POPULAR CULTURE http://www.sage-ereference.com/view/sociology/n82.xml?
Popular culture is a malleable concept. It can be thought of as folk culture produced by people as an expression of their values and modes of existence, and it can be the opposite, an ideologically laden product imposed by an elite class in a display of power and social control. Popular culture can be an ordinary part of everyday life as well as a site of intellectual and political struggle. It can be a participatory form within a community (actual or virtual) that engages the most populous mainstream in society, and it can be a mode of entertainment—an almost universal feature of most known societies. Wall painting, body decorating, singing, and gladiatorial sports from the ancient world can all be regarded as forms of popular culture, as can Rembrandt's cottage industry products and Shakespeare's seventeenth-century theater. Items for inclusion in the category of popular culture are now so diverse that no single definition contains them. Thus, popular culture refers to any demotic form that appeals to the populace at large, and as such, it can function as a social bond and folk culture that is expressive of the people. In its early form, from the sixteenth century, the popular also implied the lowly, vulgar, and common (Storey 2005:262). Popular culture can simultaneously refer as well to a mass media dedicated to spreading propaganda and political repression. In the modern era of industrial capitalism, it is an element in a vast commercial enterprise that both coopts forms of rebellion and sustains an intellectual, creative class that might also be opposing it. When Andy Warhol declared that modern art is “what you can get away with,” he demonstrated the frangibility of the boundaries around art; in much the same way, the products of popular culture now exert similar category pressures, bringing emphasis to the problem of representation in the popular mainstream, of who is being addressed by the products, and who is the populace in popular. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the range of phenomena potentially covered by the term popular culture is such that its study is necessarily interdisciplinary and of interest not just to sociologists but also to a variety of area specialists in fields such as American studies (from which the Journal of Popular Culture has its origins), anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars. It has also generated new academic disciplines, including cultural studies, leisure studies, media and communication studies, and youth studies. It has been a focus of research and teaching in gender studies, where the question of how femininity and masculinity are socially and culturally constituted gives priority to issues of representation and everyday cultural practice. The coexistence of these new research and teaching disciplines with the older subfields in sociology from which some of them, at least in part, emerged (e.g., sociology of popular culture, sociology of cultural production, sociology of everyday life, sociology of education, sociology of gender, sociology of sport, and sociology of consumption) and with the more established disciplines of anthropology, history, and literature makes the field of popular culture crowded and, at times, contested.
THE FUTURE IS THE PAST
The legacy of the ancient Greeks, of Plato and Aristotle, and the aesthetic products of the Renaissance have been largely eclipsed by the scientific revolutions of the seventeenth century onward. This has had the
effect of separating the arts from science, creating dual cultures and knowledge systems that sometimes seem unrelated, and a consequence of the separation has been a quest for a science of human behavior and society. Yet such measures are elusive. A sense of progress is largely based on a belief that there are measurable trends in social organization and administration that build on the achievements of earlier societies. Estimates of the value of popular culture as contributing to the improvement and civilizing of society become implicated in these debates. For instance, those elements of popular culture that encourage greater liberalism in the circulation of knowledge and more democratic social practices can be used to signify increased levels of human progress. With the busy commercialism of the eighteenth century and the profound changes it brought to mechanics and technology, there was a comprehensive renovation of the individual's everyday experiences. Ideas now circulated widely through coffeehouses in London, Paris, and Venice; clubs and philosophical societies sprang up in provincial towns; the closed and elite position of the artist and patron had begun to change; commercial theaters flourished, as did dealers in engravings, paintings, silverware, and furniture. Publishers, merchants, and shopkeepers became part of an intellectual revolution that made the social meaning and status of art objects of fresh interest to the urban dweller. City life was not just about surviving dense living quarters and compromised hygienic conditions; it also involved the emergence of a middle class and the commercialization of taste and the arts. The material and technical changes of the modern world brought new ways of thinking about and experiencing pleasure, which in turn directly influenced what we now understand as popular culture and its capacity to shape society. Sociology's engagement with popular culture was framed in the first instance by the opposition between “community” and “society,” through which the discipline organized understanding of the transition from feudalism and agriculture to capitalism and industry. Popular culture produced by ordinary people (the folk) was part of the charm of community; popular culture produced as a commodity for “the masses” was part of the attenuated lifeworld of society. These oppositions of community/society and folk/mass are imbued with nostalgia for enduring social relationships and “traditional” cultural practices that have been embedded in a hierarchically ordered rural lifeworld—the “fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions” swept away, as Marx and Engels (1930:17–36) put it, by capitalism's “constant revolutionizing of production.” In the nineteenth century, with the advent of technologies for mass communication, mapping the terrain of popular culture involved adding further layers and permutations to the meaning of the term, which could no longer be restricted to culture produced by “the people.” The association of popular culture with widely recognized celebrity figures, material icons, and forms of social knowledge that are widely distributed through mass societies was under way by the early twentieth century with the expansion of communication technologies (film, radio, photography) and their increasing commercialization. Through the second half of the twentieth century, revolutionary developments in electronic and information communication technology allowed for increasingly rapid distribution of this culture across the globe. In effect, this lifts popular culture out of a local context (where it was situated prior to the nineteenth century) and relocates it on a global stage. The cultural industries (e.g., the Hollywood film studios and transnational telco networks) with their vast technological reach have made popular culture a defining feature of what Marshall McLuhan (1964) termed “the global village.” Both sociology and popular culture in its massproduced form were products of the same historical conjuncture—namely, the industrial revolution and its associated social, cultural, and political upheavals. The language of social fragmentation and moral disintegration that underpins discussion of the relocation of rural populations into industrial cities thus framed interpretation of their commodified leisure pursuits as less worthy than the folk traditions that preceded them. According to Raymond Williams (1961:17), the
This was a neat ideological reversal in which the historical actors who suffered most in the transition to capitalist modernity were deemed responsible for its sometimes impoverishing cultural consequences. such as the family. solidified yet another cultural fissure. It was not sufficient to study social institutions. commodified. Embedded in these views are assumptions that culture originating from the lower social orders.g. popular culture has been understood as those ideas and entertainments that win the attention of a mass audience. By definition. in particular.” uprooted peasants. who redefined culture to include a new layer of meaning—namely. whatever is popular has a large audience and is well received by huge numbers of people. As bearers of “mass culture. The creation of the mass audience from the 1920s. The sociology of popular culture in its contemporary form draws on the early work of Raymond Williams (1961). and environmentally polluted lifeworld of industrial capitalism could be judged. and as such. acquired ideas and tastes. were positioned as barbarians within the gates—a threat not only to social and political order but to “civilization” itself. sitcom TV. it is a manufactured form of entertainment and idiomatic knowledge often characterized as being inferior to other. and fashion magazines seems to advance the ideological appeals of materialist capitalism. it can be thought of as a tool in a political armory designed to be a form of entertainment that is made easily available to keep the masses distracted and diverted. is both less interesting than highbrow culture and more heavily freighted with ideology. Yet popular culture is not a homogeneous form. and Picasso.. Whether from Herder's (2002) understanding of “folk culture” or Matthew Arnold's (1935) sense of high culture as a bulwark against anarchy. remade as urban workers and a swelling underclass.
. The separation of high. In the twenty-first century. culture was positioned in opposition to the masses. the structure of feeling. The Frankfurt School. the popular is most often produced by professionals (such as journalists. questions about the nature of popular culture that relate to its production and audience (e. championed much of the avant-garde as the conscious minority who were resisting the standardization that came with the mass production and consumption of products from the American culture industries. Thereafter. largely through the popularity of Hollywood films. the question of whether popular culture is produced by the people for themselves as a kind of folk culture) represent viewpoints more useful prior to the eighteenth century. It also assumes that popular culture can be understood and interpreted properly from the vantage point of those in an elite intellectual position. and felt engaged in society. expressed views. Williams rightly pointed out that how people thought and felt about themselves and others played a singularly important role in shaping everyday culture. for instance.
MASS SOCIETY BECOMES POPULAR CULTURE
The sociology of popular culture separates from the sociology of the mass society at the point where the relationship between high culture and popular culture loses its simple homology with class division and assumes a more complex symbiotic relationship that generates new definitions of taste. musicians. In this context. and filmmakers) to appeal to global audiences that traverse various local cultures.idea of “culture” as it emerged in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was conceptualized as a transcendent sphere of noninstrumental value from which the increasingly rationalized. more highbrow or elite forms. and avant-garde tastes made it clear that cultural messages of any kind cannot be dissociated from the social conditions from which they arise. it was also necessary to understand how members of society communicated. Joyce. The popularity of contemporary forms such as the cinema. or appealing en masse to a mainstream. It can then be imbued with sinister intentions. it has contradictions within itself as well as a range of diverse forms. and the organization of production. extending the one created between 1890 and 1930 by the avant-garde of Rimbaud. A new manner of thinking about popular culture was provided by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. mass.
R. S. who argued for a top-down approach to the civilizing influences of culture.” Popular events and practices were judged according to the effectiveness of their contribution to one or the other of these outcomes. Eliot (1948) and F. thus. Such perspectives promised to incorporate the quirkiness of the private and the diversity of individual value positions into the sociological project (Truzzi 1968). who had lovingly documented the working class culture of his youth in The Uses of Literacy (1958). For instance. they argued.
