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Education, South Africa, race

Text of Nadine Dolby

Popular Culture and Democratic Practice

NADINE DOLBY Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois

In this introduction to the study of popular culture in education, Nadine Dolby offers an insightful review of the literature informing this work. Her essay sets the tone and theme for this Special Issue, and begins to address why educators and educational researchers should pay particular attention to popular culture. Discussing the relevant literature and introducing readers to historical debates in the field, Dolby distinguishes between various understandings of popular culture and approaches to studying its relationship to education. Ultimately, Dolby argues, the importance of popular culture and its connection to education lies in the role it plays as a site for engaging in the process of democratic practice. She encourages educators to engage young people in a deep exploration of the multiple dimensions of popular culture and the public sphere, and highlights examples of this kind of engagement.Popular culture is a central force in the United States: it reaches into our homes, cars, and classrooms, and it influences what we buy, wear, listen to, watch, and think about. Popular culture can be immensely pleasurable, controversial, offensive, annoying, even addictive, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid.1 In many instances, it is tricky to draw a line between popular culture and the rest of our lives, so embedded is it in our daily patterns. Given popular cultures considerable role in U.S. society, I argue in this essay that it should be understood as a cultural practice that has its own power to create social change to alter social conditions and the very foundation of peoples lives. I particularly discuss here how popular culture can be mobilized by and with youth to bring about what I term democratic practice everyday actions that move us toward a more just and equitable society. Popular culture is hard to avoid because it is at the center of the public sphere in U.S. society. Of course, popular culture is largely driven by commercial interests, which are private and concerned with profit. Nevertheless, popHarvard Educational Review Vol. 73 No. 3 Fall 2003 Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College


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ular culture is a site where people have a voice, a stake, and an interest.2 Except on rare occasions (national tragedies, presidential elections), popular culture is the conversation starter at school, at work, and at social occasions. It often serves as both a social glue and a social divider: friendships solidify around a shared love for a particular band, music video, or television show, and being outside of the currents of the popular can lead to social isolation.3 Popular culture is also integral to the public sphere: politicians campaign on late-night talk shows, and The West Wing and other television programs produce episodes that address terrorism and themes related to September 11. Thus, popular culture is not simply fluff that can be dismissed as irrelevant and insignificant; on the contrary, it has the capacity to intervene in the most critical civic issues and to shape public opinion. But what exactly is popular culture? Though I use the phrase repeatedly in this essay, its meaning is at best vaguely defined. In his discussion of the concepts of popular culture, the popular, and the people, Tony Bennett, one of the central figures in British cultural studies, comments, The meanings of these terms and our understanding of the relations between them are not matters that can be resolved by definitional fiat. The most that one can do is to point to a range of meanings.4 While I acknowledge Bennetts concerns, my first task for the purposes of this essay is to create a working definition of popular culture through a historical overview of the field. As I discuss, popular culture can be understood as a text that is received by people and acted on, or as a lived experience that is created by people. The two approaches differ in emphasis: in the first case, the focus is on the text, interpretations of the text, and how individuals receive and interact with the text. In the second case, the focus is on youth and the worlds they create. In the following section, I take up the ideas of agency, democracy, and citizenship, and discuss the potential links that can be forged between popular culture and democracy. In the final sections, I consider the possibilities of engaging the idea of cultural citizenship as a way of analyzing young peoples practices for their democratic possibilities, and discuss examples from recent youth culture research that demonstrate popular cultures potential to alter the politics of the public sphere.

Defining Popular Culture and Its Role in SocietyTo study popular culture, researchers and scholars first have had to struggle with the task of defining what it is and, by extension, what it is not. Definitions are of course historically and culturally bound (and created) phenomena, and the answer to what is popular culture has changed significantly in the past fifty years. From the 1860s until the 1950s, Matthew Arnolds concept of culture, which in turn helped define popular culture, was the most significant and influential. In an often-quoted phrase, Arnold defined culture as the best that has been thought and said in the world.5 This definition, combined


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with Arnolds pronounced beliefs that the British aristocracy and middle class were not only superior to the working class but also further along the evolutionary path, led to a valorization of so-called high culture as opposed to the culture of the common or working class. Of course, Arnold simply declared his class, and by extension himself, the bearers of all that was civilized, right, and good and what the working class thought of this was none of his concern. Arnolds legacy shaped the paradigm that dominated the study of popular culture for almost one hundred years a paradigm that accepted as natural and commonsense the division between popular (or low) and high culture. From this perspective, that which is popular does not have as much value, is not as meaningful, and is less refined than that which constitutes high culture. For example, going to the opera, reading Shakespeare, or attending an art gallery opening are considered to be the province of purveyors of high culture, while Hollywood movies, Harlequin novels, and monster truck shows are examples of popular, or low, culture. Despite adamant critiques of this position, the distinction between popular and high culture lingers in everyday practice. For example, the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s went to the core of Arnolds philosophy, asking what parts of our culture were the best and thus most deserving of survival into the next generation. E. D. Hirsch, William Bennett, and other conservative critics fought against what they saw as the dilution of high culture (almost exclusively upper-class, Anglo-Saxon practices) by popular culture. Hirschs infamous attempts to codify and quantify culture through lists, and his ironically popular success, are powerful examples of the lingering influence of Arnolds philosophy.6 Yet what objective criteria exist to distinguish between the value of an opera and a monster truck show? As Pierre Bourdieu has argued, such cultural divisions are merely a way of perpetuating class distinctions anchoring such distinctions in fields that go beyond the economic.7 These practices provide further closure to class categories: culture becomes a barrier to upward mobility and status, even if money is not. Furthermore, recent theorizing points out that such distinctions between high and popular culture do not hold; Shakespeare was popular culture in his time, but is now considered high culture.8 As Stuart Hall discusses, similar challenges can be raised about the novel: while in some contexts it is considered bourgeois, in others it is not.9 More recently, Russell Watsons success as the peoples tenor collapses manufactured distinctions, American youth of all class backgrounds are rap music fans, and both the wealthy and the working class go to Hollywood movies. While Arnold, Hirsch, and Bennett are relatively unified in their critiques of popular culture, there is more disagreement among those who populate the radical, often Marxist-influenced side of the debate. First, there are those who might be labeled, as Greg Dimitriadis and Cameron McCarthy suggest, anti-populist.10 Despite differing political philosophies, the anti-populists are as dismissive of popular culture as conservatives, arguing that it intention-


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ally dominates and controls peoples minds, making it impossible for them to act. The best-known advocates of such a position are critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School, who dismissed mass culture as manipulative and stupifying. In Adornos words, mass culture impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves.11 While such perspectives dominated German critical theory in the 1930s and 1940s,12 there was also some dissent from this position, most notably the work of Walter Benjamin, whose The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction explored the potential of art as a space of political resistance.13 While Benjamin represents what Dimitriadis and McCarthy call a pro-populist tradition within the broader framework of German critical theory, there is a separate, Anglo-American tradition of scholarship that is similarly propopulist. As Henry Giroux notes, this tradition has its roots in both history and sociology, and is exemplified in the work of scholars who are concerned with valorizing and celebrating the culture of the working class, which is denigrated in the conservative divide between high and low.14 Spurning Arnolds celebration of high culture, such scholars often referred to as peoples historians, sociologists, or folklorists elevate what they term folk culture to the real and noncommercial, as opposed to the commercial mass culture that constitutes most of popular culture.15 Both positions, the anti- and pro- populist, have been criticized for oversimplifying and distorting the relationship between popular culture and society.16 First, critics associated with the field of cultural studies have examined the limitations of the determinism of anti positions. For example, Hall and McCarthy have critiqued Adorno and Horkheimers position as one that denies the working class any agency or the ability to think for themselves. Hall notes that viewing the people as purely passive is a deeply unsocialist perspective.17 McCarthy similarly comments thatI deliberately set myself in opposition to the subordination of third world people in determinist social theories by reasserting the agency of the oppressed and the decisive importance of popular culture in the ongoing struggle for political sovereignty in the third world.18

