods, (Hiles, 2007). The communal model is within direct contrast to the medical model of disability which is the more traditionally held procedure. The medical model theorises that disabled individuals are described by their impairment; facilities and treatments are therefore created to aid them within culture which causes those to be segregated and seen as dissimilar to others locally who are definitely more able bodied, (Eisley, 2001). The interpersonal model (the way accepted by Hall) on the other palm theorises that disabled individuals are handicapped by modern culture. Hiles (2007) demonstrates that it is not the impairment that causes the difference it's the underlying insufficient understanding and failure of culture to effectively fulfil the needs of handicapped people that causes those to be separated. This model therefore proposes that modern culture is to be blamed for the obstacles, stereotypes and prejudices disabled people obtain as meanings are socially constructed to see disabled people in a certain way whereas the needs of that disabled individual is seen as a secondary importance. Traditional techniques (i. e. the medical model) targets the magnitude of the impairment, it steps it which explains why there are problems in world in terms of stereotypes and creating obstacles. A more discursive strategy (i. e. the cultural model) instead considers the meanings of these human differences which is often argued to be a more positive way when assisting disabled individuals within culture, (Hiles, 2007). This therefore implies that Halls ideas have positive implications for the rethinking of a psychology of human differences.
Hedlund (2000) looked at the conceptualization of disability through the discourses of the medical and communal models. He considers impairment to be a 'societal occurrence' rather than signifying the individual experience of being disabled. Impairment is a discourse created by world which provides a kind of reality for the way in which culture to understand it. The social model doesn't disregard the reality of the individual experience of being handicapped or of the impairment itself but instead targets the communication within modern culture that backs this up disability and results barriers and discrimination. Communication within world on the topic of impairment creates a way for others to comprehend, perceive and respond to disability; the wrong type or negative communication can be the cause of disabling that each within contemporary society. Hedlund (2009) concluded and suggested that the medical and sociable perspectives of the conception of impairment are competitive in their theories one is not really a more modern strategy of the other.
The medical style of disability recognizes the disabled specific being the problem. For example if an individual in a wheelchair has difficulty getting on a bus credited to there being steps; the medical model proposes this is the fault of the wheelchair not the facilities of the bus. The cultural model of impairment on the other palm considers the steps to be the hurdle as this process centres on the theory that it's culture that disables individuals by not interacting with peoples different needs to function in that culture. The public model is a much more positive approach to looking at human being difference as it considers what world can do to changing the meaning of being 'impaired' to meet the needs of others you need to include them in population as equals to those more able bodied, (http://www2. le. ac. uk/offices/ssds/accessability/staff/supporting-students-with-disabilities/social-model-of-disability). The public model of impairment believes the challenge of impairment can be resolved by the 'restructuring of society', (Eisley, 2001). The medical model is designed to develop treatments which focus on individuals and their impairment; whereas the cultural model centres attention on changing the views of others and the meanings they put on disabled individuals to create a more equal population.
Scullion (2010) conducted research taking a look at the public and medical approaches of disability in the role of nurses. Results recommended that the sociable model of impairment is effective to avoid discrimination and promote similar opportunities. The cultural model targets the barriers impaired individuals face which is imposed by modern culture, nurses taking into consideration this approach somewhat than simply the medical model in a hospital environment may have positive implications for changes in achieving the needs of handicapped individuals and reducing discrimination.
McDonald (2009) conducted research analysing parents with dyslexia and exactly how this disability damaged their education and occupations. The medical model talks about dyslexia as a learning dysfunction that is directly related to the average person; this research considers the public model of impairment in causing barriers that are outside of that individual. It was found social school and discrimination was principal factors in affecting individuals' job and educational opportunities; this demonstrates that dyslexia is a societal issue based mostly around inequality not something that is clearly a specific individual's problem. Oliver and Barnes (1991, as cited in McDonald, 2009) developed the interpersonal model of disability as a conclusion of how disability is not established around a natural impairment it is something ( a discrimination) that is socially produced that creates obstacles and restricts equality in life opportunities. The study also revealed that disabling barriers tend to be related to social class; those impaired individuals in a middle income environment have significantly more equivalent life opportunities for education and employment compared to those from a working class track record. This again is an exemplory case of how it is contemporary society that disables people not the actual disability that is the problem.
Meanings aren't fixed in a specific way they may be 'floating signifiers'. Hall will however show that meanings can become provisionally set when that meaning becomes dominating in culture, (Hiles, 2007). Whereas ideology attempts to entirely fix meanings of individuals dissimilarities this discursive fixation is temporary for that moment in time, this is can be transformed as soon as the circumstances or situation changes for example. The social model of impairment is no attempt to understand impairment; it aims to identify the meanings of impairment in the communal world. Hiles (2007) suggests the model focuses on unfixing the meanings of disability which are assigned by contemporary society; it is more often regarded as a critical model of disability and individuals difference rather than a genuine theory. The public model focuses on the meaning of disability and how this so this means is made through language. If the idea of social engineering and meaning is considered within all signifiers of human being difference this would have significant implications in conditions of actually looking at the changes of meaning across different contexts rather than trying to fix and measure individual differences. This can be argued to be a more valid representation of looking at human variations as it not only take into account the social building of the meaning of human distinctions through terms it focuses on this as the key contributing factor whereas traditional measurements of human differences try to ignore the communal constructive nature they themselves have when measuring.
The social style of disability aspires to unfix meanings and encourage visitors to think differently. This is demonstrated in Hiles (2007) exemplory case of a poster used of an image with a disabled man with what 'I see you, I see you as a friend, I see you as a co-worker. . . but will you see me? how do you see me? Does one see me as different?' This example is effective at first displaying the sociable constructions given to handicapped individuals and then demonstrating that the real differences aren't important it is the meaning directed at these differences this is the primary feature and they are socially produced; the individuals difference of impairment is therefore not centred on the medical model of being impaired.
Landsman (2005) viewed the views of the moms of handicapped children in relation to the medical and public models of disability. Results proved that generally mothers used a combo of both strategies. The medical model was used while looking for help and opportunities but the social model to describe meanings and the knowledge of being disabled within society. It was found when moms where asked about this biggest fears because of their children they time after time responded they were worried the way the child would be cared for by others in population not concerns about the disability itself. This demonstrates the social style of impairment has bigger implications in conditions of exhibiting that culture is the situation that disables the average person not the disability itself.
In bottom line, the ideas of Stuart Hall suggest the meanings of individuals differences are what are important not how these differences can be measured. Meanings of individuals differences are built through discourse and can be briefly fixed when they are the dominant feature in society at that time; however they can't be permanently fixed they can be floating signifiers that can be manipulated and change depending on history, context, incidents etc. The interpersonal model of impairment is an exemplory case of a how disability is a signifier of individuals differences and that meanings can be repairing and unfixing as all individuals differences are definitely the result of communal constructions imposed by world. This view of taking a look at human differences has implications for the rethinking of mindset as it moves away from traditional ideas of calculating the actual reality of human differences and instead focuses on the meanings culture and society pertains to these differences to make the world what it is.