CONTEMPORARY POPULAR CULTURE
One of the defining moments in the sociology of popular culture was the relocation of scholars from the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research to temporary accommodation at Columbia University in New York in the mid-1930s. their critical engagement with American popular culture was framed by an acute sense of the capacity of radio and film to mobilize audiences to support wrong-headed causes such as fascism. The dominant elite classes had expressed their own views through a monopoly over culture.” as evidenced by the inclusion of Howard Becker's (1963) study of dance musicians in Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance and Herbert Gans's essay on popular culture in America in the edited collection Social Problems: A Modern Approach (Becker 1966). Leavis (1948). from forms of expression and practices embedded in the lifeworld of “the folk” to forms of amusement and entertainment produced under industrial conditions as commodities for sale to the masses. Hoggart's construction of the working class and its cultural practices and preferences was a major factor in defining the populist agenda of popular culture in the British context.” then a shift in the popular. if the ideas of any age are the ideas of the “ruling class. thus positioning popular culture more as a “social problem. Learning to read objects and practices in a critical manner was the key to understanding society. With symbolic interactionism and the Chicago School. the technologies of mass communication served the interests of
. other social analysts and theorists were at work reshaping views toward the popular and. and this aura persisted into the mid-1960s. marked the beginning of a more complex way of understanding the individual's real or immediate social experience. changing the sociological landscape of everyday modern life. the location of popular culture in the ideological superstructure carried similar implications. and these values had been taken for granted. Now with the establishment of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. in so doing. The idea of the popular being resistive had not yet formulated itself within this perspective. has the politically serious consequence of positioning popular culture as a means of rendering the dominant system of class relations palatable to subordinate groups. The Taxi-Dance Hall. However. Within Parsonian structural functionalism. they had seen a popular movement that was morally corrupt and rancid. the canonical elite forms of high culture were transposed into sites of cultural struggle as new modes of seeing were being developed. He asserted the importance of art and culture as the means by which much of the individual's quality of life was revealed. Hoggart's approach was in direct opposition to the perspectives expressed by T. He made explicit the link between the study of popular culture and representations of class and the distribution of privilege. emphasis on system maintenance gave popular culture one of two functions: “value integration” or “tension management. Had this been a more successful maneuver. it might well have anticipated much of the success enjoyed by the subdiscipline of cultural studies some three decades later. thus. As exiles from Nazi Germany. the specter of social fragmentation and moral decline hovered over early studies such as Paul Cressey's (1969) study of commercialized recreation and the inner city. the study of popular culture in sociology can be located in terms of three broad traditions.established in 1964 under the leadership of Richard Hoggart. the notion of “subculture” did focus attention on social actors and the construction of meaning and. Within Marxism. Across the Atlantic. In the first half of the twentieth century and into the 1960s. In the United States.
but as he was writing in the 1960s. While Adorno was reviled as a cultural elitist. bombs and movies. by occupying men's sense from the time they leave the factory in the evening to the time they clock in again the next morning with matter that bears the impress of the labor process they themselves have to sustain throughout the day. They saw the culture industry as extending capitalist domination into all areas of life. and affirmation of existing social privileges. they shifted the terms of debate on the politics of the popular from “mass taste” to the conditions of its production.capitalism. after living 30 years in California. the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School framed the problem in terms of capitalist social and economic relations and technological rationality. who argued that democracy leveled taste to the lowest common denominator (e. Marcuse's concepts of “co-option” and “repressive tolerance” became part of the language of the New Left. they find their soul in their automobile. The Frankfurt School thesis on a culture industry uniformly affirmative of capitalism was destabilized by the advent of the New Left. more or less pleasantly to the producers.
subordinating in the same way and to the same end all areas of intellectual creation. standardization. and reframed the Hollywood movies of the 1930s and 1940s as “classics” celebrated by directors of the French “nouvelle vague.” they argued. whose members listened to Bob Dylan and The Doors. kitchen equipment” (p. His argument that “the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry” is part of a commodity culture that serves to “bind the consumers. de Tocqueville 1966. 24). phony culture” churned out as entertainment by Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. distance between audience and performers (the star system).. split-level home. and through the latter to the whole” (p. he was not writing from the position of social dislocation and culture shock that must have colored Adorno's views on American culture. While the Frankfurt School critique of the culture industry was of a piece with the arguments on “mass society” being put forward by David Reisman's (1964) The Lonely Crowd and C. it was less than palatable to a generation of sociological and cultural theorists who had grown up with television and regarded rock ‘n’ roll as “an instrument of opposition and liberation” (Gedron 1986:19). Yet Herbert Marcuse's (1964) OneDimensional Man presented a similarly bleak view of the capitalist domination gained through the broad appeal of entertainment and consumer goods. underground comics. “keep the whole thing together” (Horkheimer and Adorno  1979:121). (Horkheimer and Adorno  1979:131)
Whether the product was cars or culture. In contrast to conservative critics of mass culture. In coining the term “culture industry” (Jay 1973:216) to describe the “non-spontaneous. and films were capable of expressing and mobilizing opposition to capitalism. Marcuse (1964) lamented the infusion of the consumer ethic into the popular imagination: “People recognize themselves in their commodities.” “Automobiles. the technology of mass production was inseparable from “the rationale of domination” underpinning “the coercive nature of society alienated from itself. hi-fi set. 12) is faithful to the spirit of Horkheimer and Adorno.”
. instrumental orientation. Wright Mills's (1959) The Power Elite. read Karl Marx.g. Their commitment to the resistive force of rock ‘n’ roll was particularly strong if their reading of the Frankfurt position extended no further than Adorno's ( 2002) quarrelsome essay “On Popular Music” or his offensively ethnocentric essay “On Jazz” (published under the pseudonym of Hektor Rottweiler). Ortega y Gasset  1968). Popular culture was deemed an ideological misnomer for the products of a profoundly undemocratic industry characterized by centralized control. his thesis that radical students and blacks were bearers of the revolutionary mission from which consumption had seduced the working class gave de facto recognition to a new cultural politics in which popular music. reified. Yet at the same time. This interpretation of Adorno's essays on popular music and jazz so offended them that they read no further. albeit in commodity form.
This was a period of expansion in higher education and the extension of access to students from the working class. in terms of a shared interest in how culture and consumption served to integrate the working class into capitalism. The new generation of students in the early 1960s overturned the theories about industrialized popular culture and the mass society. It did not accept the theoretical approach to popular culture. decoding messages in one of three ways: (1) a dominant or “preferred” reading. One obvious consequence of the social. Popular culture was in that sense normalized as part of everyday life rather than positioned as a “problem” to be interrogated for signs of social pathology.A sociology of popular culture based on rejection of the mass society model emerged in the 1960s. was about to be swept away. and by implication from “above. many of whom were the first in their family to attend university. a space was being made in which a new twist in the social significance of popular culture was about to take shape. and political movements that defined the 1960s as a transformative decade was a new relation between popular culture and the academy. the people who have it. which is opposed to the way the “encoder” of the message intended it to be read. The depiction of society as a vast mass of alienated and atomized individuals. While earlier generations of sociologists had approached popular culture from the outside. which accepts the intended message. this was particularly unconvincing given the equation of rock music with youth rebellion. indeed. Yet there were significant similarities between the Frankfurt and Birmingham traditions. in which some elements of a message are accepted and others opposed. Feminism. which defined one's own tastes and practices as inferior. It might therefore be argued that dismissal of the Frankfurt School critique as an “elitist defence of high culture” is fuelled by a sense of class “injury” (Sennett and Cobb 1972) that produces selective (mis)reading—passing over barbed remarks about art galleries and “classical music” and taking umbrage at the perceived insult to ordinary people and their pleasures. and (3) an “oppositional” reading. Watching television was thus
. cultural. This new generation of students was also eager to consume the popular culture of its own making. nonetheless.” the post-1960s generation were more likely to share its codes and values. as the first generation to grow up with television and rock ‘n’ roll arrived at university and graduate schools. and the idea that popular music served to pacify the masses did not generate much enthusiasm. who were undifferentiated from one another and unable to overcome a nameless loneliness. Reisman's (1964) depiction of modern America in The Lonely Crowd was replaced with the communities of Woodstock. the Birmingham School adopted Gramsci's concepts of hegemony and counterhegemony to position popular culture as a site of struggle between the forces of hegemonic domination and counterhegemonic resistance. Changes in technologies of production were also implicated in rejection of the mass culture approach. (2) a “negotiated” reading. Stuart Hall's (1980) influential essay “Encoding/Decoding” argued that people are active “readers” of media texts. as Douglas Kellner (1995) astutely noted. gay liberation. Work associated with the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies exemplifies this shift in focus. But whereas the Frankfurt School's culture industry thesis allowed no scope for resistance. and there is no necessary connection to be made between being from the working class and identifying with its “taste culture” (Gans 1974:68). by implication. identity politics. and race debates shattered the sense of homogeneity that permeated the economic expansionism of the suburban 1950s and set in motion the mannerisms of thinking that would arrive at French poststructuralism and postmodernism and threaten the Anglo-American discipline of sociology with theoretical eclipse. While the emotional dynamics of social mobility are complex. There was a sense in which both the critique of mass culture and the culture industry thesis can be read as denigrating popular taste and. which made less sense as Fordist conditions of mass production and consumption were rendered obsolete by new electronic and information technology that made it possible for producers of all manner of goods to cultivate “niche” and “subcultural” markets.
