AND THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE
by Joe Kincheloe and Shirley Steinberg, Changing Multiculturalism
(Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 1997)
|This rather long but nicely written essay addresses many of the problems we will be discussing over the next few weeks. If you can't finish it before the next class (February 6), try to read it over the following week. You will probably find many of its ideas useful when you write your paper at the end of the course.|
The curriculum of erasure: power as cultural imperialism
Power erasure - which often is accompanied by racial/colour evasion - exerts a reactionary and oppressive influence in late twentieth-century Western societies. Such erasure often leads individuals from dominant race, class and gender groups into an uncritical complicity with socio-political structural power asymmetries and cultural manifestations of inequality. Indeed, liberal and pluralist multiculturalists can embrace particular aspects of cultural diversity and at the same time leave power hierarchies invisible and hence intact. The liberal notion of sameness - the we-all-bleed-red mind-set - serves as an excellent form of power and racial erasure. In the larger context shaped by liberalism the view of schools as neutral sites that reflect the Western principles of equal opportunity extends the illusion of power's invisibility and irrelevance.
In elementary and secondary social studies curriculum, for example, erasure takes the form of the exclusion of knowledge that fails to justify dominant institutional arrangements and white middle and upper-middle class modes of conduct and deportment. In curriculum guides, textbooks and other social studies materials one is hard pressed to find reference to social conflict, social injustice or oppression structured along lines of race, class or gender. Dominant themes in these materials often emphasize social harmony and cultural consensus - everyone gets along, decisions are made for the good of all and no one dissents. Even social studies texts that reference `controversial issues' erase social conflict and the unequal power relations  that construct them. No curricular domain is exempt from such dynamics. In vocational education questions concerning the power and status aspects of particular jobs are not addressed. For example, the reasons why particular jobs merit low pay, thus reflecting the low worth dominant society relegates to the people who perform them, are not discussed. In this way dominant power's capacity to denigrate particular workers - no matter how adeptly they perform their tasks - is naturalized.
Thus, in these examples we see the efforts of the power bloc to make light of perceptions of socio-economic, cultural and political differences and to emphasize consensus. Issues of socioeconomic, cultural and political difference involve disparities of material, discursive and knowledge-related resources and, of course, power. Therefore, difference becomes a register of conflict that when broadcast reminds individuals outside the power bloc of their place in the world. The interests of power blocs are not served by the marginalized's consciousness of their marginalization. At the same time, interestingly, such silence about power and conflict also enculturates members of groups that fall within the parameters of particular power blocs (middle and upper-middle class white people, for example) to be blind to their own privilege. By ignoring the relation of difference to power, institutions, such as schools, media, churches and many others, pass whiteness, middle-classness and maleness off as normal. Typically (but not always in the 1990s) depicting such ways of being as normal and not superior, the dominant culture achieves status as common-sensical, safe and non-threatening. Members of the dominant culture are protected from the subjugated knowledge of whiteness, for example, as a power force that often terrorizes the non-white (Simon et al. 1991; hooks 1992; Frankenberg 1993).
The traditional dominant cultural tactic of blaming the victim is another manifestation of the power bloc's erasure of power. In the public political conversation carried by the media, victim blaming constitutes a major theme, as commentators consistently ascribe the cause of African American poverty to teenage pregnancy, to middle class black flight and to black male immorality. Such a strategy has successfully served to erase the role of power by diverting analysis of hidden forms of racism and white supremacy that shape institutions and deny blacks equal participation in all realms of the society. Modernist educational psychology lends a scientific stamp of approval to this victim-blaming process by relegating the poor and non-whites' lowly state and even alleged criminal tendencies to genetic causes not to the discriminatory dispositions of institutional centres of power. In the economic realm students and the public at large are taught by schools and the media that capitalist societies offer forms of freedom unknown in other societies. Workers have the freedom, the narrative contends, to contract or not contract with employers, and anyone at any time can choose to open a business in our free enterprise system. With such universal economic freedom, there  is no possibility in Western democracies of economic domination. Those who are poor simply have not worked hard enough or taken advantage of the endless opportunities that exist. Indeed, it is their own fault - no reference to power structures or oppressive social conditions is necessary in the curriculum of erasure (McLaren 1994a; Fraser 1995).
