Communications and Cultural Analysis: A Religious View

By Michael Warren | Go to book overview

in a sense subjective, are actually quite objectively produced by the social conditions of particular classes. 30 Bourdieu explores how structures can be patterned into a person's way of being--without being consciously accessible to the person.

The principles embodied in [the habitus] . . . are placed beyond the grasp of consciousness, and hence cannot be touched by voluntary deliberate transformation, cannot even be made explicit; nothing seems more ineffable, more incommunicable, more inimitable, and, therefore, more precious, than the values given body, made body by the transubstantiation achieved by the hidden persuasion of an implicit pedagogy, capable of instilling a whole cosmology, an ethic, a metaphysics, a political philosophy, through injunctions as insignificant as "stand up straight," as "don't hold your knife in your hand." 31

Bourdieu seems deterministic in describing the stubbornness of these dispositions and their inaccessibility to thought. I presume he intends to say, much as Paulo Freire does, that the taken-for-granted is ordinarily not questioned except through careful steps that disclose how it is socially constructed. The sort of cultural agency needed to map those steps will involve hard work, because the way modern communication functions is complex, and the way its meaning comes to reside in us is subtle. Bourdieu's writings, like those of Williams, represent just such an attempt to disclose the social construction of culture. 32

The following chapters on production and on images will offer educators, both church- and non-church-related, some clues as to how they can work with critical demystification through cultural analysis.


NOTES
1.
John Kavanaugh, "Capitalist Culture as a Religious and Educational Formation System," Religious Education 78, no. 1 (Winter 1983): 50-60, at 50. I summarize and paraphrase many sections of this essay.
2.
Here I am following an early section of Michael Apple, "Reproduction, Contestation, and Curriculum: An Essay in Self-Criticism," Interchange 12, no. 2-3 ( 1981): 27-47.
3.
Michael F. D. Young, "An Approach to the Study of Curricula as Socially Organized Knowledge," in M. F. D. Young, ed., Knowledge and Control ( London: Collier Macmillan, 1971), p. 32. An overview of the thinking behind this literature is Henry A. Giroux, "Theories of Reproduction and Resistance in the New Sociology of Education: A Critical Analysis," Harvard Educational Review 53, no. 3 ( 1985): 257-93.
4.
An example might be the way the U.S. utilities spent millions of dollars each year in the 1980s constructing school curricula or curricular materials on

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Communications and Cultural Analysis: A Religious View
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Note xvi
  • Chapter 1 the Problem of Popular Culture 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 2 What is Culture? 23
  • Notes 39
  • Chapter 3 Cultural Reproduction Among the Young 43
  • Notes 53
  • Chapter 4 Cultural Production as an Avenue to Cultural Analysis 59
  • Notes 86
  • Chapter 5 a Theory of Images in Cultural Systems 91
  • Notes 109
  • Chapter 6 Metaphoric Images as Signifiers 113
  • Notes 124
  • Chapter 7: Hegemony and the Possibilities of Contestation 127
  • Bibliography 149
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 163
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