street fashions. Internet chat rooms. For instance. the sociology of consumption. Popular forms such as top 40 dance music. Birmingham School studies of subcultures (e. exclusion. skateboarding. “The texts. Chris Jenks's (2005) sociology of culture brings the rigors of theory to illuminate how the contemporary urban experience can be understood as a shifting ground where the institutions of power and social order have been substantially destabilized by various innovations and.” and “audience pleasure” leaves out important questions of power and value in relation to forms of cultural expression in which one group's resistance involves another's oppression.g.. the impact of new technologies in communications. the serialized production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (1995) attracted at least 10 million viewers and subsequently has been broadcast in over 40 countries. active process of generating and circulating meanings and pleasures within a social system. As well as providing fascinating case studies of popular practices. John Fiske (1989) draws on Michel de Certeau's (1988:127) understanding of consumption as a form of secondary production to extend the argument on appropriation so that popular culture can be seen as being produced by its consumers.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
The maturation of popular culture as a proper field of sociological enquiry has seen a massive growth in its range of topics. 168). we can identify systematic instances of social injustice. In the same way. Such an example of a popularized book. popular culture cannot be imposed from without or above but indeed is “made by the people.” From this point of view. traditionally categorized as part of highbrow or elite culture.” whose choices determine whether or not the products of the culture industry are “popular. and system of production and reception disappear in the solipsistic ecstasy of the textual producer. In his view. it becomes more apparent that studies in popular culture can be portals to understanding the postmodern experience in a wider sense. The publisher of the novel sold 430. It might be argued that in the absence of power to define the repertoire of cultural resources from which “popular culture” is produced. what the culture industries produce is “a repertoire of texts or cultural resources for the various formations of the people to use or reject in the ongoing process of producing their popular culture” (p. has added further dimensions to the study of popular culture. uncritical valorization of “oppositional reading. records and other products that the people make into expensive failures” (p. “popular culture in industrial societies is contradictory to its core” because it is produced and distributed as a commodity by “a profit-motivated industry. McRobbie 1991). and viewers could no longer be written off as couch potatoes or cultural dopes.000 copies in the year following the television screening of the serial. Subsequently. it is “of the people. which invariably entail “resistance” to the dominant order. and from sociological readings of such popular practices. Hebdige 1979. 14) with subordinate groups appropriating commercial popular culture for their own ends. in particular. 23) and maintains that as a living. in which there is no text outside of reading” (p. Fiske (1989) points to “the number of films. In this vein. from an analysis of the greeting card (Papson 1986) to football crowds and museum attendance (Bennett 1995). It is not the case that popular culture is automatically about the simplest and most banal or only about the fashionable and fresh.redefined as an active process involving the production of meaning rather than the consumption of capitalist ideology. 24).” In support of his position.” but at the same time. consumer choice is a poor substitute for cultural democratization. and prejudice. identifies new directions
. Willis 1978) involve what Miller and McHoul (1998) aptly describe as a shift from “culture as a tool of domination” to “culture as a tool of empowerment” (p. this type of scholarship also alerts us to an underlying political agenda.” “resistance. society. and “blogging” reveal complex social relationships and group identifications. Moreover. As Kellner (1995) observed. The emergence of another contiguous field. from gender advertising (Goffman 1972) to radio broadcasting and teen magazines (Johnson 1979.
which in turn produce varied forms of popular entertainment. it points to the possibility that canonical products (Austen. sports events. and Mozart have been so repositioned. and humorous. Have these forms been co-opted into a nostalgic diversion that promotes the pleasures of domestic life? And can this be regarded as a disguised form of social control? Does such repositioning reveal the processes of bowdlerization that are so often apparent in popularization? Or. Illouz advocates the development of “impure critique. Such popular activities flourish in the more complex society of the town. Bakhtin locates carnival most often in an urban setting. she sees the “systematic ambivalence” of postmodernism as contrary to sociology's critical vocation—its necessary engagement with “the question of which social arrangements and meanings can enhance or cripple human creativity or freedom” (p. It could be argued that its depiction of local village life was a repudiation of the blurred boundaries and oceanic liberations that were washing over us with the advent of the Internet and instantaneous global communications. there is opportunity for outbreaks of the unpredictable. She argues that as in psychoanalysis. the popularity of Pride and Prejudice might well indicate a form of refusal of the social disruption being associated with increased globalization during the 1990s. Given the collapse of metanarratives through which cultural critics presumed to know in advance what texts “ought” to say and how. and social conventions can become inverted and thus made into sources of parodic humor and entertainment. which represents popular culture as a vision of the world seen from below. county fairs.” which engages with cultural practice from the inside instead of “counting the ways” in which popular culture promotes (or fails to promote) a given political agenda. Shakespeare) that are assumed to be part of an elite cultural field can be read differently and thus become expressions of rebellion and resistance to dominant conventions and manners of thinking. is the expanding category of popular culture a sign of maturation in the cultural capital of modern societies as products of our elite heritage are introduced and absorbed into mainstream life? The impossibility of providing definitive answers that would allow us to take a firm stand either for or against popularizing appropriations of canonical texts lends support to Eva Illouz's (2003) argument that what she calls “pure critique”—the tradition of cultural criticism that holds popular culture to account in relation to a clearly articulated political or moral standpoint—is no longer an option. where there are opportunities for contestation and where it finds application to a variety of contemporary festivities such as street parades. inadvertent. critical understanding in the sociology of popular culture “ought to emerge from a subtle dialogue that challenges reality by understanding it from within its own set of meanings” (p. where commerce and the marketplace bring together individuals with different experiences and cultural consciences. 207). Austen's sympathetic view of provincial life. The works of Austen. From the BBC version of Austen's novel in the mid1990s to the parodic film Bride and Prejudice in the Bollywood genre in the twenty-first century. At the same time. Ordinary individuals are given access to a global media and subsequently perform themselves. In this instance. there are numerous examples of how items of traditional elite culture can be reformulated into popular versions and thereby come to support a continuous and often querulous reading of the world. conversely. Reading against the grain and subverting the form can be modes through which we establish what we like and hence use the cultural form to reveal ourselves. political forces. Carnival is a festive form of political critique of existing social hierarchies and modes of high culture. who were experiencing an unnerving sense of destabilization brought about by the vertigo induced by mass communications and the accompanying collapse of temporal and spatial divisions. Heroes of the day
. and walkathons. It can transform the world into a site of pleasure where the significance of economic alliances. with the consequence that it is worth asking. 213). From this mix of strangers. One such approach to the meaning of popular culture is provided by Mikhail Bakhtin's (1984) study of carnival. bicycle races. Shakespeare.for studying the popular. may well have appealed to the modern masses. in contrast to the sophistication of London society. Accordingly.
they function as hinges or switching points where mainstream values can be derailed and rerouted. such as women. bookselling. the incompetent judge. Certain forms of popular culture appear to demonize those who are different or who have less social status. publishing. and conventions. is consequently made more self-aware. Through their (often unintentional) personal influence. entertaining. The spate of reality television programs has most recently introduced an intensified selfreflexivity into popular culture that echoes certain practices from the Renaissance. for example. which in turn is revealed to be much more diverse and contested than expected. Jews. dogs. and the incompetent boss.emerge and become instant celebrities. the quack medical doctor. and socially creative and have a wide popular appeal. popular culture is essentially conservative. Andy Warhol. The old distinctions of high and popular. in the heterogeneous spaces of the metropolis. like competitive sports. television. Jerry Seinfeld. thinking about the world. drug users. displays of mayhem and rebellion in popular entertainments can act as challenges to authority and thus articulate hostility and repugnance toward the stranger and lower orders. It has become a site where politics and aesthetics mingle freely. and cats (Darnton 1986). In a parallel manner. Such entertainments. the hen-pecked husband. and living in it build a foundation for forms of entertainment and culture that are engaging. acting to maintain the imbalance between a privileged elite and the masses. Bart Simpson. the simple-minded corporate executive.” in that it generates a widespread interest in the banal and ordinary. When this occurs. bikies. such interpretations of popular culture as sources of self-management and self-critique can be refigured to show that some forms of the popular function in oppositional ways. In this way. speech patterns. Contemporary popular culture in the West has been dominated by a celebrity culture that elevates individuals into icons of practice: Greta Garbo. such as being expressions of resentment and hostility to others. and the downtrodden poor and social castoffs who were bestialized. For instance. we can see the networks through which the arts. music. the spectator or viewer is made a witness to difference and. Thus. can be seen as “carnivalesque. supposedly function as safety valves in a society where values are thought to be held in common and where instances of dysfunctionality and schadenfreuden (common in television sitcoms) work to restore the social balance and reaffirm social cohesion. as collectively repugnant. individuals with different cultural experiences and values are brought together in clashes of language. This darker. the rich property owner who had delusions of grandeur. cinema. and he used these stereotypes to characterize the carnivalesque qualities of contemporary social life. such as those found in religious cults. when Georg Simmel (1900) analyzed metropolitan life in the early decades of the twentieth century. Michael Jordan. and at the same time. sometimes sinister side of popular culture characterizes the differences and expressions of resistive contra-subcultures. he identified stock characters such as the dude who slavishly followed fashion. music groups. In contrast. Such stock characters mirror many of those presented in popular television and mainstream cinema— for example. Mick Jagger. behavioral habits. and so on become archetypes of modern values.
The field of popular culture is much traversed by classifications and categorizations. They are instruments in the production of popular culture. when carnivale drew attention to the fragility of status and the social order and showed how easily it could be inverted. The globally popular reality TV program Big Brother. These displays of contrasted styles of conducting business. and nomadic feral surfers. the sexually wayward priest. elite and mass
. Marilyn Monroe. gypsies. in turn. the unpredictable. These types become figures of fun for an audience that laughs at the incompetence of those who generally hold greater economic power and social prestige. and magazines are interleaved. lunatic politician.
along with the growth of audiences who seem variously willing to purchase entertainment. and this makes it an irresistible focus for sustained sociological attention. separate and distinguishable from more banal popular forms. sculpture. literary studies. that distinguishing between commercial culture and popular culture is difficult. media. popular culture has become such an economic powerhouse that it has political consequences.cultures are destabilized by the recognition that the arts are a form of political mobilization. Scholars of popular culture from the various disciplines of anthropology. making it seem a quaint and narrowly focused object. for instance. poetry. such as folk dancing and singing. The modern cultural form produced from artifice and overrefinement threatens to overshadow the indigenous art form. and social distinction and the desires associated with the fashionable life. to understand popular culture. the House UnAmerican Activities Committee provided a vivid instance of the political power attributed to the culture industries. and technology. It was a concern of the eighteenth century. Popular culture as a series of practices has had a tempestuous past ever since its economic and political dimensions have been uncovered. and again a similar debate erupted in the last decades of the twentieth century. Subsequent debates on the nature of the sublime resonate through studies of culture. which raises the question. as distinguished from craft and the mechanical arts. After all. A nostalgic primitivism that upholds the “noble savage” is as much a part of popular culture as are the overproduced techniques for selfimprovement. Immanuel Kant (1800) elaborated this point in Kritik der Urteilskraft by suggesting that beauty and the arts corresponded to definitions of truth and goodness. painting.