This erasure of power is one feature of what is often labelled cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism involves the employment of one social group's experience as the norm for everyone. In this context, the power bloc consolidates its ability to regulate subordinate groups by framing their differences as deficiencies. Working most efficiently when members of oppressed groups internalize the dominant group's view of them, cultural imperialism renders invisible the perspectives of the marginalized while concurrently stereotyping them and designating them as `other'. Such a process highlights the culturally imperialistic power bloc's capacity for making meaning for the society at large. Such power is a form of hermeneutic domination that privileges the experiences, values, cultural capital and viewpoints of the dominant group. As it invisibly exerts its effects, cultural imperialism shapes the social role of the disempowered. In such a context, for example, family values become whatever best reflects the preferred familial structure of the dominant group; marginalized family structures, no matter how well they might work for those living within them, are deemed pathological by the power bloc. In the process the culturally different are further dehumanized, creating a vicious circle that justifies even more inhumane treatment of them (Young 1992; McLaren 1994a). Critical multiculturalism induces the power bloc to see the invisible, to confront its cultural imperialism. As it monitors the dominant culture from below, critical multiculturalism provides a picture of power from the perspective of the oppressed - a subjugated knowledge of power (Fiske 1993).
studies and critical multiculturalism: new insights into power and democracy
Cultural studies is an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and sometimes counter-disciplinary field that functions within the dynamics of competing definitions of culture. Unlike anthropology, for example, cultural studies has emerged via the analysis of contemporary industrial societies. Cornel West (1993) argues that cultural studies involves (or at least should) the analysis of lived experience of various groups and individuals in late twentiethcentury capitalist societies. Dedicated to this notion of diversity, cultural studies refuses the equation of culture with high culture; instead, cultural studies asserts that myriad expressions of cultural production should be analysed in relation to other cultural dynamics and social and historical  structures. Such a position commits cultural studies to a pot pourri of artistic, religious, political, economic, racial, gender and communicative activities. In this context, it is important to note that while cultural studies is associated with the study of popular culture, it is not primarily about popu lar culture. Cultural studies interests are much broader and tend generally to involve the production and nature of the rules of inclusivity and exclusivity that guide academic inquiry and evaluation - in particular, the way these rules shape and are shaped by relations of power. Because of this concern with power and the political, cultural studies offers critical multiculturalists not only a new perspective on cultural dynamics but a moral and political vision in a world of pain, suffering and a loss of hope.
Advocates of cultural studies believe that the study of culture is fragmented among a variety of disciplines (e.g. sociology, anthropology, history, literary studies, communications) to the point that communication between scholars is undermined. Scholarship has become so isolated that scholars work in private, focusing on narrow areas and rarely analysing the way this isolated work fits into a larger whole. Producing knowledge that is so specialized, scholars often have little concern with how such knowledge articulates with broader discursive and institutional contexts. Cultural studies attempts to overcome this fragmentation by highlighting culture as a living process that shapes the way we live, view ourselves and understand the world around us. By adopting cultural studies' overtly multidisciplinary approach, scholars can study larger social issues such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, immigration and pedagogy from unique perspectives and theoretical positions. As students of cultural studies question the dominant ways of seeing that evolve around the `normal science' of disciplines, they free themselves from the self-validating redundancies that limit insight and chain them to familiar explanations. Indeed, they liberate themselves from the power bloc's complicity with the protocols of education and academic work in general.
Cultural studies advocates argue that the power bloc's development of the electronic mass media has changed the old rules of how culture operates. Media have become sufficiently powerful to produce both new ways of seeing the world and new meanings for lives and work. Media produce and validate those data described as knowledge. Thus, media shape identities and self-images. The last quarter of the twentieth century has witnessed a major transformation in how knowledge is produced. If this is true, cultural studies proponents argue, then we should expand the types of issues we study in the academic domain of education. For example, while we should, of course, continue to study books and print as academic artifacts, we should also begin to study the values that aural and visual media produce, market and distribute in TV, film, CDs, computer networks, advertising images etc. A major transformation has taken place in cultural epistemologies and as of yet  academic disciplines have not been sufficiently equipped to account for such change. Cultural studies has positioned itself as a social force determined to confront these systemic changes and their implications for the purposes of scholarly activity and cultural work.
While critical multiculturalists who are involved with the work of cultural studies are undoubtedly committed to the academic domain of schools and universities, such educators are also concerned with cultural pedagogy. As we briefly referenced in Chapter 2, cultural pedagogy involves education and acculturation that takes place at a variety of cultural locations, including but not limited to formal educational institutions. Cultural studies scholars extend our notion of cultural pedagogy, focusing their attention on the complex interactions of power, knowledge, identity and politics. Issues of cultural pedagogy that arise in a cultural studies context would include:
1. The complex relationship between power and knowledge.
2. The ways knowledge is produced, accepted and rejected.
3. What individuals claim to know and the process by which they come to know it.
4. The nature of cultural/political authority and its relation to the dialectic of empowerment and domination.
5. The ways individuals receive dominant representations and encodings of the world - are they assimilated, internalized, resisted or transformed?
