Saturday, February 28, 2009


1- Williams asserts that at times hegemony “is being dragged back to the relatively simple, uniform and static notion which “superstructure” in ordinary use had become” (p.135). Indeed, in my point of view hegemony has been overused by many scholars to the point that it may loose some of its meaning. At the same time, if hegemony is deeply embedded and constitutive of social order (Hebdige, 1979; Mouffe, 2007), it makes sense to rely on this theory to explain social phenomena. Therefore, when is it useful, helpful, and effective to use hegemony as a theory and when not? What are its limits?

2- The media construction of subcultures is complex. On the one hand, if subcultures are radicalized, represented as threatening for social order and society, they are being trivialized, highlighted as Other. On the other hand, if the media minimizes their Otherness (e.g., portraying punks with their families), these subcultures are being defined in terms they sought to resist (Hebdige). Although cultural studies approach tends not to “patronize,” I wonder whether there is any way or suggested way on how to better represent these subcultures?

3- Barthes (1972, as cited in Hebdige) characterizes the petit-bourgeois as a person “unable to imagine the Other.” As a result, the Other is trivialized, and the difference is simply denied. In social psychology, it has been demonstrated that the in-group/out-group dynamic is almost intrinsic to any social being. That is, people tend to see out-group members as less-diverse Others because they are exposed to a fewer number of them (among other reasons). This eventually would explain the reproduction of stereotypes. In sum, besides the cultural and ideological reasons that may explain why the petit-bourgeois is unable to imagine the Other, this social psychological approach suggests that having difficulties to imagine the Other is almost constitutive of being social, although people can do efforts to be exposed to a larger number of different people, so as to understand their diversity and complexity. Anyway, both approaches –one being more psychological and individualistic and the other more structural and ideological— seem to focus on the same problem. How do they interact with each other? Is it possible that interaction (I don’t mean convergence in Ang’s terms)?

4- Ang poses that the hidden agenda of audience research has been its commercial or political usefulness. Then, she wonders how can cultural studies develop insights –she avoids the word knowledge-- that “do not reproduce the kind of objectified knowledge served up by market research”? (p.183). Although the phrase “hidden agenda” is negatively charged, empirical audience research certainly has a commercial or political value. But my question is: Isn’t it true that any kind of research produces knowledge or insights that ultimately can serve a commercial goal? Ang, for example, asserts that the interpretation derived from cultural studies ethnography revealed that gendered television-viewing practices are not just expressions of different needs, as the uses and grats approach would suggest, but are a product of interactions and power relations between men and women. This finding or interpretation provides information that may be used by, say, market companies. It is new information on how the social “black box” works. For instance, they may generate a message or an ad that resonates with these social interactions to be more persuasive.

5- Parameswaran suggests that one of the reasons why feminist cultural research has neglected journalism is because scholars “challenged the centrality of journalism and its association with privileged masculine forms of address.” (p.97). As a result, it focused on popular culture. What were the less-masculine characteristics of pop culture that attracted feminists?

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