By John Fiske
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Extra resources for Cultural Studies (Volume 2 Issue 3)
In what follows, we want to extend these insights by pointing to those features and activities that illuminate more specifically what constitutes popular culture as both a site and a field of pedagogical work. Culture as a site of struggle and power relations We enter the process of theorizing the relation between popular culture and critical pedagogy by arguing for educational practice as both a site and a form of cultural politics. In this regard, our project is the construction of an educational practice that expands human capacities in order to enable people to intervene in the formation of their own subjectivities and to enable them to exercise power in the interest of transforming the ideological and material conditions of domination into social practices which promote social empowerment and demonstrate possibilities.
The pedagogical principles at work here are similar to those at work in the left’s celebration of high culture. In both cases, the rhetoric of cultural restoration and crisis legitimates a transmission pedagogy consis-tent with a view of culture as an artifact and students as merely bearers of received knowledge. 5 In these perspectives, the modalities of revolutionary struggle and conservative preservation seem to converge around a view of popular culture as a form of barbarism, a notion of ‘the people’ as passive dupes, and an appeal to a view of enlightenment which reduces cultural production and meaning to the confines of high culture.
Rather, the meaning of cultural forms can only be ascertained through their articulation into a practice and set of historically specific contextual relations which determine their pleasures, politics, and meanings. This position straightforwardly implies Roland Barthes’s encouragement that ‘whenever it’s the body which writes, and not ideology, there’s a chance the text will join us in our modernity’ (Barthes, 1985:191). Thus our comments on the text of Dirty Dancing are offered not as abstract observations Cultural studies 38 without an observer but rather as a fully embodied account.
Cultural Studies (Volume 2 Issue 3) by John Fiske