6. The manner in which individuals negotiate their relationship with the `official story', the legitimate canon.
7. The means by which the official and legitimated narrative positions students and citizens to make sense of their personal experience.
8. The process by which pleasure is derived from engagement with the dominant culture - an investment that produces meaning and formulates affect.
9 The methods by which cultural differences along lines of race, class, gender, national origin, religion and geographical place are encoded in consciousness and processed by individuals.
10. The ways scientific rationality shapes consciousness in schools and the culture at large.The implications of such issues for a critical multiculturalism are profound. Operating with such understandings, the possibility of critical multicultural education and cultural work is greatly extended. Indeed, the analytical and meaning-making abilities created by the intersection of cultural studies and cultural pedagogy produce an empowering conversation with critical multiculturalists about what they are doing and its impact on the lives of individuals included in their pedagogical orbit.
Such a conversation moves critical multicuituralists to use cultural studies to facilitate their struggle for social justice and democracy. Critical scholars  maintain that the project of cultural studies is to address the most urgent social questions of the day in the most rigorous intellectual manner available. Thus, the everyday concerns of cultural studies are contextually bound - indeed, the work of the interdisciplinary `discipline' is constantly being articulated and rearticulated around new social, cultural and political conditions. Its engagement with the ever-evolving historical context subverts any tendency on the part of cultural studies scholars to become complacent about the field's contributions both inside and outside the academy. So important is this notion of context that some scholars label the work of cultural studies as radical contextualism. To conceive cultural studies as radical contextualism or a theory of context making speaks directly to the field's contribution to the reconceptualization of analysis.
Radical contextualism implies that the knowledge produced and transmitted by scholars can never stand alone or be complete in and of itself. When one abstracts, one takes something away from its context. Of course, such reductionism is necessary in everyday life because there is too much information out there to be understood in detail by the mind. If an object of thinking cannot be abstracted, it will be lost in a larger pattern. Radical contextualism is certainly capable of abstraction, but at the same time it refuses to lose sight of the conceptual field, the context that provides separate entities with meaning. For example, traditional education has often concentrated on teaching students the `what' of the scholarly disciplines. Life and job experience has traditionally taught us `how' and `why'. Data (the `what') are best learned in the context of the `how' and `why'. Thus, academic knowledge may best be learned in a situated context - as the information connects to the social dynamics of the present. If deeper levels of understanding are desired, tasks must be learned in the context in which they fit. In the light of such a pronouncement critical multiculturalists can begin to see that the immature scholar is one who possesses no specific knowledge of a particular sociocultural setting even though he or she may come to the situation with rigorous academic information. Such scholars become seasoned veterans only after they gain familiarity with specific social, symbolic, encoded, technical and other types of analytical resources, i.e. the context of the lived world.
From an analytical perspective, therefore, cultural studies motivates scholars to push beyond the limits of what we already know. For example, we already understand that particular cultural practices reproduce forms of racism and sexism - an important but insufficient social understanding. Cultural studies scholars insist that such understandings provide only a starting place for academic analysis. How does, for example, this production of racism and sexism engage in particular contexts with specific individuals to shape political struggles, individual identities and the role that education plays in the lives of students. It is engagement with this form of specific  analysis that motivates cultural studies' encounter with the popular, the everyday and the particularistic. These domains do not merely produce unusual texts to be analysed; but constitute the stage on which political struggle is played out in the late twentieth century.
If critical multiculturalism is serious about the radical contextualism of cultural studies, then innovation in educational analysis looms on the horizon. Educators have not yet come to appreciate the diverse ways in which technological innovation, electronic communications and the globalization that accompanies them have changed the social, economic and powerrelated context in which education takes place. For example, globalization in this context involves not only the integration of financial systems, the mobilization of planetary communication networks and the reconfiguration of labour/management systems, it also entails confrontation with new constellations of racial and cultural diversity. While developments such as virtual reality and digital technologies will raise ethical issues unimaginable in the present, issues of diversity will demand attention to questions of social justice that have been repressed in the last two decades of the twentieth century. Globalization creates a social context where Western culture can no longer simply be positioned as the paragon of civilization. Non-Western cultures and other marginalized groups have revolted against this exclusionary practice, demanding that their voices and histories be acknowledged. The growth of visual and print media and their impact on all phases of intellectual and artistic life has shifted attention from the traditional study of Western culture to global concerns such as ecology, technology, colonialism and their manifestations in the omnipresent popular culture. Attention to such a changing context informs us that neither the world in general nor education in particular will ever be the same again.