Second, while cultural studies theorists are centrally concerned with the concept of agency or the idea that people can and do act, despite the forces that attempt to structure their existence they are also hesitant to simply celebrate popular culture, as those associated with the peoples perspective tend to do.19 From the peoples vantage point, the working class is viewed as authentic, uncontaminated by influences from outside of itself, and a stable entity. Most problematic from the cultural studies perspective is the idea that the working class is unified, unshaken by divisions of race or gender (for example), and exists as a preformed identity. As cultural studies theorists like Hall have observed, no identity (including class) is natural, innate, and inevi-


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table. Instead, identities are formed and reformed within (and in resistance to) structures of power, and do not exist before societal conditions.20 So, for example, the working class in the United States in 2003 is substantially different from the working class in the United States in the 1970s, or the working class in Britain.21 E. P. Thompson, considered one of the founders of British cultural studies, brilliantly demonstrates this point in his seminal work, The Making of the English Working Class.22 Thus, cultural studies theorists contend that it is impossible to celebrate working-class culture (or even the working class) because such an entity cannot be discussed without noting breaks, ruptures, fragmentation, and continual reformation. Ultimately, neither the anti- nor the pro- position is particularly helpful in trying to understand the way popular culture functions as a site of power in society. Popular culture is not uniformly imposed on people from above, nor does it magically bubble up fully formed from the ground of the preformed working class. The work of Raymond Williams was enormously influential in reshaping the study of popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s, and assisted the field in moving beyond the reductionist analyses that predominated.23 Williams approach to the study of culture is inherently democratic: he restores cultural agency to the working class, while understanding that the working class is made, not found. Williams argues that the culture produced by the British working class is the legacy of trade unions, democratic practices, and collective solidarity. While bourgeois culture recognizes and rewards the individualistic accomplishments of the solitary artist or musician, workingclass culture rests in communal ties and collective creativity. As Williams argues, this form of cultural production is no less valuable than the bourgeois form. Williams enormous contribution through such books as The Long Revolution has solidified the connection between cultural practices and democracy, and definitively uprooted the distinction between high and popular culture, opening up the analysis of popular culture to the field of political theory, particularly the work of Antonio Gramsci. Numerous scholars have drawn on Gramscis theory of hegemony to provide a more complex, nuanced, and ultimately more useful way of analyzing the role of popular culture.24 As Gramsci argued, the dominant classes do not maintain control through the use of force or through blatant manipulation ( la Adorno and Horkheimer). Instead, Gramsci describes a process of hegemony, or winning the consent of the subordinated. The struggle to gain this consent is played out in multiple fields of civil society, and though Gramsci did not write specifically about popular culture, it is clear that in contemporary society it is one of the main arenas of struggle for consent. Given Gramscis insights into how hegemony works in society, scholars moved away from an either/or analysis of popular culture. Instead, popular culture became important because it was a field of struggle a place where consent was made, unmade, and remade. One of the central tenets of Gramscis philosophy is that the struggle for consent is always ongoing and


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shifting, never complete. Because there is never closure on political control control is not solely a matter of subordination there is always room to maneuver: small places and spaces have the power to create significant change, or to shift the field, so that consent moves in a different direction.25 Lawrence Grossberg, one of the most prominent scholars in the field of cultural studies and popular culture, underlines some of the central implications of examining popular culture as an open field of struggle. From Grossbergs work, several themes become important in contemporary research on popular culture. First, Grossberg invokes Gramscis idea of commonsense to underline the notion that popular culture is the site where our taken-for-granted interpretations of the world are made: what we know about the world is largely formed through our interactions with popular culture. Second, Grossberg underscores that popular culture is a major affective force in peoples lives: we experience joy, pain, pleasure, and sorrow (think of the emotional investment in sports, for example). Finally, Grossberg argues that popular culture is where our identities are produced and, by extension, it is the location of considerable struggle for consent. 26 Gramscis insights into hegemony also allowed scholars to understand that popular culture is not static, where meanings are decided with finality. As Bennett comments, A cultural practice does not carry its politics with it, as if written on its brow for ever and a day.27 Hall has also written extensively about this phenomenon, noting that, for example, a folksinger who is considered a rebel and nonconformist one day might be on the cover of a major magazine the next day.28 Similar observations can be made about many other types of music, musicians, and fashion trends; the critical point is that these shifts are not necessarily inevitable, nor are they meaningless. However, what is important is not the cultural forms, but, as Hall argues, the state of play in cultural relations.29 In other words, how does popular culture reflect and produce political, cultural, economic, and social relations in the larger society? How does it function as the ground of struggle?

Studying Popular Culture: Text or Lived Experience?Broadly speaking, scholars have answered the questions raised at the end of the previous section in two ways. Some scholars have studied the texts produced by popular culture. Others have researched often through ethnographic and/or qualitative methods how youth make meaning of, negotiate, resist, and remake popular culture. The ubiquity of popular culture texts in U.S. culture has spawned extensive study, research, analysis, and critique. Most of these texts soap operas, movies, advertisements, comics, sports teams, music lyrics, video games, superheroes, websites are produced by the media industry, with some limited exceptions (such as some websites). The study of popular culture texts has pervaded virtually every discipline and field in the academy, from religion to


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English to history.30 In education, perhaps the most prolific author in this area is Henry Giroux, whose work analyzing the texts of popular culture spans several decades.31 Roger Simon, Cameron McCarthy, Shirley Steinberg, Joe Kincheloe, Anne Haas Dyson, and Peter McLaren have also made substantial contributions to understanding how popular culture texts shape young peoples world.32 In broad terms, these scholars engage and critique the raw products of popular culture as they roll out of Hollywood, New York, and other venues. They embrace popular culture as a critical site of struggle over meaning and, most vitally, as a pedagogical site. In other words, popular culture is a place where youth learn about the world and, as Grossberg comments, where they absorb their taken-for-granted understandings about life, its possibilities, and its limits. As ethnographer and cultural theorist Paul Willis and others have argued, popular culture is a more significant, penetrating pedagogical force in young peoples lives than schooling:The field of education is likely to come under even more intense pressure. It will be further marginalized in most peoples experience by common [read popular or everyday] culture. In so far as educational practices are still predicated on traditional liberal humanist lines and on the assumed superiority of high art, they will become almost totally irrelevant to the real energies and interests of most young people and have no part in their identity formation. Common culture will, increasingly, undertake, in its own ways, the roles that education has vacated.33

A related body of scholarship within education and media studies focuses on critical media literacy, or teaching youth how to analyze and critique the messages they are bombarded with from media sources. Though there are some significant variations, many of these critics are overwhelmingly negative about the effects of popular culture on youth, and on society more broadly (see Trend in this issue). Such critics are representative of the anxiety half of what McCarthy and his colleagues term the anxiety or celebration approach to the study of popular culture.34 In their paradigm, popular culture is either wholly rejected as a dangerous influence on youth (i.e., the considerable anxiety over rap music in the United States in the 1990s) or uncritically embraced.35 Despite the visceral appeal of critical media studies, it is unrealistic to expect that youth will reject popular culture because of its commercial nature, or its potentially racist, sexist, violent, or homophobic content. As Grossberg constantly reminds us, popular culture is a source of pleasure, and human desire for pleasure will constantly draw us back to it, despite our intellectual critiques. Furthermore, neither anxiety nor celebration adequately engages the reality that popular culture can create multiple, and sometimes contradictory, effects and that what is important to focus on is not what is popular at a particular moment, but the relations that are struggled over, both within the public debate surrounding the practice and in its very performance (see Buckingham in this issue). For example, popular culture theorists are less concerned with the fact that Tommy Hilfiger or any other designer for that


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matter became embroiled in a conflict over race as much as they are with how and why fashion and popular culture play a central role in the struggle over race and racial identity among U.S. youth.36 Finally, there is a considerable and influential body of work that is often characterized as reception studies. Reception studies, as a field, provides a bridge between the textual analysis of popular culture and the study of popular culture as a lived experience. Janice Radways Reading the Romance, one of the most significant works in this field, is an in-depth examination of how women read romance novels. Despite the tirades against romance novels as antifeminist and disempowering, Radway discovers that the women who read the novels have a totally different experience: they find within them sources of strength and pleasure. While Radway is reluctant to assert that romance novels have no role in reproducing patriarchy, she is clear that readers responses are important and result in uneven and often contradictory effects.37 Similar work on how people receive and interpret popular culture abounds. One of the most significant areas of study examines how people outside of the United States interpret American television, and the different meanings that are given to Dallas and other American cultural exports in varying national contexts.38 Scholars who use a textual approach in their work are often quite concerned with individual and community agency; with the exception of a small branch of critical media studies, they are not apt to dismiss popular culture as a negative and enervating force. Yet, they only investigate this agency in limited ways. It is certainly important to analyze and critique the products of popular culture and to dissect them for the messages that they might impart to youth. But, as reception studies demonstrate, textual analysis of popular culture, despite its value, can only move the discussion and research so far. As Hall has brilliantly illustrated, there is no direct line between the encoded message and the message that individuals receive, or decode.39 Halls insight is supported by the empirical research conducted by Radway and others working in the field of reception studies. A less developed though promising line of educational research focuses squarely in this arena: on youths agency and what they do with popular culture in their everyday lives.

