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Modes of Address

Modes of Address
Definition: Ways parts of a text or utterances are

formed which decide the relationship between the

sender / creator of texts (Addresser) and receiver
/reader of texts texts (Addressee)
refers to 'how media texts 'speak to' an audience

media texts always address somebody

they seek to engage their audiences in the

practice of reading or viewing

devices used may be direct or indirect,

obvious and subtle

Through language: words used to

decide on the relationship

Let us now look at more detail what we meant
by social action is semiotic and that all
semiotic action is social
Now look at more detail what is meant by
social action is semiotic

Through visual: visual element used to determine the kind of


Signs and modes of address

Pierce (1931):

A sign addresses somebody.

Sign addresses us in a particular code

Genre semiotic code in which readers are

considered as ideal readers through the use of
modes of address
Ideal to read text in the way it is created
specifically (for certain readers)

audience identity is written into texts in a

number of ways

variations in tone, pace, language etc.

reflect the p
producers notions of who the

audience is
modes of address will vary depending on the

media form and the perceived audience

the more specialised the target audience, the

more distinctive the mode of address

Categorised texts based on conventions of

forms and content which are shared by texts of

a particular genre
on formal
l ffeatures
i ttexts
t off the
th same

genre which share codes and use particular

modes of address
Eg of genre: formal letters, horror movies,
scientific reports, musical theater

Formal features?

Modes of address
Influence by three interrelated factors:
Contexts of texts; eg conventions of genre
Social context; eg social composition of
Technological constraints; media features used
eg synchronous interpersonal communication
- internet chat system (text only)
- telephone (utterances only)

Modes of address
Differ in
their directness,
their formality and
their narrative point-of-view

third-person narration

omniscient narrator
selective point-of-view of character(s)
first-person narration: narrated directly by a

Directness (Tolson, 1996)
you addressed directly
involves power
Direct mode of adddress
weather forecasters

Gaze (Kress & van leeuwen)

The spectator's gaze: spectator viewing the text
The Intra-diegetic gaze: in a text, a character gazes upon an object or

another character in the text.

The Extra-diegetic gaze: a textual character consciously addresses (looks

at) the viewer, e.g. in dramaturgy, an aside to the audience; in cinema,

acknowledgement of the fourth wall, the viewer.
The camera's gaze: is the film director's gaze.
The editorial gaze: emphasizes a textual aspect, e.g. a photograph, its

cropping and caption direct the reader(s) to a specific person, place, or

object in the text.
the indirect gaze: the spectator initiates viewing the subject, who is

unaware of being viewed




Formality/Social distance
(Kress dan van Leeuwen, 1996)

Public or impersonal

Formality/Social distance
intimate : not explicit, dependent upon nonverbal
personal: some explicitness, slightly less
dependent upon non
social: more explicit, partly dependent upon nonverbal
public/impersonal: very explicit, not dependent
upon non-verbal

Formality/social distance

intimate: face /head

-- personal: shoulder and head
-- social: waist and above
-- public/impersonal: whole figure

Shot size

Directness and formality


Typical modes of address Film

Impersonal; audience rarely acknowledged.
Spectator placed in privileged position of often

knowing more than the characters.

Audience addressed indirectly through narrative

Plots usually resolved
Little sense of author/producer outside credits.
Audience invited in to experience another world.

personal, direct address to viewer who is

works to attract our attention because viewing

can be casual
texts such as News, soaps, sitcoms refuse

resolution (are continuous).

Viewers assumed to be members of a family.
As a national audience
More specialist audiences also addressed

most personal/intimate,
regional/local - variations in accent , tone and

distinctive audiences
attempts to construct dialogue with audience

(phone ins).
Access (your station).
Use of jingles to establish stations sense of

direct address through text and images,
front page important in establishing identity.
can appeal to different aspects of personality
visual appeal important.

Broadsheets - impersonal , formal , detached.

Subdued tone, non participatory and less

Tabloids - loud ,personal,
more direct , use of
participatory gestures


Textual codes and modes of

Textual codes construct possible reading

positions for the addresser and addressee

'the functions of address' - in terms of the

construction of such subjects

and of
relationships between them
expressive function: the construction of an addresser
(authorial persona);
conative function: the construction of an addressee
(ideal reader);
phatic function: the construction of a relationship
between these two
(Thwaites et al. 1994, 14-15)

Codes (Fiske)
Narrowcast - limited audience
Broadcast - shared by members of a mass

Bernstein calls

narrowcast codes as elaborated codes

broadcast codes as restricted codes

Interpellation (Althusser)
Althusser gave prominence to the notion of the

subject - human subject is 'constituted' (constructed)

by pre-given structures
a specific mode of address aimed at positioning
receivers so that they accept their place in a
media texts position receivers to accept the position
being offered, rendering subjects vulnerable to
dominant ideologies
understanding the meaning of a text involves taking
on an appropriate ideological identity
explain the political function of mass media texts


Interpellation - Althusser
Ideology 'acts' or 'functions' in such a way that it 'recruits'
subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all) or
'transforms' the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all)
by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation
or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the
police ((or other)) hailing:
g 'Hey,
y, yyou there!'
most commonplace
Assuming that the theoretical scene I have imagined takes place
in the street, the hailed individual will turn round. By this mere
one-hundred-and-eighty-degree physical conversion, he
becomes a subject. Why? Because he has recognized that the
hail was 'really' addressed to him, and that 'it was really him who
was hailed' (and not someone else).
(Althusser 1971: 174)

Interpellation Marxist media

the subject (viewer, listener, reader) is constituted by

the text
the power of the mass media resides in their ability to

position the subject in such a way that their

representations are taken to be reflections of
everyday reality
reflect a stance of textual determinism
but actually texts have a polysemic nature (plurality
of meanings) together with the diversity of their use
and interpretation by different audiences

The familiarity of the codes) leads us to routinely

'suspend our disbelief' in the form

Recognition of the familiar (in the guise of the

'natural') repeatedly confirms our conventional ways

of seeing and thus reinforces our sense of self whilst
at the same time invisibly contributing to its
'When we say "I see (what the image means)" this
act simultaneously installs us in a place of knowledge
and slips us into place as subject to this meaning.


Discussion question
1. Discuss the two visual texts given in terms of
its genre, receiver of the text, directness and