Deakin University

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Cultural studies and education: reflecting on differences, impacts, effects and change

journal contribution
posted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by Julian Sefton-GreenJulian Sefton-Green
Based on experiences and research at virtually all levels of the English education system I will argue that we can observe the ‘impact’ of Cultural Studies on the forms and practices of Education as a system and as institutions as well as at the more micro-levels of individual learning and even theories of learning itself. These ‘impacts’ will be analysed along three dimensions: the institutionalisation and/or incorporation of school subjects (like Media Studies); the way Cultural Studies has been used to frame an offer of schooling to resistant and disengaged youth; and the ways in which arts-type, practical and informal forms of pedagogy have supported identity-based theories of learning. I will use examples of each type of impact to explore each level of effect.

My interest is in reflecting on how transformative these impacts have been. Do they pose lasting types of change or have they been incorporated by the status quo given the imperviousness of schooling to successive waves of educational reform? How have the more radical kinds of critique contained in Cultural Studies methods, thinking and approaches been absorbed at the different levels of the education system and at what cost and to whom?

The final section of the paper will consider practical and theoretical prospects for future versions of Cultural Studies and Education. At the policy level I will question whether there are insuperable barriers within the forms of new public management in education or changes in labour market needs as determined by the economics of the knowledge economy in new times which will militate against such interventions – or (within the framework of current politics) can we imagine consistent system-wide effects of radical change? I will end by considering whether the destiny of Cultural Studies is to repeat its marginalised academic status as critique or ‘system-irritant’ or whether we could envisage a theoretical way of scaling up and mainstreaming how Cultural Studies works.



Cultural studies






55 - 70


Taylor & Francis


Abingdon, Eng.







Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2011, Taylor & Francis