From Popular Culture to Youth Culture: Emphasizing AgencyThe Birmingham School, which was influenced by the groundbreaking work of Raymond Williams and the Gramscian turn in social science analysis, became the most significant site of the production of youth culture research in the twentieth century. Based at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s, researchers probed the intersection between youth and popular culture. Unlike popular culture researchers, however, youth culture researchers tend to begin with youth. They focus on young peoples lives and experiences,


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and emphasize popular culture as a site of struggle and (for the Birmingham researchers particularly) of resistance. Prior to the work of the Birmingham School, youth research was almost exclusively located within work on the sociology of deviance, which portrayed youth as criminals determined to undermine society.40 Birmingham School researchers were interested in the connection between ideology and form, detailed in Dick Hebdiges book, Subculture: The Meaning of Style, and Stuart Hall and Tony Jeffersons Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain. Instead of deviance, Birmingham researchers investigated youth subcultures in Britain Teddy Boys, Rockers, Punks, Skinheads, and others as forms of working-class resistance.41 Suddenly, clothes, hair, makeup, and music were not signs of typical adolescent rebellion (following the storm-and-stress models popularized by psychology) or criminal behavior, but of resistance to a class structure that determined their lives and futures.42 For example, as Christine Griffin notes, the storm-and-stress model, constructs youth as a period of inevitable psychological and social turmoil mid-way between the dependency of childhood and the mature stability of adult status.43 In such a model, young peoples outrageous clothes or preference for seemingly bizarre music become simply signs of a transitional stage. But Birmingham researchers rejected this model, arguing that these signs, or forms, did not simply express resistance they were resistance. Critically, they were not signs of resistance to the adult world, but to the specific class structures and entrenched hierarchies of a highly stratified British society. For example, the Teddy Boys style exaggerated, and thus mocked, the stuffy dress and manners of the British upper class.44 In turn, the Teddys mocking shifted the cultural meaning of the clothes and styles favored by the British upper classes, thus changing the naturalized configurations of power. In this way, young peoples style became a site of political struggle, as the notion of politics expanded well beyond Parliament, the courts, and street protests. The original youth subculture researchers focused on class analysis, but the field quickly expanded to include gender and race.45 By the late 1970s, researchers were also beginning to push beyond the relatively narrow world of youth subcultures to more expansive analysis of youth cultural practices and production, and how these practices perpetuated or challenged existing social formations. Most influential in this arena is Willis landmark book, Learning to Labour, an ethnographic study of working-class boys in a secondary school in an industrial area of England.46 Willis demonstrates how the lads in his study actively resist the institution of schooling; however, their resistance also reproduces their position in the working class. Willis underlines the fact that youth have agency and that they function in the world as legitimate political actors. As he demonstrates, however, this agency is not necessarily liberating for the lads. They exercise agency in resisting the structures and hierarchies of schooling, but this resistance ensures that they follow their fathers into manual labor jobs on the shop floor. Feminist researchers, such as Angela


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McRobbie, later critiqued Willis work for its failure to analyze the lads resistance within models that took gender into account. As McRobbie and others argued, their actions had implications not only for class relations, but for gender and race as well.47 Willis work spawned new interest in youth culture research, and soon researchers were investigating youths cultural agency in multiple arenas and along numerous axes: race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability.48 The tradition of youth culture research both coincided with and shifted the traditional foci of popular culture analysis. Because it focuses squarely on the lives of youth, youth culture research is able to probe the minutiae of actions and to analyze these actions as forces capable of making change in society. As Willis work demonstrates, resistant acts do not necessarily lead to liberation: they only hold its potential. But Willis reminds us that we must take the world of young people their priorities, their interests, and their affective pleasures seriously, for these actions are, at core, educational:Making (not receiving) messages and meanings in your context and from materials that you have appropriated is, in essence, a form of education in the broadest sense. It is the specifically developmental part of symbolic work, an education about the self and its relation to the world and to others in it.49

Despite the importance of this line of research for understanding youth, political struggle, democratic change, and education, it has been largely marginalized in an academy dominated by more mainstream research that does not take a critical perspective. As Griffin notes, the rise of the New Right in Britain and the United States in the 1980s sidelined radical voices and made it more difficult to obtain funding for the in-depth ethnographic work often required. Other problems surfaced within the academy itself, as the legitimacy of ethnography was questioned by the emergent theoretical paradigms of poststructuralism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism.50 Despite these difficulties, critical youth culture research is an important avenue for researchers interested in understanding the intersection between youth and popular culture, and resituating youth as active agents in the continual process of remaking democracy.

Agency, Democracy, and CitizenshipThus far in this essay, I have briefly reviewed the history of popular culture research and argued for understanding popular culture as a site of political importance and struggle. Following Gramsci, my argument significantly expands the commonsense notion of the political as being limited to the narrow spaces of the state. Instead, as Gramsci demonstrates, multiple sites have the capacity to create change; they are also political. Popular culture researchers emphasize the importance of interrogating the meaning of texts. In contrast, youth culture researchers begin with young peoples lives, and then reposition youth


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from passive receptors of popular culture to pedagogical actors who reshape the world through their everyday practices. As Lawrence Grossberg comments, Agency involves relations of participation and access, the possibilities of moving into particular sites of activity and power, and of belonging to them in such a way as to be able to enact their powers.51 This agency can lead in multiple directions. As Willis aptly demonstrates in Learning to Labour, the choice is not simply reproduction or resistance; youths practices can do both simultaneously and are not simply part of a process of reproduction or resistance. Agency does not necessarily lead in the wished for or expected directions. It does, however, always transform the social, cultural, and political landscape, creating new terrain that then must be negotiated (see Willis in this issue). In this section, I focus on a particular type of transformation that of radical democracy and its connections to young peoples everyday practices. A radical model of democracy diverges significantly from the more commonplace, and well-entrenched, liberal democracy. In the liberal democracy model, citizens assert agency within the public political sphere. This agency, in practice, is largely limited to voting and participation in electoral politics. Such participation, as evidenced in the contested results of the 2000 U.S. presidential election in Florida, is uneven and sometimes unavailable.52 The persistence of an unequal social order in the United States the tenacity of racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression is a persuasive argument against the efficacy of liberal democracy, despite its promises. Liberal democracy is also limited; it is a very slow process of change, and if citizens hope for their actions to have an effect, they must curtail those actions to a narrow band of electoral activities. This approach to democracy also eschews the institutions of civil society as sites of agency and power, a significant drawback. As Cornel West argues, Culture is as much a structure as the economy or politics; it is rooted in institutions such as families, schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, and communication industries (television, radio, video, music).53 Radical democratic theories, in contrast to the liberal theories outlined above, explode the idea that electoral politics is the only site of agency and power within society.54 Instead, many sites become potential loci of change and transformation, including peoples small, often discounted, everyday acts. Within radical democratic theory, people are actors and players in every realm cultural, political, economic, and social. Recently, radical democratic theorists have been concerned with the growing privatization of democracy and citizenship, and the narrowing scope and definition of citizenship. In the immediate postWorld War II era, citizenship expanded to include social rights, following the influential work of T. H. Marshall in Britain.55 Marshall convincingly argued that in order to exercise political and civil rights, citizens had to be accorded basic social rights. Without a safety net that provided food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education for everyone, citizenship was not equally available. In more recent years, however, industrialized countries


