Communications and Cultural Analysis: A Religious View

By Michael Warren | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Cultural Production as an Avenue
to Cultural Analysis

In the previous chapters, we have seen that culture, as a signifying system producing and reproducing a social order, exercises powerful influence in the lives of all. The signifying power of electronically reproduced images influences the imagination, especially of children and young people. Perhaps Stanley Aronowitz accurately names the extent of this influence.

In the last half of the twentieth century, the degree to which mass audience culture has colonized the social space available to the ordinary person for reading, discussions, and critical thought must be counted as the major event of social history in our time. Television, film, and photography, far from making culture democratic, have fostered the wide dissemination of industrialized entertainment so that the capacity of persons to produce their own culture in the widest meaning of the term has become restricted. 1

In this situation, the churches are concerned about imaginations of the meaning of life that counter their own religious vision. For the churches and others, such as parents, their work in maintaining their distinctive vision of reality involves finding forms of cultural agency. These include becoming aware of the various versions of reality being offered us, especially through electronic narratives, becoming adept at judging these narratives, and proposing our alternative versions and narratives. A definition of culture as an active process of signifying, such as the one Williams proposes, invites cultural agency, because it invites us to investigate how the process works.

So far I have often adverted to the importance of cultural production for helping us see how culture actually works. In this chapter I seek to explain

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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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