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Flynn_1A03_2012_Lecture 23 Hebdige and Conquergood.docx

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McMaster University
Communication Studies
Terry Flynn

LECTURE NO 23 CMST 1A03 INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNICATION DR. TERRY FLYNN Hebdige: From Culture to Hegemony • ▯ What is culture? It has two meanings: • o A normative, classical and conservative meaning: “Opera is high culture.” This meaning shapes our tastes and tells us what is aesthetically pleasing. • o An interpretive, anthropological meaning: “Culture is the way we live.” This meaning observes the meanings and values we use, in everyday life, not only in high culture. • ▯ This dual meaning made it difficult for Cultural Studies to define itself as a field, at first. The First shift was in the work of Roland Barthes: • ▯ Barthes: Myths and signs • o Barthes thought that all the apparently spontaneous forms and rituals of a culture are subject to a systematic distortion and could be converted into myths. • o Barthes vision of culture extends past the library and high culture to include everyday life. • o Barthes wanted his “science of signs” – based on linguistics – to bridge the gulf between the “alienated intellectual” and the “culture of everyman”. • ▯ Ideology: A lived relation • o Ideology is profoundly unconscious and thus it pervades the semantics of our everyday speech. Social relations between people are made appropriate by the way in which they are represented to those individuals. Common sense presents certain roles as appropriate or “just as things ought to be” and reinforces the ideology underlying those roles. • o Dominant discourses promote and reinforce the ideologies of dominant groups. • ▯ Hegemony: The Moving Equilibrium • o Gramsci’s theory of hegemony says that hegemony refers to a situation in which a provisional alliance of certain social groups can exert ‘total social authority’ over other subordinate groups. • o This is done not by physical coercion but by winning the consent of the subordinating groups by making them accept the dominant discourse. Hebdige’s Main Point: The role of the intellectual is to uncover the hidden ideologies which support hegemony. To do careful readings of cultural items and to use those readings to free the oppressed. Sometime the oppressed are agreeing to their own oppression because they have been tricked to consent to being oppressed. This is hegemony at work. Culture can reinforce hegemony. The intellectual should try to bring to light that reinforcement. Conquergood Communication Studies as Radical Research • ▯ “What the map cu
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