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have experienced a sharp curtailment of social rights, which has had an impact on the free exercise of political and civil rights.56 At the same time, contemporary citizenship is reshaped by the increasingly globalized nature of human and economic relations (see McCarthy in this issue). While nation-states still control and police national borders, the necessary correlation between citizenship and a particular territorial space have changed. For example, Katharyne Mitchell argues that todays realities challenge ideas about democracy, including John Deweys, that are limited by national boundaries.57 Global environmental movements are premised on the very real principle that pollution knows no borders, and that democratic citizenship action must, by definition, exceed the limits of the nation-state. The cross-border flow of people and capital has also caused some nation-states to reconfigure government bodies so that citizens living outside of the national borders still maintain official representation and a voice in their democracy, so critical is their financial contribution to the economic health of the nation.58 The above shifts in the reality of citizenship have created serious challenges for radical democracy, particularly its commitment to the role of the state and the public sphere. However, they have also created untapped possibilities. While liberal democracy embraces the division between the public and private spheres, radical democracy presumes that private acts (of consumption, of cultural production, of identity) are inherently part of the public domain which reaches far beyond the strictures of state politics. Individuals who do not have access to substantial political, civil, or social rights still exercise agency in the cultural realm, and this agency can have far-reaching implications for social relations. Moreover, cultural sites are pedagogical often more so than political ones. For example, it is clear that youth learn more about race through sites of cultural production (television, movies, music, etc.) than they do through state apparatuses (presidential declarations, national commissions, and the like).59 Youth act on this information exercise their agency, their citizenship, and their creative production and contribute to multiple sites in society: their homes, families, schools, and communities. In this way, young people are not just refashioning private spheres and private identities, but are contributing to the transformation of public spheres, citizenship, and democracy. As citizenship is reconfigured, its possibilities increase to include spheres that are not normally considered constitutive. As Chantal Mouffe demonstrates, these spheres can be conceptualized as new political spaces, which are outside of government and go beyond the accepted confines of civil society.60 Undoubtedly, one of these spaces is popular culture, as it plays a significant pedagogical and political role in contemporary society. Popular culture can thus become a prominent political space for the negotiation and enactment of a new dimension of citizen: cultural citizenship. Cultural citizenship, as Toby Miller discusses, is largely unconcerned with the traditional discussion of rights and responsibilities, which is both idealistic and disconnected from


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the realities of how citizenship is actually defined today.61 As Cindy Patton and Robert Caserio comment, Millers work goes a long way towards solving the problem of citizenships invidious distinctions by reminding us that the ideas and practices of citizenship are themselves more various than definite, more fruitfully indistinct than are the distinctions made in citizenships name.62 Thus, the idea of cultural citizenship suggests that citizenship has changed in numerous ways. First, the formal, political arena is not the only place that we need to look to find expressions of citizenship: participation in the public sphere, in democracy, also occurs outside of these formal structures, in locations such as popular culture, schools, and the structures of civil society. Second, citizenship is no longer solely defined a priori to its practices. In other words, states do not necessarily say, This is what citizenship is, and expect all to conform. Instead, states actively investigate how people act (peoples practices), and redefine citizenship to accommodate these new realities. While not directly linked to the study of popular culture, Peggy Levitts research graphically illustrates how economic, cultural, and social practices actively shape the ways in which a state defines citizenship. In the case of the Dominican Republic, the nation is considering reconfiguring citizenship (and parliamentary representation) to accommodate the reality of everyday practices: that Dominican communities occupy a transnational space that exists in both the Dominican Republic and the United States, and that the economic vitality of the Dominican Republic is dependent on the work of its citizens who reside abroad. Such redefinitions of citizenship have also been implemented in varying ways in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and Portugal.63 In these instances, the practices of citizenship define the reality of its implementation; similarly, youths practices in the context of popular culture can be a starting place for redefining democratic practice, and for looking at enduring questions through new paradigms. One of the inevitable challenges to embracing popular culture as a potentially democratic space is its location within the bounds of privatized consumption. As Michael Apple notes, the American citizen is often equated with the American consumer, and freedom is redefined as a set of consumption practices. As Apple argues, this couplet has a long history in the United States and, more recently, citizenship has been sharply and specifically equated with consumption.64 For example, in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in September of 2001, U.S. citizens were exhorted to consume in the name of patriotism and citizenship: the U.S. economy, and thus its democracy, was dependent not on the display of flags alone, or on the willingness to bomb Afghanistan, but on citizens commitment to dine at restaurants, go to movies, and buy new washing machines, big-screen televisions, and cars. The intertwining of consumption and democracy in the public imagination is evident in Mobys (a popular musician) reflections on the role of his music in the public sphere: The role of popular music is democratic. . . . I feel I have to do everything in my power to at least make what Ive done available to people


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and then trust the wisdom of the democratic consumerist process to sort it out.65 Moby marries democratic and consumerist in a manner that is troubling to many critics, despite its resonance in contemporary society. Apple labels this trend conservative modernization and rightly decries the loss of a vibrant, public democracy, and of relationships that exist outside the sphere of consumption, specifically in education and social policy. Despite these critical and valid concerns about consumption, there are ways that consumption can potentially serve democratic discourse and be a central, transformative component of the public sphere. Social and cultural historians have demonstrated that the paradigm of citizen consumers has often been mobilized to progressive ends. At the turn of the twentieth century, the National Consumers League organized women consumers both to secure their own interests and to lobby for protective legislation for workers.66 Private consumption has also, at times, created opportunities for the growth of the public sphere. For example, the growth of department stores in the early twentieth century allowed middle-class women to participate in a public sphere encouraged by the department stores wish that they dawdle, chat, and partake of tea and lunch in order to increase their exposure to the stores wares. While department store barons did not intend to advance middle-class womens participation in the public sphere, that was exactly the consequence.67 Despite attempts to draw a sharp line of distinction between citizen and consumer, they have always been intertwined, if understudied, identities in the United States. As these examples demonstrate, consumption is not necessarily and inherently a private practice with no radical democratic possibilities. Individuals and communities have been mobilized as citizens within the framework of consumption, and consumption practices have changed the spaces of democracy. As I will discuss in the following section, a similar argument can be made about the relationship between youth and popular culture at the turn of the twenty-first century: young people can be mobilized as citizens within a framework of consumption, and consumption practices can and do change the spaces of democracy.68

Cultural Citizenship, Youth, and Democratic PracticeIn this section, I discuss research that takes up the radical potential of engaging with popular culture as an emergent element of democratic practice. While no practice is inherently democratic, using a framework of democracy to analyze cultural practices can enlarge our understanding of how what young people do on a daily basis forms and reforms the political landscape. Such an approach is a central component of what Henry Giroux terms a practical cultural politics, which maps the workings of power as a productive force beyond the dynamics of reproduction and resistance.69 Yet, as I have argued, it is not enough to analyze the representations of youth in popular culture. While important, this approach cannot in and of it-