Power, hegemony and representation: the pursuit of race, class and gender justice
One cannot talk of securing race, class and gender justice without understanding and challenging the way power operates on the contemporary cultural landscape. Here specifically is where the contextual analysis of cultural studies informs critical multiculturalism. The cultural realm has become a more and more important location in the shaping of both historical and everyday experience. Dominant power is no longer exercised simply by physical force but through social psychological attempts to win men and women's consent to domination through cultural institutions such as the schools, the media, the family and the church. This notion of hegemony developed by Antonio Gramsci in Mussolini's Italian prisons of the 1920s and 1930s recognizes that the winning of popular consent is a very complex  process. The power bloc wins popular consent by way of a pedagogical process, a form of learning that engages people's conceptions of the world in such a way that transforms (not displaces) them with perspectives more compatible with the elite. The existence and nature of hegemony is one of the most important and least understood features of the late twentieth century. Students of power, educators, sociologists, researchers, all of us are hegemonized, as our field of knowledge and understanding is structured by limited exposure to competing definitions of the socio-political world. The hegemonic field with its bounded sociopsychological horizon garners consent to an inequitable power matrix - a set of social relations that are legitimated by their depiction as natural and inevitable (Goldman 1992; West 1993; McLaren 1994a; Giroux 1997a).
The technologies of hegemony (the methods by which social consent is garnered) move social domination from condition yellow to condition red. Critical multiculturalists find themselves in a state of full alert in regard to the exacerbation of domination in the postmodern condition of the late twentieth century. This reality, termed hyperreality by postmodernist theorist jean Baudrillard (1983), is marked by a blurring of the distinction between the real and the unreal. Such a blurring produces a social vertigo precipitated by a loss of touch with traditional notions of time, community, self and history. New structures of cultural space and time generated by bombarding electronic images from local, national and international venues shake our personal sense of place (Aronowitz and Giroux 1991; Gergen 1991; Kincheloe 1995). This proliferation of signs and images characteristic of media information-soaked hyperreality functions as a mechanism of control in contemporary Western societies. The key to a successful counterhegemonic critical multicultural pedagogy hinges on: (a) its ability to link the production of the representations, images and signs of hyperreality to power blocs in the political economy; and (b) its capacity, once this linkage is exposed and described, to delineate the highly complex and ambiguous effects of the reception of these images and signs on individuals located at various race, class and gender coordinates in the web of reality. No easy task, this effort - but to avoid it is to turn our backs on the democratic experiment and the possibility of social justice. This is why the effort to trace the effects of power in the ways the power bloc represents reality is so important.
We must be very specific about the nature of domination in contemporary life. Power in hyperreality in its obscured yet ubiquitous guise is amplified by corporate control of the means of simulation and representation. By determining what is important (worthy, for example, of time on TV) and what is not, corporate-owned media can set agendas, mould loyalties, depict conflicts and undermine challenges to the existing power bloc without a modicum of public notice. The question of power/domination that confronts  critical multiculturalists cannot be too important an issue, for it is not a topic addressed on the mediascape. CBS will not present a two minute story on domination in hyperreality on tomorrow night's evening news - neither will a single `local affiliate' on any of its news programming in the foreseeable future. Electronic media will make programming decisions on the basis of issues of commodity exchange; that is, cultural codes will be conveyed to the viewing audience on the basis of their capacity to engage men and women in their duty to consume (Luke 1991). The constituency of hyperreality serves the needs of the power bloc with honour and civic reverence - its `patriotic' acts of consumption constitute the lifeaffirming productive energy (elan vital) of late twentieth-century capitalism.
Obviously, the conditions under which knowledge is produced and hegemonic consent is won have dramatically changed over the past couple of decades. Power is now produced and exercised in a way that allows it to penetrate national and global boundaries. Western corporations transmit hegemonic power to Third World countries through advertising images sent by satellites, experts sent to speed `development' in agriculture, education and the physical sciences and cultural representations plastered on billboards throughout the countryside. Critical multiculturalists understand that hegemonic power wins consent through the production of pleasure, as popular culture in the form of advertisements, TV shows, popular music, movies and computer games induces individuals from both Third World and Western cultures to make emotional investments that tie them to such cultural productions. Such investments produce meaning as they shape identity and an individual's view of the world. Men and women always view power, no matter how or where it is produced, through their own histories and race, class and gender filters. Understanding contemporary power production and the individualistic filters everyone possesses, critical multicultural ists appreciate the need for more nuanced understandings of the way hegemonic messages are received, incorporated and resisted. Such understandings provide important insights into the effects of power, the ways the individual interfaces with socio-political structures and the way meaning is made on power-produced terrains of representations and dominant cultural formations. Concern with the phenomenological experience of the individual through the influence of social power allows scholars to focus on the moment of self-creation, the way belief structures are formed and, in a hegemonic context, the way consent is elicited. In their analysis of this process critical multiculturalists want to know the way in which power leaves its hegemonic imprint on individual consciousness. The better such a process is understood the more we are empowered to understand what white supremacy, patriarchy and rule by class elite have done to individuals from all cultural spheres (Giroux 1997a).
