Known as the "godfather of multiculturalism", Hall had a huge influence on academic, political and cultural debates for over six decades.
Jamaican-born Hall was professor of sociology at the Open University from 1979 to 1997, topping off an academic career that began as a research fellow in Britain's first centre for cultural studies, set up by Richard Hoggart at the University of Birmingham in 1964. Hall would later lead the centre and was seen as a key figure in the development of cultural studies as an academic discipline.
Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of The Open University said: "He was a committed and influential public intellectual of the new left, who embodied the spirit of what the OU has always stood for: openness, accessibility, a champion for social justice and of the power of education to bring positive change in peoples' lives."
His impact was felt far outside the realms of academia, however. His writing on race, gender, sexuality and identity, and the links between racial prejudice and the media in the 1970s, was considered groundbreaking.
Diane Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said: "For me he was a hero. A black man who soared above and beyond the limitations imposed by racism and one of the leading cultural theorists of his generation."
Later he wrote for and was associated closely with the journal Marxism Today in the 1980s. The journal's critique of Thatcherism - a term that Hall is said to have coined - challenged traditional leftwing thinking that held that culture was determined purely by economic forces, a view that would come to influence the Labour party leaders Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair.
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham paid tribute to his friend's intellectual range and prescience: "He was one of those 'cut-through' academics that could write in an incredibly erudite, Ivy-league way but who could also explain things in a way that could be understood by the ordinary man and woman. He was a thinker that you could not ignore."
Lammy said Hall would often come to visit him at the House of Commons, offering counsel and advice but was never afraid to berate him where he felt Lammy was wrong: "He was someone I had huge respect for, a real father figure. He was a kind, generous, wonderful man and a great, great role model".
In one of Hall's last interviews, with the Guardian two years ago, Hall expressed pessimism about politics generally and the Labour party specifically. "The left is in trouble. It has not got any ideas, it has not got any independent analysis of its own, and therefore it has got no vision. It just takes the temperature: 'Whoa, that's no good, let's move to the right.' It has no sense of politics being educative, of politics changing the way people see things."
Hall received a traditional "English" schooling in Jamaica before winning a scholarship to Oxford University in 1951. He took a degree in English but later abandoned a PhD on Henry James to concentrate on politics, setting up the influential New Left Review journal with the leftwing academics Raymond Williams and EP Thompson.
A documentary about his life by the film-maker John Akomfrah, called The Stuart Hall Project, was shown in cinemas in September. Writing in the Observer, the journalist Tim Adams wrote of the film: "You come to see how pivotal his [Hall's] voice has been in shaping the progressive debates of our times – around race, gender and sexuality – and how an increasingly conservative culture has worked lately to marginalise his nuanced understanding of this country."
Hall had been suffering ill health for some time, and had retreated from public life.