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self provide a basis for change. In addition, the base established by youth culture research needs to be linked in more fruitful ways to political, social, and economic structures. As Meg Jacobs has commented, popular culture and consumption practices have often been studied within an identity framework by scholars in cultural studies.70 What is often missing in this work, as insightful as it is, is a meaningful connection to larger, and often urgent, issues about politics and the economy the gritty materialities exemplified in the work of Michael Apple.71 The concept of cultural citizenship helps to bridge this gap. It underscores the fact that everyday cultural practices are not disconnected from pressing economic and political issues about the future of democracy in an increasingly privatized, globalized world. Instead, those cultural practices are a force in shaping and reshaping that world. I turn now to concrete examples of the type of research that I believe supports a move toward analyzing youths popular culture practices within a cultural citizenship model. The authors whose work I discuss here do not use this paradigm in their work and may not necessarily agree with my analysis. But these approaches suggest the potential of identifying spaces where youths popular culture practices contribute to shifts in the public sphere, in the creation of knowledge, and ultimately to the practice of democracy. The examples I discuss are specifically concerned with the relationship between race, popular culture, and cultural citizenship, although they take up these issues in different ways.72 However, race is certainly not the only aspect of public life that is affected and changed by youths engagement with popular culture. There are undoubtedly many aspects of public life that have been researched and that merit further investigation. Maisha T. Fishers essay (in this issue) is another example of how we might think about using the practices of popular culture to expand, not only our notions of literacy and cultural identity, but citizenship. In her book Shades of White: White Kids and Racial Identities in High School, Pamela Perry looks at how White students in two high schools one majority White,73 one minority White construct White racial identities within these differing circumstances.74 Perry does not avoid popular culture, but instead accords it prominence in her research and analysis. Perry demonstrates that while White students at the two schools both use and consume African American popular culture, the meanings and practices they produce are not identical, because of the differing contexts. For example, White students at the majority White school tend to ignore the Blackness of African American popular culture, instead positioning it as tough, urban, and cool.75 In contrast, White students at a school where they are in the minority are compelled to negotiate their relationship with these popular cultural forms through their personal, everyday encounters with African American students. Perrys insights imply that we cannot understand the significance of African American popular culture on the formation of White identities solely through an analysis of its representations in the mass media culture. Perry is able to ex-


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plore the contradictions in White identity through her reading of White youths everyday practices with African American popular culture. In her work, we can see clearly that White youths engagement with African American popular culture is not simply a private matter without public consequence on the contrary, their practices are formative of the new public space of race as we begin the twenty-first century. In this way, they are engaged in cultural citizenship, using their agency and the abundant resources of popular culture to reshape the contours of perhaps (still) the most significant and pressing public matter in American life: race. It is evident that, in this instance, popular culture is a vital political space. Sunaina Marr Maira demonstrates the same potential in her recent book, Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City. Mairas analysis of second-generation immigrant youth centers on the cultural practices that define their identity. Maira forefronts youths agency and their use of popular culture (including African American popular culture) in their construction of what it means to be a second-generation American. Again, these performances of identity are not merely private and personal affairs; they reshape the meaning of race and the boundaries of racial relations in the United States. For example, as Maira illustrates, while in Britain bhangra music has created solidarities among Black communities, young people in the United States have not taken up the music in the same way. In this example, we see that music, and the alliances formed by music, can have radical democratic potential; that it does not in the U.S. context Maira investigates is an issue that requires greater exploration.76 In my own work at Fernwood, a multiracial high school in South Africa, I investigate the connections between race, popular culture, and the potential for reshaping the public sphere through young peoples practices of cultural citizenship.77 One of the most significant findings from my study is the way that alliances formed through popular culture change the public racial alliances in the school. For example, the politics of rave produce divergent racial politics at different grade levels of the school:78 in grades eleven and twelve, rave is exclusively a White youth cultural practice, and Indian, Colored, and African youth are united in their opposition to rave.79 However, in grade eight, rave unites White, Indian, and Colored students. African students are excluded from the practice and, significantly, from their sense of solidarity with Indian and Colored students. While popular culture is not the only factor contributing to this shift, it is a significant one, both analytically and in the minds of the students. The shifts in the practices related to popular culture produce changes in the public sphere of the school. Young people exercise their agency, a form of cultural citizenship, to reorganize racial life at Fernwood and, as this pattern is repeated, at schools even more broadly throughout the Durban metropolitan area. Again, such reconfigurations cannot be predicted from analyzing the texts of popular culture, but only from engaging with how youth actually use it in their everyday life. In the case of Fernwood, the changes I detail may be detri-


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mental to the future of racial relations, for the break signals a weakening of African, Indian, and Colored alliances the very alliances that brought down the apartheid system. While in this case I cannot claim that youths practices are democratic, they are still significant if there is a desire to understand, and then try to reverse, the racial patterns of South African society. Finally, Greg Dimitriadis important research on African American youth and hip-hop opens up still another trajectory for investigating how we might use youths cultural practices as a way of deepening radical democracy. In his book, Performing Identity/Performing Culture: Hip Hop as Text, Pedagogy, and Lived Practice, Dimitriadis examines how African American youth at a community center use rap texts in their daily lives. As Dimitriadis argues, while there have been innumerable studies of the text of rap music (and here I use text to mean not solely the actual lyrics, but multiple forms of representations of rap), there are no studies that examine how African American youth actually engage with rap. Dimitriadis methodological approach is critical, because he demonstrates that reality on the ground opens up possibilities buried within a purely textual approach. For example, he explores the claim that the hiphop generation has little awareness of the history of Black oppression in the United States or current political struggles. Dimitriadis contrasts the teens reaction to two texts that examine Black power and the civil rights movement: Panther (a popular film about the Black Panther party), and the well-known documentary, Eyes on the Prize.80 Perhaps surprisingly for an adult audience, the teens view Panther as more realistic than Eyes on the Prize. While Eyes on the Prize is rejected because it is boring and in black and white, the teens are able to engage with the lively, narrative-based Panther. From this, Dimitriadis concludes that it is unfair to claim that the teens are apolitical; they do understand and engage the political import of Panther. However, they have grown up surrounded by particular popular culture forms and conventions, and thus it is not surprising that they would find those narrative structures more appealing. It is not that the teens are apolitical it is that the definition of political needs to shift. Like the other authors, Dimitriadis insists that we must look at popular culture as a site not just of young peoples identities, but as a place where new political forms and potentials can occur. All of the above authors provide glimpses of what is possible when we study how youth use popular culture in daily life through a framework that insists that private acts have public consequences. What youth do with race in their private lives, how they reify it, remake it, or question its borders, is not separate and distinct from the debates about race that occur in the public arena. Nor are their practices solely reactions to what occurs in the public sphere. In contrast, what youth do with race has the potential to actively impact the way debates are framed, issues are examined, and policy is shaped. The line between a private cultural act and a public political one is eliminated within the paradigm of cultural citizenship. Instead, cultural citizenship assumes that the


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site of the public sphere can be transformed, in multiple ways, by what we as individual actors do in our own lives. It is clear that the shifting, discursive nature of race as a public sphere has changed significantly over the past decade, both within the United States and elsewhere. These young peoples engagements with race, through the medium of popular culture, represent what Lois Weis and Michelle Fine term subterranean spaces, some in school, many not, within which youth work out the politics of mind, body, soul, and pleasure. Within these spaces we witness deeply educative pedagogies, politics, moves toward self and community, a reshaping of borders, fractures, and social realignments.81 These spaces are often private, but, as I have argued, they bleed into the public sphere, both reshaping it and indicating paths of movement that were not previously visible. Fine and Weis, along with the authors included in the collection, are committed to resuscitating the political and democratic potential by looking in new places and recognizing the energy and dynamism that may lurk in unexpected corners, including the ubiquitous, if not fully explored, site of popular culture.

Conclusion: The Possibilities of Popular CultureToby Miller writes that cultural citizenship pierces the zone where the popular and the civic brush up against one another.82 Contemporary youth and popular culture researchers are, of course, not the first to mark this area as a critical space of action and possibility. C. L. R. James, the renowned critic and scholar, forcibly defended the popular as a central component of the political and gave it prominence in his analysis in American Civilization.83 James Baldwin similarly marked popular culture as critical political terrain.84 More recently, Andrew Ross No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers taps into the core sentiment of cultural citizenship the need to connect the privatized world of consumption to pressing public concerns about workers rights, globalization, free-trade zones, and child labor. The victories of the antisweatshop campaigns over the past five years demonstrate that it is possible to reposition private acts into public discourse.85 Benjamin Barber echoes this idea when he writes,If a privatizing ideology and a consumerist culture have turned citizens into consumers, we need to go to where the consumers are and try to turn them back into citizens. . . . If they go to the mall in search of public space and are seduced into privatized shopping behavior, we need to confront and transform the mall.86

The project suggested by Barbers insight is not solely, or even primarily, a project of critique. Instead, it is a project akin to that of youth culture researchers: to examine how people use popular culture in their everyday lives, to illuminate the connections between everyday acts and the public sphere,


