Silencing the everyday experiences of youth? Deconstructing issues of subjectivity and popular/corporate culture in the English classroom

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Abstract

This paper investigates the influence of popular/corporate culture texts and discourses on the subjectivities and everyday social experiences of young people, and the extent to which such influences are critically analysed in the English classroom. I present two levels of synthesised information using data analysis born of a mixed-methods postgraduate research project with a group of 15- and 16-year-old high school students in Perth, Australia. First, I argue that popular culture texts position young people to assume subjectivities that are heavily informed by the ideologies and discourses of popular/corporate culture. Moreover, I argue that young people's social currency is often defined by the extent to which individuals demonstrate an alliance to such ideologies and discourses, and that individuals who deviate from popular norms experience subjugation and exclusion within peer and social settings. Second, I deal pedagogically with subject English and areas of it that hold relevance in terms of the integration and analysis of 'the popular'. I argue that many students feel their teachers are 'out of touch' with the everyday realities of young people and their popular culture influences, and that there is a lack of commitment by teachers to critically analyse popular culture texts in the classroom. The paper concludes by arguing that such failures risk producing students whose everyday experiences are silenced and who are denied the critical learning spaces necessary to deconstruct the ways they are positioned to adopt certain subjectivities. Moreover, critical and progressive pedagogical praxis need to be further deployed by educators in order to effectively analyse the relationship between youth subjectivities and popular/corporate culture discourses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalDiscourse: studies in the cultural politics of education
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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