Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Auteur theory

core definition

Auteur theory is a term used in film studies to refer to the view that a single individual, usually the director, has the creative responsibility for the film.

explanatory context

Auteur theory thus presupposes that there is a primary Ďauthorí of a film. Auteur theory thus implies intentionality.


This notion is extended to imply that a director's intention is re-presented in a body of work in which she/he is involved. In this sense auteur theory resembles the idea in fine art of an artist's oeuvre

analytical review

Brianair (undated) reports:

The auteur theory is a way of reading and appraising films through the imprint of auteur (author), usually meant to be the director....Very simply the basis of auteur theory is that instead being a co-operative, industrial product, a film becomes identified with its director, who is seen as the ultimate creative impetus or force behind the film. It is actually more complex than this in theory but it does attempt to insert an author into the film. Of course not all directors are 'auteurs' and we will go into this a bit more later and what actually constitutes an auteur. Auteur theory is also very pervasive and has entered the popular discourse on films with critical opinion and reviews often articulated from this point of view... 

associated issues


related areas

See also


Brianair (undated) 'Auteur theory', available at, accessed 21 November 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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