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and to map the new terrain of politics that opens from this exploration. The project does not wholly give up on the state and electoral politics, but it takes seriously the reality that people rarely see themselves as agents within that arena, and that politics happens in multiple sites simultaneously. The phenomenal success of Naomi Kleins No Logo, which has become a central text of the antiglobalization movement, reveals both the incredible power of corporations, consumerism, and popular culture in our lives, and the enormous changes that are possible when youth comprehend the connections between their consumption and the exploitation of fellow human beings.87 If, as Apple observes, democracy has been reduced to consumption practices, then one of the tasks of researchers is to probe those consumption practices and work to make links back to democracy.88 Democracy cannot be imposed as a set of principles coming from above to which individuals must subscribe. It must start within the core of peoples dreams and desires, and from where people are, even if they are at the mall. For educational researchers concerned with democracy, this means that the terrain of inquiry needs to extend well beyond the schoolhouse. Education as a public sphere has severely contracted over the past two decades. The threats to its future must be met with resistance and a firm commitment to democratic public schooling that ensures equality of access and opportunity. At the same time, however, we cannot afford to ignore the popular as a site where youth are invested, where things happen, where identities and democratic possibilities are worked out, performed, and negotiated, and where new futures are written. As much as some would like us to believe that the public sphere is doomed, that privatization and neoliberalism have won, and that radical democracy will never recover, we know that cannot be true. Closure is never total; openings, cracks, and fissures always exist. By closely studying young peoples engagement with popular culture, we can tap into the existing currents of change, recognize the power of the everyday, and work to reshape and rebuild a citizenship that embraces us all.

Notes1. On pleasure and popular culture, see Lawrence Grossberg, Pedagogy in the Present: Politics, Postmodernity, and the Popular, in Popular Culture, Schooling and Everyday Life, ed. Henry Giroux and Roger Simon (Toronto: OISE Press, 1989), 91115; and Henry Giroux, Disturbing Pleasures: Learning Popular Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994). 2. Throughout this essay, I often refer to popular culture as a site. Following the work of Michel Foucault, I do this deliberately to signal, as I have written elsewhere, that popular culture . . . is not a solid, fixed object, but instead an ever-changing network of movement, which is structured by and through apparatuses of power and is itself a result of struggle. Nadine Dolby, Constructing Race: Youth, Identity, and Popular Culture in South Africa (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), 14. On Foucault, discourse, and the concept of site, see Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Pantheon, 1972).


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3. See Chris Richards, Live through This: Music, Adolescence and Autobiography, in Sound Identities: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Education, ed. Cameron McCarthy, Glenn Hudak, Shawn Miklaucic, and Paula Saukko (New York: Peter Lang, 1999), 255288. 4. Tony Bennett, The Politics of the Popular and Popular Culture, in Popular Culture and Social Relations, ed. Tony Bennett, Colin Mercer and Janet Woollacott (Milton Keynes, Eng.: Open University Press, 1980), 8. John Storey presents a more comprehensive and detailed historical overview of popular culture than is possible here in An Introductory Guide to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993). 5. Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy: An Essay in Political and Social Criticism (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1869), viii. 6. See for example, William Bennett, The Book of Virtues (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994); Henry Louis Gates, Loose Canons: Notes on the Cultural Wars (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992); E. D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987); Cameron McCarthy, Multicultural Discourses and Curriculum Reform: A Critical Perspective, Educational Theory, 44 (1994), 8198; and Cameron McCarthy, The Uses of Culture: Education and the Limits of Ethnic Affiliation (New York: Routledge, 1998). 7. On taste, see Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984). For analysis of Bourdieu and taste, see David Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997); and Mark Fenster, The Problem of Taste within the Problematic of Culture, Communication Theory, 1 (1991), 87105. 8. On the creation of high and low culture in the American context, see Lawrence Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 9. Stuart Hall, Notes on Deconstructing the Popular, in Peoples History and Socialist Theory, ed. Raphael Samuel (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), 227240. 10. Greg Dimitriadis and Cameron McCarthy, Reading and Teaching the Postcolonial: From Baldwin to Basquiat and Beyond (New York: Teachers College Press, 2001), 18. Dimitriadis and McCarthys text is an excellent introduction to postcolonial perspectives, and the relationship between art, culture, and society. The significance of critical theory (and other theoretical positions) to educational thought is thoroughly discussed in Raymond Morrow and Carlos Torres, Social Theory and Education: A Critique of Theories of Social and Cultural Reproduction (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995). 11. Theodor W. Adorno, Culture Industry Reconsidered, New German Critique, 6 (1975), 18. See also Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectics of Enlightenment (1944; rpt. New York: Herder and Herder, 1972). Horkheimer and Adornos writings on mass culture are also widely excerpted and reprinted in introductory texts and edited collections. See, for example, Nigel Gibson and Andrew Rubin, eds., Adorno: A Critical Reader (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002). 12. While the Frankfurt School of critical theory began in Germany, many of its key figures were forced to flee to the United States and elsewhere in the 1930s. 13. Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, trans. H. Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 217242. 14. See Henry Giroux, Border Crossing: Cultural Workers and the Politics of Education (New York: Routledge, 1992), particularly chapter eight, coauthored with Roger Simon. 15. As Giroux rightly notes in Border Crossing, the most significant example of this type of scholarship can be found in the Journal of Popular Culture, published by the Center for Popular Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University.


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16. Dimitriadis and McCarthy also discuss a third position, postmodernism. See Reading and Teaching the Postcolonial, 1819. 17. Hall, Notes on Deconstructing the Popular, 232. Emphasis by the author. 18. McCarthy, The Uses of Culture, 37. 19. The concept of celebration is discussed later in the essay, and in Cameron McCarthy, Glenn Hudak, Shawn Miklaucic, and Paula Saukko, Sound Identities: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Education (New York: Peter Lang, 1999). 20. On identity in cultural studies, see Stuart Hall, The Question of Cultural Identity, in Modernity and Its Futures, ed. Stuart Hall, David Held, and Anthony McGrew (Cambridge, Eng: Polity Press), 273325; Stuart Hall and Paul duGay, eds., Questions of Cultural Identity (London: Sage, 1996); and The Identity in Question, John Rajchman, ed. (London: Routledge, 1995). 21. A similar point could be made about other identifications, such as race. See Stanley Aronowitz, Reflections on Identity, in Rajchman, The Identity in Question, 111144. Lois Weis work also examines the ruptures and differences in the working class in an American context. See Working Class without Work: High School Students in a De-industrializing Economy (New York: Routledge, 1991), and, more recently, Revisiting a 1980s Moment of Critique: Class, Gender and the New Economy, paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, April 2002. 22. E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1980). 23. Raymond Williams is perhaps the most influential scholar of this century in the field of cultural studies. A full examination of his work is beyond the scope of this essay. See, for example, The Long Revolution (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1965) and Culture and Society (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1963). In addition to the work of Williams and Thompson, Richard Hoggarts The Uses of Literacy (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1965) is also considered a founding text of cultural studies. 24. Most notably, Stuart Hall, Dick Hebdige, Tony Bennett, and Henry Giroux. See, for example, Hall, Notes on Deconstructing the Popular; Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen, 1970); Bennett, Introduction: Popular Culture and the Turn to Gramsci, in Popular Culture and Social Relations, ed. Tony Bennett, Colin Mercer, and Janet Woollacott (Milton Keynes, Eng.: Open University Press, 1980), xixix; Henry Giroux, Rethinking Cultural Politics and Radical Pedagogy in the Work of Antonio Gramsci, Educational Theory, 49 (1999), 119. Gramsci was also a primary influence on the work of scholars associated with the Birmingham School, discussed later in this article. The literature on Gramsci is extensive, and has been influential in the vast majority of fields in the social sciences and humanities. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe are perhaps the most prominent Gramscian scholars. Among other publications, see Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso, 2001). Gramscis own writings have been published and reprinted in numerous publications, most prominently, Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1970). See also David Forgacs, ed., An Antonio Gramsci Reader (New York: Schocken, 1988), and David Forgacs and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, eds., Antonio Gramsci: Selections from Cultural Writings (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1970). 25. Within cultural studies, this type of analysis is often referred to as articulation. See Jennifer Daryl Stack, The Theory and Method of Articulation in Cultural Studies, in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, ed. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen (London: Routledge, 1996), 112127; and Lawrence Grossberg, On Postmodernism and Articulation: Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies, also in Morley and Chen, Stuart Hall, 131150.