Unlike more essentialist forms of multiculturalism, criticalists do not buy  into the concept of a unitary self. Drawing up postmodern analyses of identity, critical multiculturalists understand human identity or subjectivity as a fragmented, non-unitary, contextually contingent entity. As a terrain of conflict and political struggle, identity formation is seen as a process of both emancipation and oppression. In this context the way power represents particular social formations, including, in particular, manifestations of race, class and gender, exerts a profound impact on white and non-white, rich and poor, and male and female struggles for self-determination and their efforts to make sense of their relationship to the world and its people. Such struggles shape everything from one's political beliefs, school performance and life expectations, to one's capacity for self-determination. With these ideas in mind, critical multicultural educators and cultural workers focus on cultural pedagogy and the informal (non-school-based) cultural curriculum of hyperreality. We can develop as many wonderful multicultural school curriculums as we like, but as important and influential as they may be, such lessons often don't address the cultural curriculum being taught by TV, movies, popular music, video games and the Internet. Popular cultural consumption shaped by TV and movie corporations and other entertainment industries positions power-wielding commercial institutions as the teachers of the new millennium. Corporate cultural pedagogy has devised pristine lesson plans, constructing educational forms that are wildly successful when judged on the basis of their bottom-line `behavioural objectives'. Replacing traditional classroom lectures with more pedagogically effective animated fantasies, youth movies, TV and an entire array of entertainment forms produced ostensibly for adults but voraciously consumed by young people, corporate pedagogy has `educated' youth. Such a pedagogical revolution has not taken place in some crass manner with Lenin-like corporate wizards checking off a list of institutions that have been captured; instead, the revolution has been brought to you in Cinemascope, Technicolor and Sensaround. Deploying fantasy, corporate entertainment has created a new utopia with visions of freedom and pleasure unimagined by previous generations.
Power, representation and the cultural
In this sobering context it is the duty of critical multiculturalists to develop methods of studying the cultural pedagogy of hyperreality and the corporate curriculum, carefully monitoring and documenting their social and political effects. Teachers, educational researchers, political leaders, parents and students must be empowered to expose the corporate curriculum and to hold corporate decision-makers accountable for the pedagogy they produce. As we develop methods of analysing the ideologies of corporate pedagogy as encountered in movies and other media, we must use them to produce a  body of information that activists can draw upon. As we gain a more sophisticated view of the ways cultural pedagogy operates, we are better able to expose race, class and gender oppression and even rewrite popular texts when the opportunity presents itself. Our analyses can be used to ground strategies of resistance that understand the relationship among cultural pedagogy, knowledge production and subjectivity. For example, consider Disney films in the context of the critical multiculturalist concern with cultural pedagogy, power, representation and hegemony. Disney films are not the innocent, non-political texts they are assumed to be by liberals and conservatives, with their implications for economic policy, ecological politics, race, class and gender relations and US domestic and foreign policy. Henry Giroux (1997b) focuses on the gender curriculum of The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. In both movies female characters are depicted within very traditional gender roles, lead lives subservient to men and identify themselves within the parameters of men's positive or negative perceptions of them. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel (the woman mermaid) in the early portion of the movie appears to be enveloped in a rebellion against the control of her father in her efforts to pursue a life out of the sea in the world of humans. Soon, however, the audience learns that Ariel trades one form of patriarchal submission for another, as she makes a pact with Ursula, the sea witch, to give up her voice for a pair of legs. The purpose of the deal involves Ariel's desire to engage in a romantic relationship with the handsome Prince Eric. The cultural curriculum of The Little Mermaid teaches profound hegemonic lessons in gender relations: women gain their identity only through the validation of males; and within our patriarchal society women always submit to male authority whether it be that of one's father or husband.
Representations can be used by the power bloc to expand their influence, Norm Denzin argues, by posing as objective depictions of reality. Thus, power wielders use film, TV and other mechanisms to transmit particular representations. Critical multiculturalists understand that there is a direct link between cultural representation and hegemonic patriarchal, white supremist and elite socio-economic class domination. Corporate and business leaders buttress their economic power by using their media access to represent prestige and connect it to the ownership of their products wouldn't you rather drink Beck's Beer, drive an Infiniti, dress in Versace and carry a Gucci bag? The power bloc has the resources to present positive rep resentations of itself to the world. Of course, such representations have little if anything to do with reality, as evidenced by oil and chemical companies representing themselves as champions of environmental protection or automobile companies representing themselves as the home of happy, contented and empowered line workers turning out products shaped by their highly respected viewpoints. The neo-imperialism or contemporary colonization  that the USA inflicts on Asian, African and Latin American societies involves economic and cultural occupation rather than military occupation and is accomplished by Hollywood and Madison Avenue's ability to represent the world to and for American economic interests (Luke 1991; Musolf 1992; Brown 1993).