. pleasure. or styles of food preparation. and dance as the fine arts. With this definition. commerce. still convincing. Shakespeare and opera can thus be presented as high culture or adapted to popular and street forms. history. in Diderot's ( 1984) Encyclopédie. The pursuit of wealth through commerce produces an environment in which age-old skills and ways of seeing are easily surpassed. and so on function as analysts of art forms and the history of aesthetics as much as of political movements and social insurgency. distinctions in tastes are no longer just preferences intimately linked to biographical circumstances but also practices that reflect social and political viewpoints. In the mid-twentieth century. when the National Endowment for the Arts came under scrutiny by the American government and radical artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Karen Findlay were accused of corrupting the morals and minds of their audiences. and so it continues with current debates about the causal relationship between video games and the subsequent violent behavior of their audiences. it is necessary to unravel—at the individual level—the connections between economic acquisition. particularly when we think of dance as hip hop and sculpture as welded plates of steel and fused concrete? Montesquieu. we could now read the risks to some indigenous cultures. it was not until the eighteenth century that high culture became an acceptable category. At the structural level. sociology. these are relatively recent issues linked with other developments in the sciences. argued that the fine arts were distinguishable because they produced sensations of pleasure. The position of popular culture in the modern world is now inextricably linked with international politics and the global economy. he asserted a marriage between aesthetics and the emotions. What circumstances and interests are at work in shifting specific art forms into new expressive locations? How do these reevaluations occur and what viewpoints are being presented through them? When. when the Parisian printing apprentices murdered the totems of the aristocracy in the great cat massacre (Darnton 1986). pleasure. do-it-yourself kits. and it remains a concern now. and commercialized signs of status and snobbery. From this perspective. So it was in the sixteenth century. but importantly. and status. For those concerned with the loss of regional and provincial cultural forms. did opera and the live theater move from the popular into the elite category? Is the categorization of music. In short.
Kant. Horkheimer. Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture. England: Chatto & Windus. British Broadcasting Corporation. England: Routledge & Kegan Paul. F. Lowe. Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste. 1995. England: Methuen. Pergamon. . Rabelais and His World. Becker. London. 162–78 1995. England: Cambridge University Press. Australia —JOANNE FINKELSTEIN —BERYL LANGER
Adorno. Directed by Simon Langton. Darnton. “Encoding/Decoding. Berkeley: University of California Press. Theodor.  2002. New York: Columbia University Press.  1984.” Communication Theory vol. Herder. England: Routledge. London. 17–31 in Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Mass Culture. Mikhail. Hobson. 2005.” London. S. 1974. The Birth of the Museum. Hoggart. Translated by S. Jay. 1958. Illouz. 1972. “Communications vs. de Tocqueveille. New York: Wiley. Selections: Philosophical Writings. Dialectic of Enlightenment. 1988. London. Education and the University: A Sketch for an “English School. Stuart. London. Media. England: Free Press. Bennett. The Practice of Everyday Life. Erving. 1935. Michel. Social Problems: A Modern Approach. M. Dick. de Certeau. 2002.” Pp. Cressey. and P. England: Hutchinson. England: BBC. Hebdige. Berkeley: University of California Press. B. 1973. NJ: Smith. The Dialectic Imagination. Alexis. 1995. Boston. London. Democracy in America. London. London. London. Dent.JOANNE FINKELSTEIN Victoria University. ed. Pride and Prejudice (mini series). 1966. New York: Harper & Row. 1800. A. Diderot. England: Macmillan. Robert. T. England: Faber & Faber. Leppart). 1979. Becker. Encyclopdie. 2003. 1980. 5 no. Howard . Denis. MA: Unwin Hyman. John. The Uses of Literacy. 1986. Gender Advertisements. Lesley. Johnson. Modleski. New York. Tony. Fiske. Martin. England: Cambridge University Press. Kellner. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. 1969. Richard. Paul. Rendall. 10–21 in Culture. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. The Taxi-Dance Hall. Culture. The Cultural Critics. Herbert. edited by S. D. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. “Theodor Adorno Meets the Cadillacs. Critique of Practical Reason. Essays on Music (introduction by R. Hall. Australia BERYL LANGER La Trobe University. Understanding Popular Culture. England: Heinemann. England: Verso. Immanuel. New York: Basic Books. 1948. Cambridge. Harmondsworth. England: Routledge. Cambridge. Gedron. London.
. 1972–79.1966. Culture and Anarchy. London. Gans. G. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies. New York: Basic Books. Eliot. R. 1979. Arnold. 1986. Leavis. Goffman. (2) pp. 1948. 1963. Howard. Eva.  1979. Willman.” Pp. Hall. Bakhtin. Chris. The Great Cat Massacre. England: J. Notes towards a Definition of Culture. London. Patterson. 1984. England: Penguin Books. Max and Theodor Adorno. Matthew. Jenks. London. 1989. edited by T. Cultural Studies: Overcoming the Divide. J. Douglas.
McLuhan. Willis. Basingstoke. C. People. Since ideas about schooling are socially constructed.
FINKELSTEIN. John. New York: Knopf. Storey. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. The Lonely Crowd. England: Routledge. Bottomore. Grossberg. 1968. popular culture influences the knowledge people (adults and children) have about schooling. Marshall. and listen to music of their choice. Richard and Jonathan Cobb. edited by T. they have accrued an understanding of teachers and teaching.
The Role of Culture
Popular culture texts are often utilized as part of people's leisure activities. Raymond. The Humanization of Art. Harmondsworth. London. Wright. Mills. The Hidden Injuries of Class. England: Blackwell. This entry examines how the investigation and inclusion of popular culture is important to our knowledge about schooling. 1959. They are generally texts that amuse or entertain. Karl and Friedrich Engels. This means that analyses about schooling must include questions of how popular culture helps inform these understandings. 1998. Some view the texts as harmless
.sage-ereference. 1978. and BERYL LANGER. . etc. NJ: Princeton University Press. magazines.” Pp. including students. Simmel. 2005.) partially informs such a cumulative text. The Communist Manifesto. Translated by T.  1990. Popular Culture and Everyday Life. (2) pp.xml?rskey=patdvq&result=2&q=popular %20culture
Before students ever set foot in a classroom. 3 no. Learning to Labour. Angela. Paul. ed. Sennett. Web. England: Routledge & Kegan Paul." 21st Century Sociology. 1964. Popular culture mediates the sociocultural context from which schooling is understood. They read magazines. L. 1991. The Power Elite. 2006.  1968. Feminism and Youth Culture. Herbert. 262–64 in New Keywords. Thousand Oaks. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Marx. McRobbie. “From Symbolic Exchange to Bureaucratic Discourse: The Hallmark Greeting Card. New York: Oxford University Press. Morris. and M. London. Culture and Society. seek out texts as willing consumers. Williams. England: Lawrence. England: Saxon House. London. David. Bennett. That is. Truzzi . Oxford. ed. 1780–1950. films. . NJ: Prentice Hall. Georg. Ortega y Gasset. JOANNE. watch television and movies. 214-22. England: Sage. CA: SAGE. Princeton. The Philosophy of Money. New Haven. London. England: Macmillan. 1972. Tony and Alec McHoul. Sociology and Everyday Life. 1964. CT: Yale.Marcuse. "Popular Culture.
http://www. Popular culture (mediated texts like television. comic books. Marcello . Stephen. London. England: Penguin Books. 1961. Jose. 2012. 99–114 1986. music. SAGE Reference Online. Miller. “Popular. Ed. Culture and Society vol. children come to school already having consumed images and ideas about education. London. 25 May. Reisman. England: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1964. Englewood Cliffs.” Theory. Papson.com/view/foundations/n289. 1930.
. People also learn about themselves through the consumption of texts. For example. many students. Ideological messages are communicated through representations. The Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was the next large academic focus on popular culture. Cultural critics now charge BCS with analyzing popular culture texts from a narrow perspective. thus popular culture becomes a teaching tool. This is ideological knowledge filed away in consciousness. The intent of those affiliated with British cultural studies (BCS) at the time was to subvert the binary that existed between high and low culture and to do that. may learn what it means to be gay through texts like Will & Grace or Brokeback Mountain. through watching films like Dangerous Minds or television programs like Boston Public. with the help of Theodor Adorno. questioning their sexual identities but having no experience outside of the heterosexual world.entertainment. Through media. For example. in the early 1960s and approached popular culture from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Popular Culture and Academia
Popular culture has not always been welcomed into academia. which existed to legitimate the status quo. Although participants in BCS conceptualized texts as either dominating consumers or enabling resistance. that works to uphold society's values. People learn about the world. They conceptualized mass culture as an ideological tool. Instead of envisioning consumers as capable of resistance. Though followers of the Frankfurt School analyzed mass culture within the context of the cultural industry in which the artifacts were produced. coined the term mass culture . consumed by the desire for popularity and material goods. Films like Clueless and Ferris Bueller's Day Off may suggest that White upper-middle-class youth are self-absorbed. People also construct vivid understandings about schooling through popular culture texts. For example. Popular culture is a teacher and the lessons taught are not always consistent with educators' beliefs about what students should learn. One way people come to know schools. people construct negative images of the education system because there are few positive images portrayed in popular culture. many Americans learn about the Middle East only through mediated representations. a child may learn about gender roles from watching Disney films. many critics now believe that Adorno and others viewed the “culture industries” as too adept at mass deception. having never traveled or lived there. and students is through viewing the ways they are portrayed on television or in Hollywood films. and that their teachers are easily duped by their adolescent antics. Many cultural theorists believe the reason for this is that popular culture had long been viewed as a lower form of culture compared to artifacts like theater and opera. often synonymous with media. Through media. K. most of which illustrate traditional and confining gender stereotypes. while others argue the different texts comprise a larger institution. This is one of the main reasons educators have become concerned with popular culture as a site of education. they rejected the term mass culture . Unless these images get interrupted by personal and/or professional experiences in schools. people may conclude that urban schools are dangerous places and kids of color within urban schools are in desperate need of saving by White teachers. It came out of the U. and they are taught the dominant discourses surrounding what makes a good teacher. people also hear how unprepared and unprofessional teachers really are. teachers. Part of this is due to the binary that exists between academic versus popular knowledge. the Frankfurt School viewed them as easily duped by the industry. including schools. through these representations. The Frankfurt School theorists engaged in critical communication studies in the 1930s and. people also have access to worlds with which they may not be familiar. This term actually reified the binary between high and low culture.
particularly as it relates to pedagogy. including both administrations and teachers. a familiar stance is one of opposition to popular culture sharing academic space. Due to its dynamic nature. This focus has expanded to also include notions of ability. cooperate.” which students may or may not find relevant or representative of their lives. This raced and gendered influence continues to be seen in cultural studies texts that examine popular culture today. trendy magazines. they could link learning school knowledge to students' everyday lives. Critical pedagogues believe teachers can learn to embrace and utilize popular culture and its multiple forms of expression without judgment. They direct the trajectories of consumer culture. like class. I-pods. political. and coolest forms of expression. and learn and when they dismiss a teacher's knowledge and academics as irrelevant to their social world. It was believed that if educators could acknowledge popular culture as a site of learning.
