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Dr. Mookerjea - Cultural Studies 13
Dr. Mookerjea - Cultural Studies 13

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University of Alberta
Sourayan Mookerjea

SOCIOLOGY 345 MEANING If we know how meaning is produced we have some critical insight into the way we are being swallowed up by manufactured myth. Our identities, desires, wants are being engineered and constructed for us and we msut existentially and critically negotiate this complex terrain we now live in. The goal is to produce some other kind of cultural space for people to construct their identies in. A space that mediates relations without being hierarchical or sexist, or racist, etc. Cultural Studies' project has been to look at the manufacture of identities. BARTHES - How something means what it means, below its content. How does a code generate its messages. MCLUHAN - Form over content. The message of any media is another media. So McLuhan's work is also formalist in this kind of way but he steps beyond it. Canada as culture environment for example asks not just how media works but the politics of cultural identity. how do you live in a world-environment constructed by others (americans, capitalists)? FOUCAULT - Moves from strictly formalism towards a politics of knowledge per se. This is a key difference between semiotics and foucault's later work (discursive analysis). - France in the 60s: Foucault on the one hand is responding to the construction of a welfare state managing all kinds of social problems, the state developing all kinds of new institutions that deal with the problem that the 20th century and wars and capitalism has actually produced. we get new kinds of knowledge/expertise that purport to be able to speak to these problems. On one level this is a wonderful thing, but this could also appear as a chilling dystopia. The whole business of having your experience and self-consciousness hemmed in and or produced by the expertise and discourse of others. We think we are making our own decisions but they are actually being governed from without, and without our knowledge. Foucault's work is a response to the first phase of this: responding to the growing importance of expertise. he points out that there is a politics to all this discourse, and a lot of assumptions. Labeling theory - you have experts going around and labeling people things like youth-at-risk and that becomes an objective category out there at work in the social world. people start to understand you as a youth-at-risk and you turn into one because that is how everyone will treat you. It is self-fulfilling prophesies. Foucault says that power doesn't just work from a central point radiating down oppressively. He thinks that liberal theories of power have always focused on who has the most power and what are the laws and rules, but he says "POWER IS EVERYWHERE." You can understand this as a dystopia that you can't escape or you can think of it as an empowerment of everyone. Foucault's work is caught in this middle ground of interpretation. Most people interpret this in the former, the dark dystopian way. But you could also see power as mediating social relations, so we are political beings with the potential to be empowered, or you can see us as dominated and unable to escape. ALTHUSSER - sees IDEOLOGY as a way society reproduces himself. turns ideology from an epistemological problem to a question of how we construct our identities. ideology is no longer a question of errors we have in our heads but a question of how we see who we are in relation to other people in the world. but nevertheless there is an aspect of ideology as error in your mind that is gainful for us to account for because we do decieve ourselves about ourselves in relatin to oth
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