Through its control of representation, therefore, the contemporary power bloc gains the unprecedented ability to create, organize, articulate and disarticulate the affective sensibilities and cognitive perceptions that motivate individuals to identify with particular socio-political and educational positions. In contemporary Western societies the effort to understand the political realm and the domain of educational politics cannot be accomplished outside of a knowledge of the power of representation in previously dismissed cultural and `mere entertainment' venues such as TV, film, popular music, video games, computers and the Internet. For example, the way whiteness is subtly represented in these cultural domains exerts a major impact on the racial distribution of power. In addition, the way TV erases class relations by portraying contemporary society as classless helps to shape the way wealth is distributed. One is far more likely to see explicit torture and rape scenes and hear the screams of victims than to see representations of the class struggle or hear the word `class'. TV news also removes class from contemporary affairs, at most showing brief shots of workers on a picket line during a strike. Doug Kellner (1990) points out that TV news often portrays the strike as a conflict between strikers and consumers, as it focuses its report on how the strike will hurt consumers. Little coverage is given to the unfair corporate policies that motivated workers to take action (Frankenberg 1993; Gray 1995).
Obviously, in late twentieth-century hyperreality, media representations revolving around the axes of race, class and gender play an important role in shaping the nature of Western cultural development. The ways in which dominant commercial institutions represent blackness are one of the most important stories of the last two decades. These representations and their effects constitute a major concern of critical multiculturalism. Young black males, for example, have been demonized by conservative and liberal representations in the last years of the century. They have been used as symbols in the attack on welfare, educational funding, civil rights legislation and job training. Represented in the media as violent and pathological criminals, black youth have been used to rally white racial solidarity and support for racist, right-wing social and educational policies. Using racialized code words to prey upon white fear of young black males, both conservative and liberal politicians have tied black males to the erosion of standards in education and the decline of morality in the public sphere in general.
Black youth and their radical supporters, the story goes, are waging an attack on Western values, the traditional family, well defined gender roles  and the `common culture'. Such racialized coding can be heard in all sectors of society, education in particular. School administrators and educational leaders in predominantly white schools often speak of their desire to send black students back to their own neighbourhoods - such a statement can be read as a code for a resegregation policy that sends black students `back where they belong away from whites'. Critical multiculturalists are painfully aware of the ways in which such codes and representations are used to perpetuate and intensify inequitable power relations in contemporary societies. Ellen Swartz (1993) extends our understanding of critical multiculturalist goals in this context, maintaining that representations of black youth and other subordinated race, class and gender groupings must be `unfixed'. Such a process, she concludes, involves challenging the way this representational process has implanted white supremacy, patriarchy and class elitism into the consciousness, cultural productions and imaginations of members of the dominant group.
The effectiveness of power inequality:
the nature of powerlessness
Critical multiculturalists believe that too many individuals from the dominant culture fail to understand the effects of power inequality. A central aspect of a critical multicultural curriculum involves acquainting mainstream individuals with the pain of oppression. Iris Marion Young (1992) is helpful in the initial effort to define oppression in clear and precise terms. While Young delineates five `faces' of oppression (exploitation, marginality, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence), we will focus for the moment only on powerlessness. Such a category, Peter McLaren (1994a) reminds us, typically affects groups such as women, blacks, chicanos/Latinos, Puerto Ricans, most Spanish-speaking peoples, West Indians, Native Americans, Jews, Appalachians, lesbians, gay men, Arabs, Asians, the elderly, working class people, the poor and physically and mentally disabled people. Contrary to the assertions of essentialist multiculturalists, no one group's oppression can be designated as the causal foundation of all other oppressions or be deemed more important than all others. Indeed, Young argues in the same way we did in earlier chapters that group differences interact with individuals in a manner that can induce both privilege and oppression for the same person along different axes of power.