Popular Culture and Critical Pedagogy
Cultural studies work. and all other features of identity. It dictates when they decide to listen. sexuality. body art.
The field of cultural studies has also examined the processes of consumption as a cultural site. must inform any study of culture. Since part of critical pedagogy is working toward a democratic society while empowering students. Many argued that critical pedagogy must include popular culture as a site of inquiry and schools should be conceptualized as instructional sites as well as cultural sites. This has enabled educational theorists to make links between popular culture and schooling. understanding how students constructed knowledge through practices outside of school could only assist educators in the empowerment of students. changing in response to social. by necessity. One of the ways students constructed knowledge was through learning from popular culture. In the 1970s feminist scholars and Black scholars challenged the discipline to look at the ways gender and race.many critics now claim there was too much of a focus on class and a lack of focus on race and gender. often clash over its incorporation in school social and academic settings. school systems. Educators may have to accept that they can never be the “experts” in this arena. once a popular culture form enters the realm of teacher knowledge and pedagogy and is made acceptable in school settings students lose interest and move on to the newest. teachers seeking to include popular culture in the classroom will choose texts they deem “proper. As a discipline. there was a move to include the study of popular culture in the development and practice of critical pedagogy. and youth.
. At the same time. identities. In schools. This judgment made by schools on the popular cultural choice of students is often met with resistance since many students see these expressions as integral parts of their identities. Since popular culture is most often reflective of youth culture. In the early 1990s. The discussion of popular culture and critical pedagogy has examined questions about the relationship between knowledge and power. The relationship between popular culture and schooling is complex. These desires and dreams are fueled by popular culture texts that shape and reflect what items kids think are “cool” and what brings status. cultural studies has been and continues to be dynamic. and this too is often met with resistance. The discipline explains that this phenomenon is not just about economics but also incorporates desires. Doing so changes the nature of authority in the classroom as students become experts and knowledge holders and the teachers become learners. Students are often chastised for or forbidden from participating in popular culture in schools where certain genres of music. that is. is interdisciplinary. and words on T-shirts are banned and labeled as destructive and distracting. This resistance informs how children perform their role as students. latest. and historical contexts. Schools were places that produced subjects and subjectivities. and dreams.
This type of media literacy grew out of Stuart Hall's conceptualization of three reading strategies a viewer may utilize to make sense of a popular culture text. and the means by which students go about acquiring desired material goods like the latest pair of designer jeans. much of the ideological messages and negative stereotypes produced by racism. since a dominant discourse presumes they steal from their classmates and others. is often blind to dominant ideology and. Students from low-income families are often berated for their preoccupation with items they cannot afford. This critique occurred while a growing field of cultural criticism was emerging. and racial lines. Students of color are often represented as criminal in their attempts to secure items. and resistant. These theorists claimed much of the work on critical pedagogy neglected the potential contradictions between various political movements and subsumed everything under a White. classism. are directly related to the reader's social position in relation to dominant ideology. Media literacy in this approach seeks to assist students in uncovering the ideology and critiquing the negative stereotypes as part of a larger project toward social justice. genderd. because of his or her position in society. Many cultural critics. critiques focused on the lack of representation and/or the negative stereotypes embedded within the representation. By validating students'
. or the hottest new sneakers. dominant. not empty vessels waiting to be filled or cultural dupes led only by what they see and hear. The move toward media literacy in schools takes two approaches. negotiated. concerned with the ways ideology was transmitted through popular culture forms. This engagement with consumer culture is highly contested across class. the most up-to-date technology. they must first educate themselves. working-class.As a result of their relationships with both the items and the popular culture representations.
Representation and Marginalization
Some educational theorists questioned not the linkage between critical pedagogy and popular culture but the means to obtain it. kids are often accused of materialism. Before teachers can help students to become critical consumers of popular culture. The second approach is similar to the critical pedagogy stance but also has similarities to the BCS approach. therefore. This materialism. A dominant reader. The first approach views media in a critical way. The reading positions. It conceptualizes popular culture as an ideological tool (similar to the Frankfurt School) but works to teach students how to be critical consumers and uncover the embedded ideology within a text.
Media literacy is the teaching about the power of textual representation. Internalizing these representations results in a preoccupation on the part of schooling systems with character education and security measures designed at reigning in these consequences of consumption practices and mitigating the influence of popular culture. Here popular culture is viewed as an integral part of students' lives. At first. is looked upon as detrimental to academic progress since it is claimed that the focus on school work is often overshadowed by preoccupations with material items. attention turned to how audiences make sense of the representations and how that sense making informs their understandings about themselves and others. This attention to meaning making by the discipline revealed that audiences are active participants in popular cultural discourses. male perspective. Soon. turned their attention to critiquing the power of the few representations that existed of marginalized groups like African Americans. and gays and lesbians. Latinos. Critiques about representation of marginalized groups have been important because of the ways the dominant society utilizes popular culture as a means for us to learn about ourselves and others. and heterosexism remain invisible. sexism.
T. . R. I.com/view/communicationtheory/n288. New York: Garland. Nelson. Fiske. New York: Routledge. Schooling in the light of popular culture. New York: Routledge. (1989). & Simon. By valuing this student knowledge. 602-06. (Eds. E. Daspit. Storey. E. . Jennifer. educators are viewed as helping to further democracy and emancipation.). C.
http://www. SAGE Reference Online. ed. New York: Routledge. Critical dialogues in cultural studies. Popular culture: Schooling & everyday life. Teaching positions: Difference.xml? rskey=patdvq&result=3&q=popular%20culture
.). constructing. Reading the popular. D. New York: Routledge. CA: SAGE. ed. London: UCL Press. connecting. Web. —Jennifer Esposito —Cerri Annette Banks
Adorno. 2012. 2008. This approach also views popular culture as a space of resistance. (1997).). & Holm. "Popular Culture. a media literacy version of liberatory education. (Eds. Popular culture and critical pedagogy: Reading. in other words. Buckingham. Jr. ed.). Athens: University of Georgia Press. . . ed. New York: Teachers College Press Färber. Boston: Unwin Hyman.
Esposito. L. P. G." Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education. Instead. ed. Albany: State University of New York Press. & Treichler. P. .. F. (Eds. . J. . . Provenzo. T. This type of media literacy takes the stance that popular culture is capable of more than being an agent of ideological domination. A. Kellner. (1991). (1998). & Weaver. A. Ellsworth. A. (1992). Grossberg. . . D. . Cultural studies and the study of popular culture: Theory and methods.consumption of popular culture. Media culture: Cultural studies. 25 May. (1995). (1999). Giroux. and the power of address. S. (1989). educators are validating student-constructed knowledge. it is viewed as an authentic part of the student's experience.sage-ereference. identity and politics between the modern and the postmodern. (1996). Teaching popular culture. (Ed. . and Cerri Annette Banks. J. New York: Bergin & Garvey. Ed. pedagogy. (1994). H. Hall. J. The culture industry: Selected essays on mass culture. Thousand Oaks. Students may learn about themselves and others but are also able to speak back to the messages they garner. Educators must understand what students know and learn from the popular culture texts they consume. Cultural studies. (1996).
period. Briefly. that of exploring meaning. early in their careers. it points to a particular way of life. who have produced a number of important theories and conceptualizations. which dealt with various aspects of French popular culture. In order to understand the significance of popular culture.and Spanish-speaking parts of the world. Lawrence Grossberg. Marxist thought. Popular culture constitutes a major meaning-making site for most citizens. and aesthetic development. Raymond Williams. structuralism looks for meaning in the structures of language and discourse. including. Alternative forms of cultural studies have emerged in non-English speaking countries as well. postmodern theory. The three definitions are. on the other hand. Drawing on the pioneering work of these thinkers. paid sustained attention to diverse forms of popular culture. P. and Stuart Hall.Popular Culture Theories
The study of popular culture calls attention to the importance of folk culture—folk stories. spiritual. Thompson. Williams proposes three definitions of culture. ethnography. The first is that it signifies a general process of intellectual. of course. while Hall has focused on the complex ways of decoding television and the role of ideology in shaping television culture. associated with structuralism. On the one hand. such as Richard Hoggart. or group. interconnected. from our current perspective of popular culture. Barthes's collection of short essays included in his book Mythologies. The third definition emphasizes the works and practices of intellectual and artistic activity.
Cultural Studies Approaches
Let us first consider scholars and theorists associated with cultural studies. It is an interdisciplinary mode of inquiry that originated in Britain in the 1960s and spread to many other parts of the English-speaking world. we need to have a sense of the importance and complexity of the concept of culture. and hence the way sophisticated theorists have sought to conceptualize popular culture merits close attention. whether of a specific people. Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault immediately spring to mind. scholars of cultural studies have uncovered the layers of significance of popular culture. folk theater. post-structuralism has a complicated relationship with its predecessor. The topic has generated a great measure of interest among scholars. The eminent British cultural theorist Raymond Williams once remarked that the word culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language. and John Storey—some taking their cue from the eminent French thinker Michel de Certeau—have sought to demonstrate the important ways in which popular culture opens up spaces of resistance in everyday life. for example. feminist theory. This is because the term culture admits of a plurality of interpretations and consequently is not easy to pin it down. ballads. and so on—and to various aspects of consumer culture. French. This entry briefly summarizes several bodies of theory emerging in the study of popular culture—cultural studies. poststructuralism is an extension of the interests and concerns of structuralism. E.
