Sunday, February 15, 2009


1- Hall talks about the tension of doing theoretical and intellectual work (especially critical/cultural research) and making a difference in the world (“what’s the point of the study of representations, if there is no response to the question of what you say to someone who wants to know if they should take a drug…” (p.106)). Cultural studies deal with the politics of representation and discourses, which are important because they are powerful tools in promoting and preventing action. But how do we (academics) put our message out there in order to make people conscious about these discourses? I know that we discussed this topic a little bit last class but I still think (or don’t buy) the idea that by merely doing academic work and publishing in journals that will be read by a handful of academics we will be able to put our message out there.

2- Hall in his piece about cultural studies and its theoretical legacies tells that the intervention of feminism, as an external force, was decisive in the work of the Birmingham Center for various reasons: it positioned questions of gender and sexuality as power issues, it reopened the relationship between social theory and psychology, and it demonstrated how gender provokes resistance and activates patriarchal order even within critical academic circles. I still would like to know how feminism emerged as an intellectual movement. What were the processes by which feminism intervened in the intellectual and academic work of that period of time, especially in the cultural studies center? By the way, Hall distinguishes between being theoretical and intellectual. What is the difference?

3- Hardt (1986) asserts that British cultural studies landed more easily in American mass communication research than the critical school. Why did this happen? Are cultural studies less threatening than critical research for the dominant paradigm? Or, is it because research on cultural studies (e.g., gender, race) resonated more in the U.S. because of the feminist and civil rights movements while critical studies (which originally focused on class) did not resonate with the idea of a middle-class country?

4- The political economy approach, which focuses of the production of the media corporate world, argues that the media maintains the prevailing social order. Certainly, the media are organizations and corporations but they are also media workers who work under routines and embedded ideologies. Therefore, from a political economy viewpoint, what are the roles played by intentionality and conspiracy? Does the maintenance of statuo quo is due to intentional forces or not?
On a related note, media are strong tools to reproduce ideologies. But sometimes adding pluralism and multiculturalism, as Kellner asserts, is not enough because some ideologies are deeply embedded in the culture. Therefore, what is an alternative to challenge these ideologies? To me, the only alternative is to show how media transmit us those ideas so as to empower individuals. Is there any other alternative to promote change?

5- Alternative online media or citizen media are thought as tools that may alter the statuo quo allegedly reproduced by mainstream media. To what extent this idea is a real or a theoretical one given that most online media created by citizens (e.g., blogs, homepages) are, as Burgess (2006) shows, personal journals of ordinary people rather than radical media or agents of social change?

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