Powerlessness involves structures of social, political and economic division, and often entails issues of status. Powerless people in contemporary Western societies possess little control over their work lives, are deskilled in jobs that rarely involve their input or creativity, hold little knowledge recognized or valued by dominant culture, express themselves in ways viewed condescendingly by the power bloc, are unfamiliar with the workings of  institutions and bureaucracies and are considered unwelcomed outsiders by those in privileged settings. Such individuals fail to meet the norms of respectability constructed by dominant society and prove their failure by way of their manners, dress, speech, deportment, personal style and taste. Such norms and powerless individuals' shortcomings in relation to them cannot be separated from the dynamics of race, class and gender. Young also uses the vocational category `professional/non-professional' to designate this status difference between individuals - a category also inscribed by race, class and gender. Powerless individuals don't have the status professionals possess. Three examples illustrate what is missing in the lives of the powerless: (a) little opportunity to develop one's talents throughout one's life; (b) little autonomy to act on one's own prerogative outside the authority of professionals; and (c) little hope of being taken seriously, of being listened to with respect, of being treated with dignity. In this context powerless people must attempt to prove their respectability in every new social encounter.
Unfortunately, affluent white people are often blind to the suffering of the powerless. Young extends our ability to render the powerless visible through a description of oppressed people, whom she describes as marginalized. Marginalized people are men and women who possess so little power they cannot escape the underclass. Western labour systems will not employ the marginalized, whose ranks include large numbers of old people, people who have lost industrial jobs that have moved to Third World locales, black or Latino young people who cannot procure a first job and have lost hope and American Indians living on reservations. The effects of marginalization are tragic, as capable individuals are denied useful social and economic participation. While the material deprivation that accompanies marginalization is intolerable, the punitive treatment marginalized peoples must endure from the government agencies that administer them is as bad. In this bureaucratic context marginalized men and women lose their rights to privacy, dignity and individual selfdirection. Unfortunately, in late twentieth-century Western societies the numbers of the powerless and marginalized are growing and efforts to provide dignified assistance to them are being abandoned.
At the same time that attempts to assist the oppressed are waning, obstacles to what Young labels exploitation are falling. Western societies are increasingly becoming democracies ruled by business priorities, nations where less than 1 per cent of the population owns nearly onethird of the wealth. Thus, as wealth becomes more and more maldistributed, conservative and some liberal leaders argue that all efforts to help the powerless are counterproductive - they make life worse for everyone. W E. B. DuBois (1973) understood the folly of such arguments when he advocated a democratization of industry. Critical multiculturalists pick up on DuBois's democratization of industry, as they call for an economic democracy. Keenly aware of the suffering of the powerless, such a concept maintains that a political  democracy cannot exist without a concurrent economic democracy. An economic democracy is grounded on the belief that every worker deserves to work in a dignified and reasonably well paying workplace with an opportunity for personal development. Unlike the right-wing market viewpoint, an economic democracy maintains that corporations, workers and consumers hold citizenship in the economic sphere of society. Economic policy should be formulated with the common good in mind, for few economic decisions are private in their repercussions. A critical multicultural education must help students and citizens to understand the indirect outcomes of so-called private economic actions. Such actions must ultimately be regulated in a way that tempers their negative consequences. An economic democracy refuses to trust the short-term logic of economic growth or technical management by `experts' of large corporations and government. In this context many citizens have begun to understand that the old ways of doing business are working poorly. The struggle proponents of economic democracy now face revolves around the effort to free men and women from the familiarity of the old patterns that inhibit the adoption of a new, more humane economic paradigm (Wirth 1983; Bellah et al. 1991; West 1993).
When the goals of business are viewed
in the light of critical multiculturalists' concern with power, interesting
things begin to happen. Unusual questions, such as what are the basic goals
of an economic enterprise or what is the public responsibility of a private
firm, begin to be asked. Western societies had just begun to ask such questions
in the 1960s when the conservative reaction exploded. As a result of such inquiries,
many people decided that private businesses did have goals
that transcended profit making. For example, affirmative action was grounded
on a logic that assumed that private firms had an obligation to reduce racial
and gender inequality. In a critical multicultural democracy this idea could
be expanded to include social goals such as the provision of interesting work,
the protection of the environment or the reformation of public health and safety
(Block 1990). Such goals do not demand the growth of bureaucracy and an army
of government regulators swarming around private firms. As the notion of economic
democracy becomes more and more a part of the economic landscape and employees
become participants in the administration of firms, they can become watchdogs
who monitor the consistency between the firm's action and larger social goals.
While regulatory agencies could not be dismissed, the accent would be on inducing
firms to embrace critical democratic goals as part of their
raison dWre. Such a consciousness can
be created - it is not merely a pipe dream. The words of the Swedish president
of Volvo raise our hopes: `The purpose of business is to help achieve and maintain
the public good and the logical extension is the obligation to administer the
resources with which the company is entrusted and use them to create economic
growth' (Wirth 1983: 27). 