Structural and Poststructural Approaches
The second group of thinkers that I wish to briefly consider can be termed structuralists and poststructuralists. and others. In rejecting the idea that unified and coherent meanings are to be found in texts. it is a rejection of the idea that meaning can be discovered in texts apart from the contexts in which they are produced and read. Williams has written illuminatingly on the ways in which technology and cultural discourses meet in television programming. structural and poststructural ideas. Scholars such as John Fiske. According to the second. Early theorists of cultural studies. had a profound impact on the study of
. What is interesting to note is that some of the most powerful thinkers who became identified with poststructuralism were. the second definition seems most appropriate.
while Jacques Lacan's focus on language. In this regard. There is. there are other thinkers who were inspired by Marxist thinking who saw things differently. The work of Michel Foucault has been pressed into service productively in exploring popular-cultural productions. have sought to project popular culture as a site in which ordinary people struggle to negotiate meaning. trivial. playfulness. inspired by the writings of Gramsci. They saw the products of cultural industries as standardized. political. in his book titled Sixguns and Society. The ideals of discontinuity. ideological—as a crucial element in the meaning-making process.
Another approach to popular culture is that of Marxist thinkers.
The next group of thinkers that I wish to focus on is the postmodernists. the writings of the Marxist thinker Fredric Jameson can prove to be of great value. Although he sees the shortcomings of postmodernism as an intellectual formulation. There have been a number of
. When discussing the complex relationship that exists between postmodernism and popular culture. and offer resistance to unwanted and oppressive influences. Feminism gained great visibility as a social movement in the 1960s. A number of scholars. to be sure. problematic nature of reality. desire. Feminists focus on the unequal power relations in society and how they impact cultural production. and manipulative and saw that these had a depoliticizing impact on the working classes. For example the influential Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci saw popular culture as an instrument of hegemony. there are significant differences between these two groups as well. make sense of their lives and surroundings. a great measure of overlap between poststructuralists and postmodernists. Many scholars of popular culture have been influenced by postmodernist thinking. and so on in terms of the cultural logic associated with late capitalism. Theodor Adorno. relativity. music. and border crossing associated with postmodernism have been applied usefully to the understanding and investigation of popular-cultural texts. cultural studies scholars such as Hall and Grossberg have drawn productively on these ideas. and it has begun to influence our understandings of art and culture in significant ways. which focuses on how the power of one group is exercised through coercion and consent over other groups. video games. Will Wright. pastiche. the Frankfurt School represents an important branch. Poststructuralist thinkers go beyond structuralism and focus on the context—social. the formulations of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard are most important. They are interested in exploring how issues of gender operate within popular culture and how inequalities and disparities between men and women are articulated in cultural texts.popular culture. As examples. fragmentation. hybridity. However. however. This is most clearly evident in the domain of popular cinema. makes use of the structuralist approach to the analysis of myths deployed by the eminent structuralist anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss to analyze Hollywood Western films. he makes use of it to understand the cultural landscape that has been produced in popular cinema. Although there is a diversity of opinion operating under the general rubric of Marxism. Structuralist thinking has been employed in diverse ways in examining popular-cultural texts. closely linked to what they termed cultural industries. and subjectivity have opened up interesting and fruitful pathways of inquiry into popular culture. Herbert Marcuse.
The fifth group that merits close attention is feminists. and Max Horkheimer were leading lights of the Frankfurt School. They saw popular culture in negative terms.
and resistance have begun to attract increasing scholarly attention. J. P. representation. The British filmmaker Laura Mulvey. London: Lawrence and Wishart. who are increasingly drawn to popular culture. ranging from cinema to shopping malls. The intent of this short entry has been to highlight some. London: Hutchinson. —Wimal Dissanayake
Fiske. S. of the more significant theorists associated with popular culture.
Several scholars share certain features with some of the groups referred to above. (1954). has illuminated questions of female subjectivity in terms of popular-cultural texts. positions. and power relations are made.
A sixth group that merits consideration consists of ethnographers. Janice Radway opened up an important space of critical inquiry by investigating the ways in which women derive pleasure and meaning in their interactions with popular romances. in her important work on women and television dramas. focused on the mechanisms of pleasure—how it is generated and the ways in which it works. All of these feminist writers critique patriarchal social orders and male-dominated discourses in productive ways. ideology. legitimized. (1971).important feminist writers who have shaped the trajectories of thinking on popular culture. When we discuss theorists of popular culture. For example. Tania Modleski has done some pioneering work on the relationships between popular romances and women and television soap operas and women. though by no means all. Questions of popular culture in relation to subjectivity. the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has fashioned a number of concepts that have a direct bearing on the analysis of popular culture.
. Meghan Morris's work on popular culture. London: Unwin Hyman. Similarly. Gramsci. For example the Indian cultural critic Ashis Nandy has written perceptively on Indian popular cinema and other popular-culture products in terms of subject formation and cultural values. power play. Ien Ang. From an undertheorized field has emerged a remarkable vibrancy. through her writings on narrative cinema and visual pleasure. Lila AbuLughod's work on Egyptian television soap opera and Purnima Mankekar's studies on Indian television dramas are but a few of the examples that exemplify this trend. Hall. ethnographic attention has been given to all forms of culture. Selections from prison notebooks. and challenged in the domain of cultural productions. He dissects how social distinctions. & Whannel. The Japanese cultural commentator Kojin Karatani has written a number of seminal essays that shed valuable light on the dynamics of cultural production. Rey Chow's work on modern Chinese cinema that draws on feminism and deconstruction has encouraged many students of popular culture to adopt similar strategies of analysis. focused on how the male gaze operates and the ways in which in cinematic narratives men derive pleasure by turning women into objects of desire. A. including industrial societies and the popular-cultural texts associated with them. . we need to cast our net as wide as possible and take note of developments in societies outside the West. (1989). but do not fit neatly into any of these categories. desire. The problematics of representation and the role of male ideology constitute important strands in their thinking. His ideas on how cultural capital is produced are particularly relevant in this regard. social formations. Understanding popular culture. The field of popular culture has made rapid progress over the years. Traditionally associated with anthropology. The popular arts.
Wright. cultural studies engages education through both critique and creativity. this relationship is integral to considerations of the social and cultural foundations of education. and while those mentioned here are by no means exhaustive. (1983). The 1960s saw the development of subaltern studies in India and Southeast Asia." Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. and Stuart Hall. 25 May. Williams in England. CA: SAGE. adult literacy and popular education movements throughout Latin America (perhaps most noted in relation to Brazil with Paolo Freire's work in the 1960s). British cultural studies. Storey. Postmodernism. (1975). SAGE Reference Online. Cultural studies may be theorized and historicized in multiple locations. 2012. so as with its theoretical origins. Web.
Origins and Developments
Cultural studies practices existed before the term itself. Williams. or.
http://www. cultural studies and education. 762-65. in the 1970s). (1993). or transformation. R. cultural studies contributions to education. This entry will provide a broad overview of cultural studies: its origins and related developments. Cultural studies has broad origins within the Russian culturology movement and the Harlem Renaissance in New York in the 1920s and 1930s. interdisciplinary. New York: Prentice Hall. resistance.
Dissanayake. it is predicated upon intellectual activism as social intervention through engagement with praxis (the bridging of theory and practice) and represents a politicized engagement with society. . the cultural logic of late capitalism. seek to reveal and analyze relationships of knowledge. in 1932 in Tennessee). 2009. Relational in nature.com/view/foundations/n104. in addition to folk schools in Denmark and the Appalachian region of the United States in the 1930s (Myles Horton's founding of the Highlander Folk School. certain individuals and propositions. Sixguns and society. pedagogy. and misconceptions about cultural studies. power. London: Fontana. For these reasons. (1991). Furner.xml?rskey=patdvq&result=9&q=popular %20culture
Cultural studies is a multidisciplinary. "Popular Culture Theories. founded 1964 at the University of Birmingham) in Birmingham. its institutional origins cannot be viewed as definitive. The institutional beginnings of Western cultural studies are most often associated with the Birmingham school. P.Jameson. and francophone Africa and the Caribbean. even postdisciplinary approach to education. and E. and within these. Conveying perspectives from the humanities and social sciences to critically assess education through support. illustrations of the kind of work cultural studies scholars/activists do. Richard Hoggart.sage-ereference. broadly. Berkeley: University of California Press. England. London: Verso. J. and formal and informal learning production and practice in society and culture. and the Négritude Movement in France. Kenya. G. including Raymond Williams. Thousand Oaks. W. antidisciplinary. (1996). When viewed together. F. London: Routledge. some particular movements and institutions are generally associated with cultural studies and education. now the Highlander Research and Education Center. Ed. and popular theater of resistance in Kenya (the Kamiriithu Community and Cultural Centre in Limuru. Angela
. Keywords. Wimal. An introduction to cultural theory and popular culture. originating from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS. and the work of several associated scholars.