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Grossberg, Pedagogy in the Present, 94. Bennett, Introduction: Popular Culture and the Turn to Gramsci, xvi. Hall, Notes on Deconstructing the Popular, 235. Hall, Notes on Deconstructing the Popular, 235. In religion, for example, see Wade Roof, Spiritual Marketplace (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999); and Marjorie Garber and Rebecca Walkowitz, eds., One Nation Under God: Religion and American Culture (New York: Routledge, 1999). The literature in English is extensive, and includes a significant percentage of the field of cultural studies. For examples, see Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula Treichler, eds., Cultural Studies (New York: Routledge, 1992); and Rob Nixon, Homelands, Harlem and Hollywood: South African Culture and the World Beyond (New York: Routledge, 1994). bell hooks has also published widely on popular culture, including Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992) and Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representation (New York: Routledge, 1994). Girls culture has also become a significant focus in the field of English, though collected works often span the humanities. See, for example, Sherrie A. Inness, ed., Millennium Girls: Todays Girls around the World (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998). Much of the writing on popular culture in history can be located in the growing field of consumer culture studies. See, for example, Lawrence Glickman, ed., Consumer Society in American History: A Reader (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999). The Journal of Popular Culture also often includes historical analysis of popular culture. See also George Lipsitz, Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990). Three strong collections that span several fields are Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley, and Sherry Ortner, eds., Culture/Power/ History: A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994); Gina Dent, ed., Black Popular Culture (Seattle: Bay Press, 1992); and Andrew Ross and Tricia Rose, eds., Microphone Fiends: Youth Music & Youth Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994). Significant journals in the field include Cultural Studies; Social Text; Public Culture; Media, Culture, and Society; Screen; and New Formation. 31. A representative sample of Girouxs work includes Disturbing Pleasures, Fugitive Cultures: Race, Violence, and Youth (New York: Routledge, 1996); Impure Acts: The Practical Politics of Cultural Studies (New York: Routledge, 2000); The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999); Channel Surfing: Racism, the Media, and the Destruction of Todays Youth (New York: St. Martins Press, 1997); and Doing Cultural Studies: Youth and the Challenge of Pedagogy, Harvard Educational Review, 64 (1994), 278307. 32. Shirley Steinberg and Joe Kincheloe, eds., Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997); McCarthy, The Uses of Culture; McCarthy, et al., eds., Sound Identities: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Education; Giroux and Simon, eds., Popular Culture, Schooling, and Everyday Life; McCarthy et al., Danger in the Safety Zone: Notes on Race, Resentment, and the Discourse of Crime, Violence and Suburban Security, Cultural Studies, 11 (1997), 272295; Anne Haas Dyson, Writing Superheroes (New York: Teachers College Press, 1997) and The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write: Popular Literacies in Childhood and School Cultures (New York: Teachers College Press, 2002) (see also Dyson in this issue); and Peter McLaren, Rethinking Media Literacy: A Critical Pedagogy of Representation (New York: Peter Lang, 1995). See also James Schwoch, Mimi White, and Susan Reilly, Media Knowledge: Readings in Popular Culture, Pedagogy, and Critical Citizenship (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992). Though not located solely in the field of education, both Angela McRobbie and Douglas Kellner have had significant influence on educational scholars. See McRobbie, Postmodernism and Popular Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994) and Back to Reality? Social Experience and Cultural Studies (New York: St. Martins Press, 1997), and Kellner, Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity, and Politics between the Modern and the

26. 27. 28. 29. 30.


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33. 34.



37. 38.





Postmodern (New York: Routledge, 1995) (see also Trend in this issue). There is also, of course, a significant emphasis on the analysis of popular culture in media and communication studies. See, for example, Marsha Kinder, ed., Kids Media Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999) and Buckingham in this volume. Paul Willis, Common Culture (Milton Keynes, Eng.: Open University Press, 1990), 147. Anxiety critics can be found across the political spectrum in the United States, not just among conservatives. For example, mainstream liberal Democrat Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center attempted to regulate rock music in the 1980s. See Jonathan Sterne, Going Public: Rock Aesthetics in the American Political Field, in McCarthy et al., Sound Identities, 289313. From the perspective of the Left, anxiety is evident in some of the essays in Steinberg and Kincheloe, Kinderculture, and in the journal Rethinking Schools. Anxiety is not an irrelevant perspective, particularly when it is connected to larger structural issues. However, the discovery of racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression in popular culture is no longer news, and it appears that critique is doing little to actually change that reality. Grossberg and others argue that this suggests that reality is messier and more complicated than anxiety positions allow. For a sustained discussion of the various theoretical positions exemplified in Sound Identities, see Nadine Dolbys book review of Sound Identities: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Education, Harvard Educational Review, 71 (2001), 742751. John Fiske is often cited as an example of the celebratory, noncritical approach to the study of popular culture. See, for example, Understanding Popular Culture (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989). For an example of this type of analysis, see Greg Dimitriadis and Cameron McCarthy, Stranger in the Village: James Baldwin, Popular Culture, and the Ties that Bind, Qualitative Inquiry, 6 (2000), 171187. Janice Radway, Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984). See Ien Ang, Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination (London: Methuen, 1985). Similar analyses abound in journals such as Media, Culture, and Society and Cultural Studies. Stuart Hall, Encoding and Decoding in the Media Discourse, Stencilled Paper, 7 (Birmingham, Eng.: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, 1973). The essay has been reprinted in numerous collections, including Simon During, ed., The Cultural Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 1993), 90103. See, for example, The Delinquents: Censorship and Youth Culture in Recent U.S. History, History of Education Quarterly, 37 (1997), 251270. In addition to delinquency, there was concern that youth cultural practices would lead to moral trangressions, such as premaritial and interracial sexual relationships. The history of rocknroll is certainly one instance of this. See Michael Sturma, The Politics of Dancing: When RocknRoll Came to Australia, Journal of Popular Culture, 25 (1992), 123146. As Sturma argues, rocknroll was seen as transgressive until the arrival of television, which domesticated the music and associated practices. An excellent visual resource that describes, analyzes, and represents the range of subculture styles throughout the twentieth century is Ted Polhemus, Streetstyle: From Sidewalk to Catwalk (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994). Originally written as a companion to the exhibit Streetstyle at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 19941995, the book is an invaluable overview of forty youth subculture styles from zoot suits to technos and cyberpunks. The book also includes a visual timeline and further reading on each subculture. Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Routledge, 1979); Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson, eds., Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain (Milton Keynes, Eng.: Open University Press, 1975). For a comprehensive overview of


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43. 44. 45.

46. 47.


49. 50.



53. 54.

the field of youth culture research in the British and European context, see Christine Griffin, Imagining New Narratives of Youth: Youth Research, the New Europe and Global Youth Culture, Childhood, 8 (2001), 147166. From an anthropological perspective, see Mary Bucholzs literature review, Youth and Cultural Practice, Annual Review of Anthropology, 31 (2002), 525552. Griffin, Imagining New Narratives of Youth, 148. See Polhemus, Streetstyle. A representative collection, which encompasses multiple fields, genres, and theoretical perspectives, is Ken Gelder and Sarah Thornton, eds., The Subcultures Reader (London: Routledge, 1997). Rooted in the Birmingham School, Gelder and Thornton also anthologize writings by the Chicago School and link its tradition of sociological research to youth subculture analysis. Paul Willis, Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs (Farnborough, Eng.: Saxon House, 1977). Angela McRobbie, Feminism and Youth Culture: From Jackie to Just Seventeen (London: Macmillan, 1991); Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber, Girls and Subcultures, in Resistance through Rituals, ed. Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson (Milton Keynes, Eng.: Open University Press, 1975), 209222. Christine Griffins study, Typical Girls? Young Women from School to the Job Market (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985), followed closely on the publication of Willis Learning to Labour. In the United States, Lois Weis Working Class without Work examined the lives of working-class youth in a markedly different economic environment than the one studied by Willis. For overviews of contemporary youth culture research, see Verad Amit and Helena Wulff, Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (London: Routledge, 1995); and Tracey Skelton and Gill Valentine, Cool Places: Geographies of Youth Culture (London: Routledge, 1997). A contemporary example of subculture research is Sarah Thornton, Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subculture Capital (Oxford, Eng.: Polity Press, 1995). Christine Griffins Representations of Youth: The Study of Youth and Adolescence in Britain and America (Oxford, Eng.: Polity Press, 1993) also provides a useful introduction. For a historical perspective on American youth cultures, see Joe Austin and Micheal Nevin Willard, eds., Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-Century America (New York: New York University Press, 1998), and Sherrie A. Inness, ed., Delinquents and Debutantes: Twentieth-Century American Girls Culture (New York: New York University Press, 1998). Willis, Common Culture, 136. See Griffin, Imagining New Narratives of Youth, for discussion. In short, both poststructuralism and postmodernism questioned the master narratives that underlie Marxism and other systems of analysis, and the search for truth in the social sciences. Ethnographic and qualitative research was further shaken by postcolonial challenges to the validity of studying the other, and questions about the legitimacy of the researchers voice and perspective. These issues continue to be valid and important challenges to social science research today. Lawrence Grossberg, Identity and Cultural Studies: Is That All There Is? in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996), 100. In this case, democracy was unavailable as many voters, largely African American, were denied the right to vote. Such patterns of discrimination and limited democratic access have a long history in American politics. Cornel West, Race Matters (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 19. For critiques of liberal democratic theory, discussions of radical democratic theory, and comparisons between the two, see Anna Marie Smith, Laclau and Mouffe: The Radical Democratic Imaginary (London: Routledge, 1998), Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic


