Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities


Jennifer D. Slack


This work reads Feed A Child’s 2014 South African fund raising campaign advertisement ( through Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding model of communication. Utilizing concepts from Stuart Hall’s model this paper draws attention to racial questions raised by the commercial. Even though the commercial’s stated purpose is to raise awareness of unequal social conditions in South Africa, its visual elements are racially offensive. The turmoil generated by the commercial is the consequence of the complex structure of its message, and the fact that its meaning is not determined solely by the organization’s stated intentions. This work explores the way that the processes of encoding and decoding generate different meanings. Hence, in spite of its attempt to combat economic racism, Feed A Child’s message has been decoded by part of its audience as the reproduction of historical stereotypes that confined blacks in South Africa in a ghetto of deficiency and laid the foundations of racism and apartheid in the country. In what is characterized as continuous struggle over meaning, this paper builds on Hall’s work on representation and reaches the conclusion that there is actually no fixed meaning to Feed A Child’s commercial message. Rather, its meaning resides in the articulatory process by which the two instances of meaning production negotiate for dominance.