antidisciplinary. constructs of student subjectivity. Cultural studies allows concerns and expressions of experience on both personal and collective levels to be taken seriously as important indicators. cultural studies has grown as a discourse that has included its institutional-ization in graduate schools of education. or resolved. Cultural studies resists generic definition. and scholarly publishing. it is renowned for being arduously difficult to define. and representations. where commitments to literacy and working-class issues and concerns were major emphases. It recognizes the importance and validity of nontraditional teaching experiences. final. circumstances.McRobbie. and can offer resistance to formal school instruction when
. interdisciplinary. in locations where commitments were enacted to create social transformation and justice. and this in turn becomes one of its most defining elements. and links the creative and scholarly cultural production of the academy and community. and approaches to its examination are not limited to any one part of the social spectrum. and areas of inquiry. and where academic and community research collaborations developed. established. particularly from the 1990s through today. conferences. and philosophy. politics. at the CCCS. grassroots performative cultural acts that formed as resistant political expression. or methodological paradigm to neatly or “cleanly” define it. at times altogether contentious. and Paul Willis. exploring representational politics. ethnography and textual analyses as primary methods of documenting the life and practices of “ordinary” society and culture. cultural studies has no single object area. Because it deals generally with subjective human experience. Cultural studies is inherently variable. theory. Cultural studies has been taken up in various times and places. there are convergences and divergences. Unlike other disciplines or subjects. and positions are never completely concrete. While a foundational context of its development has been its location in class-conscious social critique and intervention outside of the “confines” of formal education. but constantly in process. As teachers are always operating within historically. and because education itself is so politically charged and contested. academic disciplines (sociology. Along with popular. as it is an array of many different theories. differing in locations. relationship with disciplinarity. Within cultural studies' theoretical discourses. and the analysis of pedagogy. teacher roles cannot help but also be political. media studies. Reflecting its flexibility. moments. address local and regional conditions and concerns. and co-construct knowledge in community engagement through popular approaches for purposeful political resistance. and public consumption of schooling and. English. within schools. and postdisciplinary. projects. in theory it does not endorse individuals or canons. and culturally situated contexts and constraints. it has been related as a successor to critical pedagogy and multicultural education. it is praxis oriented and intervenes in the institutional arrangements and ideologies in society that reproduce oppressions and structural inequalities. Cultural studies emerged from interdisciplinary activist projects within progressive adult education. a link underscoring education's relationship with cultural studies. in particular. among others). The 1980s saw the development of the intersections of cultural studies and critical pedagogy. In terms of progressive education. creating multiplicity. while at the same time having an underlying ambivalent. It has a commitment to the importance of recognizing popular culture as integral to the relationship of schooling and society. and negotiations of human existence. interpretations. cultural studies has expanded globally in terms of university programs. cultural studies tends to favor qualitative research methodologies and.
Characteristics of Cultural Studies
Culture is neither static nor stationary. cultural studies emerged from several traditional. which is why it is referred to at various moments as multidiscipli-nary. Continually experimenting with applications of new approaches to existing social conditions. developing as a discourse in discussions of postmodern educational thought and focused on examining the power. among others. socially.
applied as a tool for oppressive social reproduction and cultural transmission.
Not a Study of Cultures
Some international students and scholars may think of cultural studies as a study of cultures.S. cultural studies may best be spoken of not in a definitive way. revision. such as Lance Armstrong's story of recovery from cancer and his continued success as a professional bicycle rider. but more in terms of characteristics. It is clear from their applications and letters and e-mail that they are not aware there is a group of scholars known as cultural studies scholars. in terms of gender analysis. even rejection. or UK. all of this exposure to diverse cultures does not make a person necessarily or automatically a cultural studies scholar. and (f) is specific and local in its projects and never creates or endorses canons. and Korean care theory as she proceeded to develop her own care theory as a contribution to the conversation on caring. no theory without practice). Wright notes that these characteristics need to be treated as subject to negotiation. (b) addresses issues of power. examines and critically reflects on social and national identity/identification. is concerned with social justice. So Young Kang. “low” culture). transient list of broad characteristics which underpin much of the work designated as cultural studies: (a) informed by and creative of theory yet praxis driven (no practice without theory. Ultimately. Black feminist care theory. as well as when potential faculty apply for job openings in the program. power issues were exposed such as positions of marginality for Korean perspectives of caring that are influenced by
. Sharing these misconceptions may help to further clarify just what cultural studies is. or that cultural studies worries about certain kinds of problems and seeks to address those problems in particular ways. and it is possible to be a cultural studies scholar from the U. particularly if they have studied in one of these Western countries. for example. in terms of racial analysis. so that it became clear that an eastern perspective is missing from care theory. for cultural studies is always a contested terrain. everyone has the opportunity to meet international people. Just to be positioned as an outsider to the United States or United Kingdom does not qualify one as a cultural studies scholar. Cultural studies makes the case that not only classic literature (“high culture”) but also sports stories can serve as examples of narrative arguments for teaching ethics. Her philosophical analysis involved descriptions of the various theories and critiques of them from the varying perspectives. Still. can consider themselves experts in cultural studies. that can serve as rich examples of narrative stories that can teach students about ethics. many people travel. (c) takes the popular seriously (mass-mediated or popular culture. Today. Handel Wright offers an indicative.
Misconceptions About Cultural Studies
There are numerous misconceptions about cultural studies that one finds when working in a cultural studies of education program and when reading student applications to the program. There is a tendency for them to assume that individuals from a country other than the United States or United Kingdom. or sports stars such as Tiger Woods. (e) is interdisciplinary and flexible (subject to radical and far-reaching change). (d) deals with issues of social difference and diversity. and a good number live for extended periods of time in countries other than where they were born. Cultural studies has helped to argue for the value of sports stories. In this dissertation. a doctoral student from Korea. wrote a dissertation that compared White feminist care theory. Some examples of recent research work might help to illustrate a cultural studies approach to the study of cultures. Examples of cultural studies scholarship that address “low culture” or popular culture are studies that look at media presentations of performers such as Madonna. and never have traveled or lived in other countries. in contrast.
sociology. However. it might involve looking at classical liberal hegemony. and Palestine. a cultural studies scholar would need to address power issues: for example. Bosnia. recently wrote a dissertation that examined the history of girls' education in Kuwait prior to and since the introduction of Western ideals through the discovery and development of the oil industry. for example. class. For example. ahistorical nature of White feminist care theory was troubled and the race/ethnicity discussion of care theory was enlarged beyond the boundaries of Black feminism to include an Asian perspective. Barber's work takes him to various countries. However. This is international work and it involves comparisons of differing cultures. One can find scholars with an international focus in most fields of study today. but that does not mean he is a cultural studies scholar. as well as the various people's responses to these policies. and the hegemonic forces that create a situation where the women in Kuwait resist enrolling their daughters in schools and resist earning an education for themselves. Siddiqi studies national health policies and compares. because the United States's ideology emphasizes the value of choices and the importance of market competition in order to keep prices down and keep quality of health care up. marginalizing. but not necessarily in the Koran.” distant and separate from the United States and its children. in particular racism. not just in education. an epidemiologist. as cultural studies work is committed to doing. The work focuses on power issues in terms of the marginalization of women in the culture. In the Public Health program. but that does not make it cultural studies research. such as in war zones.Confucian ideals. looks at health care access issues at an international level. In Siddiqi's case. even though it would benefit them directly to have such a plan. such as Ireland. A cultural studies focus could provide a framework to address the experiences of children living in war zones in terms of race. That scholarship does not necessarily address power issues and take a social justice focus. and gender. Islamic. In Barber's work on how war zones impact children growing up in them. and it has an international focus. A cultural studies approach to international studies would entail a need to address the power issues involved. She examines the issue of girls being educated in terms of history. looking at war in terms of the objectifying. From the perspective of cultural studies scholars. and anthropology and brings a cultural studies critique to the analysis in terms of gender issues as well as colonization issues. with a focus on social justice issues. national spending on health care across a spectrum of differing types of governments and economic systems.
Not Multicultural Education
Cultural studies may be erroneously thought of as multicultural education. Another graduate student. Zaha Alsuwailan from Kuwait.” “others. many believe it has lost its critical edge as it has been mainstreamed into higher education and K-12 grade education. for example. at the University of Tennessee. The decontextuahzed. Multicultural education began its development in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States with a distinct focus on power issues.
Not International Education
Other people apply to cultural studies of education programs who think that cultural studies of education means this is an international education program or a comparative education program. and Western values and their varying influences on the national educational policy for girls' education. other-ing process that goes on that allows us to think of the children as “them. both international education and comparative education are fields of study that have a distinctive history of scholarship associated with them. Arjumand Siddiqi. multicultural
. Her analysis includes a comparison of Kuwaiti tribal. which can be viewed as causing people to vote against national health care plans in the United States. as well as degrees of impact depending on varying social status. Brian Barber in Child and Family Studies looks at the problem of children growing up in violent conditions. What is taught in the all-girls' schools in terms of a genderized curriculum is also analyzed.” “those Iraqis.
It is concerned with the marginalization of immigrant students. Henry Giroux and Handel Wright serve as good examples of scholars who bring cultural studies to bear on educational issues. and antiracist educational approaches have developed that seek to maintain a political focus on social justice issues. Even though cultural studies began with an educational focus. cultural studies emphasizes the many cultural phenomena that comprise society. including moments of contention and intervention. Adults came to Highlander to learn how to organize and found themselves positioned as teachers teaching each other what they knew and helping each other solve their problems. In education. exceptions. with knowledge deposited in their brains by their lecturing teachers.
Cultural Studies and Education: Always in Process
As a social project. However. but both of them have written about the marginalization of educational topics within cultural studies. new to a country. education has become marginalized as a topic for cultural studies. reinforced throughout media and society. but a multicultural approach is not necessarily representative. it had a sharper political focus that looked at issues of forced assimilation to the White majority culture and the loss of one's unique cultural identity. over time. Early on. including cultural studies entering the academy with the establishment of CCCS in the 1960s and gaining legitimacy within higher education. with the staff at Highlander serving as facilitators and resources to aid in their organizing efforts. retaining its contextualizing of individual and collective identities but with less of an interventionist political focus. while popular culture focuses have continued to develop. cultural studies scholars such as Paul Willis worried about how schools treated working class lads and offered a deep analysis of schools in terms of their class distinctions. of course. classism.education has evolved into a “melting pot” kind of approach to educational issues that seeks to embrace the valuing and appreciation of the experiences of all individuals. and the teachers who teach them. and extramural programs such as the Kamiriithu Community and Cultural Centre in Limuru. socially interventionist project that attempts the disruption of domination and oppression in schools and society. Cultural studies pays attention to the formal curriculum in schools (what is present or not in terms of
. It attends to forms of discrimination such as racism. through adult education programs such as the Danish folk schools and Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. and sexism and how these impact children in schools. as other spaces have developed. Thus one finds that an antiracist approach to education is representative of cultural studies. and whether their cultural expressions are engaged and their learning styles and needs are addressed in relevant ways. At one time. The world of school buildings and classrooms does not seem to be able to compete with a consumer-driven. Cultural studies strives to connect educational theory to educational practice as it looks at how power is used in ways that are generative as well as harmful. A cultural studies approach would examine and critically reflect on national identity/identification and the harm the majority culture imposes on various minorities. it is central to an oppositional. Myles Horton and the rest of the staff at Highlander Folk School strove to create adult centers where people could unlearn the passivity of school learning and begin to see themselves as social activists and leaders for change in a world that is unjust. a focus on educational issues has lessened. and both have noted how cultural studies has moved away from its roots. Paolo Freire was concerned about how schools create passive students who are so used to being banked. There are. Kenya. Cultural studies brings to education a focus on social justice issues.