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58. 59. 60.


62. 63. 64. 65. 66.


Paradox (London: Verso, 2000), and David Trend, Radical Democracy: Identity, Citizenship, and the State (New York: Routledge, 1996), especially Chantal Mouffe, Radical Democracy or Liberal Democracy? 1926. Marshall was concerned with the expansion of social rights and argued that, in order to actively participate in society, all citizens have a right to basic needs, without which they cannot exercise their civil and political rights. See Martin Bulmer and Anthony Rees, eds., Citizenship Today: The Contemporary Relevance of T. H. Marshall (London: UCL Press, 1996). For a basic introduction to citizenship in Western societies, see Keith Faulks, Citizenship (London: Routledge, 2000). On citizenship and globalization, see Stephen Castles and Alastair Davidson, Citizenship and Migration: Globalization and the Politics of Belonging (New York: Routledge, 2000); Jeremy Brecher, John Brown Childs, and Jill Cutler, eds., Global Visions: Beyond the New World Order (Boston: South End Press, 1993); and Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, eds., Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998). Cutbacks in social services and state funding are part of the ascendancy of neoliberalism. For a discussion of neoliberalism in relationship to education, see Michael Apple, Educating the Right Way: Markets, Standards, God, and Inequality (New York: Routledge, 2001), and Henry Giroux, Educated Hope in an Age of Privatized Visions, Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, 2 (2002), 93112. Much of the writing on globalization and education also addresses the global retreat of the state from its commitment to social rights. See Nicholas Burbules and Carlos Torres, eds., Globalization and Education: Critical Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2000), and Globalization and Education: Integration and Contestation across Cultures (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). Katharyne Mitchell, Education for Democratic Citizenship: Transnationalism, Multiculturalism, and the Limits of Liberalism, Harvard Educational Review, 71 (2001), 5178. Peggy Levitt, The Transnational Villagers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001). Henry Giroux, for example, has argued this point in numerous publications, as have numerous other authors. See references in notes 22 and 23. Quoted in David Trend, Cultural Democracy: Politics, Media, New Technology (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), 3. See also Chantal Mouffe, Radical Democracy or Liberal Democracy? in Radical Democracy: Identity, Citizenship, and the State, ed. David Trend (New York: Routledge, 1996). Toby Miller, Technologies of Truth: Cultural Citizenship and the Popular Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), and Exchange-Value Citizenship, Social Text, 56 (1997), 4348. Cindy Patton and Robert L. Caserio, Introduction: Citizenship 2000, Cultural Studies, 14 (2000), 1. Levitt, Transnational Villagers, 19. See Michael Apple, Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2000), xiii, and Apple, Educating the Right Way. Greg Kot, Who Sells Out? Chicago Tribune, October 6, 2002, Sec. 7, p. 9, West Suburban edition. See Lizabeth Cohen, Citizens and Consumers in the United States in the Century of Mass Consumption, in The Politics of Consumption: Material Culture and Citizenship in Europe and America, ed. Martin Daunton and Matthew Hilton (Oxford, Eng.: Berg Press, 2001), 203221. The example of the National Consumers League is drawn from Kathryn Kish Sklars work, among others. Meg Jacobs, The Politics of Plenty in the Twentieth-Century United States, in Daunton and Hilton, The Politics of Consumption, 223239.


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68. There is a vast literature on consumption, society, and democracy. For a representative historical collection, see Lawrence Glickman, ed., Consumer Society in American History: A Reader (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999). A strong collection of key works in consumption studies is Juliet B. Schor and Douglas B. Holt, eds., The Consumer Society Reader (New York: New Press, 2000). For a global perspective, see David Howes, ed., Cross-Cultural Consumption: Global Markets, Local Realities (London: Routledge, 1996). For an approach grounded in cultural studies, see Hugh Mackay, ed., Consumption and Everyday Life (London: Sage, 1997). 69. See Henry Giroux, Impure Acts: The Practical Politics of Cultural Studies (Routledge: New York, 2000), and Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 19721977 (New York: Pantheon, 1980). 70. Jacobs, The Politics of Plenty, 203221. 71. Apple, Educating the Right Way, 6365. On the concept of gritty materialities, Apple observes, While the construction of new theories and utopian visions is important, it is equally critical to base these theories and visions in an unromantic appraisal of the material and discursive terrain that now exists (p. 64). 72. I use examples that focus on race, as that is one of my areas of research and scholarship. However, one can certainly find parallel examples in other arenas. 73. Harvard Educational Review editorial policy is to capitalize racial identifiers such as White, Black, and Coloured. From my perspective, such a practice perpetuates the reification of race and fails to engage the historical, political, social, and cultural contingencies of power that surround the concept. While I encourage the HER Editorial Board to reconsider this policy, usage in this article reflects their current practice. I express a similar concern in my book review essay of Sound Identities: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Education, Harvard Educational Review, 71 (2001), 742751, as does Wendy Luttrell in her article, Good Enough Methods for Ethnographic Research, Harvard Educational Review, 79 (2000), 499523. 74. For a more developed discussion of Pamela Perry, Greg Dimitriadis, and Sunaina Mairas research, see Nadine Dolby, Youth, Culture, and Identity: Ethnographic Explorations, Educational Researcher, 31 (2002), 3742. And see Perry, Shades of White (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002); Maira, Desis in the House (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002); and Dimitriadis, Performing Identity/Performing Culture (New York: Peter Lang, 2001); Amy Bests Prom Night: Youth, Schools, and Popular Culture (New York: Routledge, 2000); Amira Prowellers Constructing Female Identities: Meaning Making in an Upper Middle Class Youth Culture (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998) and Kathleen Hall, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) are other recent books that similarly look at youths cultural practices as productive spaces of democracy. See also Arun Saldanha, Music, Space, Identity: Geographies of Youth Culture in Bangalore, Cultural Studies, 16 (2002), 332350. 75. Perry, Shades of White, 124. 76. George Lipsitz examines this critical dynamic in his book, Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism, and the Poetics of Place (London: Verso, 1994). 77. For more detailed discussions of my research at Fernwood, see Nadine Dolby, Constructing Race: Youth, Identity, and Popular Culture in South Africa (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001); Changing Selves: Multicultural Education and the Challenge of New Identities, Teachers College Record, 102 (2000), 898912; and Making White: Constructing Race in a South African High School, Curriculum Inquiry 32 (2002), 729. 78. Rave has its roots in the acid house dance club culture of the 1980s in Britain. By the mid-1990s, rave arrives in Fernwood and it becomes a site of public racial negotiation


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80. 81.

82. 83.

84. 85. 86.

87. 88. 89.

among young people. Rave is often portrayed historically as a genre of music favored by White youth, although it has its roots