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The task for the essay is as follows:

Choose a particular media and cultural form or practice. Explain how you might locate your chosen example within a circuit of culture, and identify the sort of issues you might raise at each point on the circuit, drawing on your knowledge of the questions, problems and approaches explored on the module during the year.

Word limit: 2000 words.

For this assignment, you should focus on a specific media/cultural form or practice (film, television series, advert, music video, blogs/vlogs etc.) and pass it through the ‘circuit of culture’ (du Gay et al. 1997). You need to provide a detailed and theoretically informed analysis of your example that highlights and examines various points of the circuit (representation; regulation; identity; consumption; production).

As du Gay et al. suggest, a ‘circuit of culture [provides a venue] through which any analysis of a cultural text or artifact must pass if it is to be adequately studied’ (du Gay et al. 1997: 3). Du Gay explains that a cultural artifact is something for which ‘we have constructed … a little world of meaning; and this bringing of the object into meaning is what constitutes is as a cultural artifact’ (du Gay et al. 1997: 10).

In other words, the circuit of culture diagram allows us to examine the interactions of culture in order to study culture as a ‘whole way of life’ (du Gay et al. 1997: 13).

Remember, these 5 moments are different but interlinked:


The moment of regulation comprises controls on cultural activity, ranging from formal and legal controls, such as regulations, laws, and institutionalized systems, to the informal and local controls of cultural norms and expectations. It’s in the moment of regulation that meanings arise governing what’s acceptable, what’s correct.


The moment of production outlines the process by which creators of cultural products imbue them with meaning, a process often called encoding (Hall 1993).


Representation is the form an object takes and the meanings encoded in that form. Remember that meaning isn’t inherent in the object itself but is socially constructed. Producers encode meaning into a cultural artifact, often with a specific target audience in mind. They hope to convey a certain meaning through all aspects of how they present the artifact. The content, the format, and even the method of distribution communicate an intended meaning.


Consumption happens when messages are decoded by audiences. Consumers bring their own semantic networks of meaning to any communicative exchange. They are active creators of meaning, putting issues and products to use in their everyday lives in their own ways.


Once meaning is constructed, a product can be used to construct individual/group identity. Identity is often created through the assertion of sameness and difference. Also, it is reproduced through systems of representation.

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