What Is Cultural Studies Anyway?
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Cultural studies is now a movement or a network. It has its own degrees in
several colleges and universities and its own journals and meetings. It exercises a large
influence on academic disciplines, especially on English studies, sociology, media and communication studies, linguistics and history. In the first part of the article, I want to consider some of the arguments for and against the academic codification of cultural studies. To put the question most sharply: should cultural studies aspire to be an academic discipline? In the second part, I'll look at some strategies of definition short of codification, because a lot hangs, I think, on the kind of unity or coherence we seek. Finally, I want to try out some of my own preferred definitions and arguments.
commodities. The conditions of production include not merely the material means of production and the capitalist organisation of labour, but a stock of already existing cultural elements drawn from the reservoirs of lived culture or from the already public fields of discourse. This raw material is structured not only by capitalist production imperatives (i.e., commodified) but also by the indirect results of capitalist and other social relations on the existing rules of language and discourse,
do not have to bound our research by literary criteria; other choices are available. It is possible for instance to take "issues" or periods as the main criterion. Though restricted by their choice of rather "masculine" genre and media, Policing the Crisis and Unpopular Education are studies of this kind. They hinge around a basically historical definition, examining aspects of the rise of the new right mainly from the early 1970s. The logic of this approach has been extended in recent CCCS
follow. If we have progressed by critique, are there not dangers that codifications will involve systematic closure? If the momentum is to strive for really useful knowledge, will academic codification help this? Is not the priority to become more "popular" rather than more academic? These questions gain further force from immediate contexts. Cultural studies is now a widely taught subject, thus, unless we are very careful, students will encounter it as an orthodoxy. In any case, students now
clear what all this productivity actually produces. There is no real theory of subjectivity here, partly because the explanandum, the "object" of such a theory, remains to be specified. In particular there is no account of the carry-over or continuity of self-identities from one discursive moment to the next, such as a re-theorisation of memory in discursive terms might permit. Since there is no account of continuities or of what remains constant or accumulative, there is no account of structural
her contribution in opening up these questions in relation to "epic," and to Graham Dawson for discussions on masculinity, war, and boy culture. 35. Especially those developing out of the work of M.A.K. Halliday which includes the "critical linguistics" group. For Halliday see Gunther Kress (ed.), Halliday: System and Function in Language (Oxford University Press, 1976). 36. See especially the long, largely unpublished critique of Screen by the CCCS Media Group, 1977-78. Parts of this appear in