AS & A2 Recommended Media Studies Theorists

Every theorist & theory you will ever need!!


  • John Fiske – genre as ‘convenience’ for producers and audiences – this means commercial success is underpinned by the conventions of genre in terms of what audiences expect.
  • Robert Stam – there are infinite genres. Basically here, Stam is advancing an A2 concept that there is an argument that genre no longer exists and we do not have to analyse text in terms of genre.
  • Jane Feuer – genre is abstract and becoming harder to identify.
  • Henry Jenkins – genre break rules and commonly hybridizes.
  • John Hartley – genre is interpreted culturally e.g. Coronation Street or Eastenders could only be understood in terms of the conventions of UK soap operas, American television dramas tend to have a slightly different set of conventions to British television dramas.
  • Daniel Chandler – genre is too restricting and presents audiences and producers with a creative ‘straightjacket’.
  • Steve Neale – genre as repetition and difference
  • David Buckingham – genre in constant process of negotiation and change
  • Rick Altman – genre offers audiences a ‘set of pleasures’


  • Levi-Strauss: texts are often understood by the ways things are places in binary opposition to each other.
  • Todorov – 4 Act Structure: Equilibrium, Disruption, Resolution, New Equilibrium. Interpretations of Todorov’s theories differ from textbook to textbook.
  • Roland Barthes – 5 narrative codes: Cultural, Semantic, Symbolic, Hermeneutic, Proairetic
  • Goodwin – useful for analysing Music Videos: Thought Beats, Narrative and Performance, The Star Image, Relation of Visuals to the Song and the Technical aspects (composition) of a Music Video.
  • Propp – 8 character roles: only applies to mainstream texts e.g. blockbuster films or Disney films where characters often pertain to stereotype. Sometimes, however you can apply Propp to running news stories by analysing a Hero, Villain, False Hero, Princess (or prize), Her Father, Donor, Despatcher, Helper.
  • Lyotard – post modern A2 theory against Meta narratives, pro micro narratives and fragmentation suggesting that traditional ways of thinking about narrative are flawed.

Representation and Identities and the Media

  • Taijfel and Turner – intergroup discrimination, useful for studying Identities and the Media and the idea of a collective group.
  • Angela McRobbie – post feminist icon theory suggesting female character are determined, strong, independent and in control but also utilize their sexuality e.g. Lara Croft, Lady Gaga…
  • Laura Mulvey – male gaze/female gaze. Although Mulvey herself has rejected the male gaze theory in recent years there are still strong arguments suggesting the female form is still objectified in a range of media. The female subverts the theory suggesting male performers/actors are objectified.
  • Tessa Perkins – stereotyping has elements of truth and are based on repeated representations, both in society and within the media.
  • Andy Medhurst – stereotyping is shorthand for identification.
  • Stuart Hall – oppositional, negotiated and dominant reading of representations.
  • Richard Dyer – stereotype legitimize inequality by marginalizing certain individuals and social groups.
  • Levi-Strauss – binary oppositions and subordinate groups (see Dyer)
  • David Buckingham – we have increasing fragmented identities and can no longer so much be said to be part of a collective identity.
  • David Gauntlett – “identity is complicated, everyone’s got one”. Pluralism but within a hegemonic framework.
  • Carol Clover – last girl theory: useful if analysing representation in horror films but mainly the sub genre of slasher horror.
  • Baudrillard – representations are hyper real, often copies of copies and have lost meaning as a result.
  • Judith Butler – queer theory. Gender is not the result of nature but is socially constructed through media and culture. Queer theory challenges the assumption that there is a binary divide between gay and heterosexual suggesting in mainstream media heterosexuality is represented as normal.
  • Zygmunt Bauman – identity as a reflection of society is problematic, there are too many variables.
  • Erving Goffman – studying the nature of social interaction e.g. notions of ‘performance’ reflecting a certain identity. Although ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’ is a historical text it is still relevant when looking at the whole idea of identity and can be mapped onto contemporary media.
  • Anthony Giddens – self-reflexivity and developing own biographical narratives. Useful for looking at Facebook and studying how identity is represented in digital social media.
  • Pierre Bourdieu – social class is constructed by cultural taste (and in turn by education)


  • Jeremy Tunstall – audiences can be identified as Primary, Secondary or Tertiary but also the site or conditions of reception e.g. consuming media as a collective group of individually.
  • Blumler and Katz – Uses and Gratifications theory, useful for studying the range of different pleasures active audience gain from media texts i.e. Diversion (escapism), Personal Relationships (talking about or sharing media with others e.g. on social networks), Personal Identity (with media performers) and Surveillance (information on the world).
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – 5 levels of a pyramid. From Psychology can be mapped onto other media: Physical Needs, Safety Needs, Communal Needs, Esteem Needs, Self-Actualization.
  • Katz and Larzasfeld – Two Step Flow: opinion leaders take on a belief and ideology and develop or discuss its content.
  • Adorno – Passive consumption/Hypodermic model (Frankfurt School): old fashioned but still relevant – vulnerable audiences will always be passively affected by media texts.
  • David Gauntlett – Producer as Consumer (Prosumer): thanks to digital media, many consumers of media as also producers e.g. YouTube as cultural phenomenon.
  • Stanley Cohen/Martin Barker – Moral Panics in the media e.g. aggressive Daily Mail headlines often with the intention of marginalizing a social group.
  • Stuart Hall – audience positioning and dominant/negotiated/oppositional readings. Audiences can be positioned into a shared dominant reading in a number of ways e.g. by technical composition and mise-en-scene.

Institutional Theory Including New Technologies

  • David Gauntlett – opposes media censorship and the vulnerability stereotype – sees youth as active and literate compared to vulnerable and needing protection.
  • Henry Jenkins – video game effects research suggests instead of audiences being passive they are active and engaged in multiple communications.
  • Richard Berger – Ofcom will subsume the BBFC and become one, large regulatory body.
  • David Gauntlett – the prosumer creates a world of independent media producers.
  • Andrew Keen – the prosumer creates a world of ‘amateurs’.
  • Daniel Chandler – online genre proliferation: new media has increasingly led to the questioning of the boundaries and conventions of genre as traditionally studied.
  • Michael Wesch – YouTube as cultural phenomenon: here the value of YouTube is being acknowledged with the availability and access to resources it provides being taken for granted despite it origination in recent history, 2006.
  • Charlie Brooker – blurred boundaries, representation of ‘the real’. Brooker is suggesting that many texts and their availability on a number of interactive platforms has made people question what is real as what is not.
  • Dan Gillmor – makes key points about the relationship between technology and ‘We Media’
  • Stuart Price – critical of global media and ownership
  • Noam Chomsky – Marxist readings on media ownership
  • Nick Lacey – on synergy, ownership and institution referencing the concepts of synergy and convergence as crucial to modern media.

4 thoughts on “AS & A2 Recommended Media Studies Theorists

  1. Just wanted to extend my thanks for this comprehensive list. I teach a wealth of theory but don’t know some of these so it is excellent to extend my own knowledge as well as my students.

    Theresa Manuel
    Bennett Memorial

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