Adult education spaces were initially the only spaces that allowed for a broader and deeper social and cultural critique. product-oriented market. that they don't learn how to solve their own real problems or how to resist the forced passivity of the banking method.
and African American students. abstract perspective as if it were everyone's reality. donated by Channel One in exchange for the requirement that children watch Channel One programs while in school.S. Barbara Thayer-Bacon. Mexican. all of which have been critiqued by cultural studies scholars. Mexican American. prior to trying to write any philosophical political theory that moves us beyond liberal democracy. For example. shown in participating public schools who receive free video equipment in exchange. she sought to immerse herself in particular school cultures and communities. pluralistic democratic theory that moves beyond liberal democracy. containing two minutes of commercials. not the individual. she risked writing a theory that assumes/imposes a universal. schools. as well as daily ritual practices such as dismissal for lunch or recess.
A Research Example
In terms of research approaches. It is possible to find numerous discipline contributions and a variety of research methodologies employed to try to address research problems from a cultural studies perspective. based on a belief in the interconnectedness of self to others. She also sought to consider how such a theory translates into our public school settings. contingent. rationalism. recently completed a study of five collective cultures in an effort to help her develop a relational. Thayer-Bacon suspected that if she studied Native American. such as free and open source software and the free culture movement. She realized that she was raised in an American culture that embraces classical liberal values of individualism. Cultural studies considers the commodification of education as a consumer product and attends to marketing issues such as the sponsoring of Coke machines in school hallways and television sets in classrooms. public schools was the realization that the students who seem to be struggling the most in U. are also students whose cultural backgrounds have a more collective focus that believes the family is the heart of the community. If she did not turn to the everyday world of schooling practice in various cultures. cultural studies of education starts with a social problem and then tries to consider what discipline areas and methodologies are available to help solve this problem. everyday world.” These students with the highest dropout rates include Native American.) Cultural studies takes up the creative democratization of access to knowledge and technology. it was vital that her theory writing be informed by practice in order to keep her theory grounded in the historical. are in direct contrast to the individualistic values that shaped America's government as well as its schools. or the lack of recess or playgrounds in lower income school areas). and rationalism. A theory that is separated from everyday practice will be unable to actually address anyone's particular reality. Consequently. with its assumptions of individualism. It is often given as a primary example of the “corporatiza-tion” of public schools. local. communitarian values of cooperation. and universalism.content). as well as the informal and hidden curricula (activities and structures of clubs and extracurricular activities. and fraternity. universalism. What triggered Thayer-Bacon's concerns with the impact of classical liberal democratic theory on U. what are the effects of federally mandated educational policies such as No Child Left Behind and the push for standardized national testing on children and their teachers in poorer school districts?). including nature. and that “it takes a village to raise a child. Cultural studies examines educational policies and how they impact diverse student populations in diverse ways (for example. and African cultures in depth. sharing. one of the authors of this entry. she would gain a greater appreciation of the values and beliefs that support a collective sociopolitical focus and a greater understanding of how these values and beliefs function in contrast to individualistic ones. when she began working on this project.S. (Channel One is a twelve-minute current-events television program. As a cultural studies scholar. Collective. the ones with the highest dropout rates and the lowest proficiency exam scores. In order to help her address her own cultural limitations and better understand tough questions and issues a
. relying on a phenomenological methodology.
Observations of classes and the interactions of the participants. the need to help contribute to their families' subsistence. Findings indicated that.S. it is sociological in its view of social structures. and anthropological in its use of data collection methods (ethnography). principal data collection methods were in-depth interviews and participant observations. Going to specific schools and staying in the homes of local members of the community. as well as a narrative style of philosophical argumentation. Grassroots organization. schools where the majority of the students historically have been disenfranchised from the United States's “democracy. made her observations local and specific to particular people in their local settings. and class. Notice that this research project is focused on social justice issues (concern for the high dropout rate of students from collective cultures) and how these students are disadvantaged within American schools (the norms of the schools being based on Western European individualistic values).relational. with the exception of several participants who were attending formal schools. as well as traveled to the origin countries of these three cultures to see how their collective focuses translate into the school curriculum and instruction there. This study is grounded in Mincey's praxis of working for educational equity as a means of social justice. as it involves philosophical theory and educational research. and economic difficulties. the study was informed by Marxist influences in the discernment of the roles class and economics may play in the translation of social power and
. were documented. an ethnographic educational research project conducted by Rosemarie Mincey examined the perceptions of educational experience of twenty adults in Guatemala who were participating in a formal social development program that employed an application of popular education pedagogy most associated with educator Paulo Freire. The researcher went into the field not knowing what she would find and was forced to be flexible and adaptive. For example. and sharing what was learned in the popular education classes with their communities were identified by the participants as being particularly significant. collection of materials handed out to parents. In this qualitative study. the research and social justice work of cultural studies scholars/activists reflects this range in subject matter and application. for it seeks to connect democratic theory to the daily practice of what goes on in public schools. Theoretically. Her study is praxis driven. community activism. All of these qualities are what make this study a good example of cultural studies applied to education. Thayer-Bacon designed a study that required her to spend time in U. Qualitative research applications of cultural studies and education offer a wide range of research possibilities. and its research methods use qualitative research techniques through observations. in addition to feeling that better educational opportunities would be key in helping their children and future generations have a better life. all with little or no prior formal schooling). pluralistic political theory must face in our pubic schools. namely. Almost all participants indicated a desire to have acquired more formal education. both inside and outside of the classroom. born from her experiences with formal schooling inequities she experienced as a student from a working poor family in the Appalachian region of the United States. The study is also interdisciplinary. through its phenomenological approach of direct experience and its use of the field notes gathered at the schools as narrative stories to illustrate the philosophical ideas. all of the participants had their formal educational pursuits interrupted or ended due to several prohibitive factors: large families. institutions. and field notes. This study draws from a number disciplines. with twenty interviews with ten male and ten female program participants providing the principal data that were analyzed for the study (participants ranged in age from sixteen to sixty-two.
Other Research Approaches
As with the issues presented in Thayer-Bacon's study. Thayer-Bacon is worried about social difference and cultural diversity.” She spent time in communities where students from these three cultures are succeeding in American schools. interviews.
K. New York: Routledge. students in classrooms. This multidisciplinary. Cultural studies of education: Mapping the terrain. The design and issues of this study deeply locate it within cultural studies and education. production. and philosophy. ed. pp. class. 49 no. and practice.. (Eds. . (Ed. and film. C. . there are social justice issues. London: Open University Press. . theory.). and policies such as mandatory attendance and zero tolerance have differing impacts on the lives of children and their families. B. and schooling. popular culture. New York: Seabury Press. Giroux. in daycare facilities. Where there are power issues. (1) 2009. (1992). . J. In higher education. 56 no. 39–60.). for they are not neutral either. (1997). tests and grades are not neutral forms of assessing what students know. new curriculum. Peters . Research as praxis. contingent human beings. literature. The relationship between cultural studies and education has strengthened the reconceptualization of education's social and cultural forms of knowledge. & J. Grossberg. race. . Philadelphia: Temple University Press. history. .. & Wallace. —Barbara J. ed. . but also media studies. Harvard Educational Review. J. interdisciplinary. Hytten. P.). (3) 2009. pp. L. Dent. on playgrounds. Adolescents and war: How youth deal with political violence. 107–23. What are we doing when we are “doing” cultural studies in education—and why? Educational Theory.). (A) 2009. & Freire. Unearthing seeds of fire: The idea of Highlander Winston-Salem. with the hope of helping to change unjust conditions and improve the quality of people's lives as a result. Cultural studies asserts that classrooms are not neutral places. antidisci-plinary. vol. Lather. ed. changing complexity. ed. Harvard Educational Review. particular. in a way that breaks down discipline boundaries and facilitates an understanding of issues in their shifting. Seattle. Horton.. ed. & Steinberg. The analytic perspectives of multicul-turalism and feminist critical pedagogy were applied to examine the contextualizing experiences of the intersections of gender. . Changing multiculturalism: New times. for example. WA: Bay Press. F. Eds. (1970). 278–308. NC: John F. textbooks are not neutral descriptions of the world. and explored formal education and literacy as components of participatory democracy. (Eds. Casella. analysis. . with M.). Trans. Educational Foundations. and cultural studies helps education address these issues through its contributions of critical assessment and creative possibilities. Bergman Ramos . anthropology. pp. (3) 2009. Doing cultural studies: Youth and the challenge of pedagogy. P. Freire. K. Cultural studies. G. vol. ed. 64 no. Barber. (1992). R. New York: Oxford University Press. Black popular culture.structural schooling inequalities. . . P (1990). vol. Bell . vol. P. M. postdisciplinary approach to research analysis insists on never losing sight of the political implications of educational practices and the impact education research has on the daily lives of local. pp. 257–277. (1975). supporting a foundational engagement with transformative implications for humanity. 11 no. Pedagogy of the oppressed ( M. not just social foundational discipline areas such as sociology. (2008). & Reichler.. in shopping malls. Thayer-Bacon —Rosemarie Mincey
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