At the end of the twentieth century, however, we must be realistic in our understanding that economic democracy is a project we work on now for future realization. Young reminds us that the present workplace is exploitative in nature. Western workplaces are locales where the fruits of the labour of workers are transferred to managers and wealthy owners. Indeed, the difference between the earnings of workers and business executives continues to grow at alarming rates. Along the axes of race and gender economic exploitation takes shape. Lowstatus, low-paid jobs - bell hops, porters, chamber maids, bus boys etc. - are often filled by blacks and Latinos. Women are still used as exploited labour, as one aspect of women's oppression involves the transfer of power from women to men. Indeed, the power, status and freedom, Young argues, that men enjoy is made possible by women's work for them. Not only do women often see the benefits of their labour transferred to men, but men also receive the reward of women's tendency for nurturing and emotional care. The gender enculturation women still experience induces many of them to provide empathy and support for other people's feelings - often they receive little reciprocation for their own needs. As women have left home to go to work over the past few decades they have often suffered a double exploitation. The jobs women have procured often involve `feminine' tasks such as nurturing, caring for another person's body and peace-making in interpersonal conflicts - waitressing, clerical work, nursing, etc. (Young 1992). Critical multiculturalists understand that their pedagogy demands an understanding of powerlessness, marginalization and exploitation in many cultural locations. Critical multicultural educators know that oppression in school is intimately connected to oppression in the society at large.
Schools as disciplinary sites: the
complexity of educational oppression
The oppression that occurs in the workplace, the media and the home helps to shape the oppression that occurs in schools. In the middle of the nineteenth century schools began to develop as state-supported institutions used in the attempt to discipline future workers and citizens in general. As envisioned by many socio-economic and political leaders, schools would normalize students so they would fit into the existing socio-economic structure. Such efforts, of course, collided head on with the efforts of democratic reformers who saw the school as a site for the empowerment of democratic citizens. The conflict between the regulatory and democratic purposes of school constitutes a main theme in both historical and contemporary schooling. Locating the cause of school failure in the individual pathology of the student, the disciplinary/regulatory educational impulse has assumed that  there are right and wrong ways of doing things - and poor and non-white children's ways of operating are usually wrong. This is only one of countless ways a Eurocentric hegemonic norm structures the lived experience of students and the everyday life of school. Such a norm invisibly establishes a school culture that subtly validates white supremacy, patriarchy and class elitism.
The way these dynamics work is always within a common-sense framework and is, therefore, missed by teachers, educational leaders and educational scholars. For example, many educators assume - falsely, Jeanne Oakes (1985) argues in Keeping Track - that the presence of lower performing students in a classroom will hold back smarter students. Thus, a tracking system is justified on the assumption that higher-order scholarship can take place only in a cognitively segregated classroom. Such cognitive segregation almost always takes place in a racially and class-oriented manner. Such `common sense' eventuates in a situation where privileged predominantly white students from middle and upper-middle class homes receive privileged educational experiences. When such unfair practices are combined with the curricular content discussed previously, which validates existing inequality and suppresses conflict and dissent, we find that the power bloc often uses schools as a part of a larger strategy to defend its interests against the social discord its policies have produced. Hegemony is never a simple process where power wielders merely force their subjects to comply. Instead, it works via negotiation, compromise and struggle to elicit the compliance of the oppressed to the structures that oppress them. By convincing non-white and lower socioeconomic class students that they don't meet the standards required by schooling, the power bloc induces such students to consent to their own degradation. `I'm not good in academics,' we hear scores of brilliant workers in the trades and the clerical domain tell us, reflecting the pronouncements of school personnel who had no idea other than standardized test scores of what such individuals can do. Hegemony is an unequal struggle between groups and individuals with disparate power and authority. What power did our friends in the trades and in clerical work have to fight the authority of the school, with its experts anointed with the mantle of science? Experts too often carry with them the interests of the power bloc, for the knowledge they possess typically comes from a Eurocentric, white, class elitist, male academic domain. Draped with authority, their pronouncements are difficult to oppose (Denzin 1987; Fiske 1993, 1994; Swartz 1993; Christian-Smith and Erdman 1997; Jipson and Reynolds 1997).
Mainstream schools structure the hegemonic terrain on which students operate by validating and invalidating competing definitions of reality. The world view of poor students is often viewed by schools as an absence of `class' and proper breeding. When students resist and assert their world  views, they may act on particular values that further disenfranchise them in the classroom. Clinton Allison (1995) reminds resistant students that their silence, disruption, nonperformance, lateness and absence may `cost them the possibility of using school for their own liberation' (p. 36). Paul Willis (1977) taught us in his study of the `working-class lads' in Birmingham, England, that their resistance to the class inequities helped to reinforce the class structure by locking them into their working class status. Marginalized student resistance to mainstream norms often expresses itself in terms of a cultivated ignorance of information deemed important by the so-called `cultured'. It is, of course, the dominant culture, not the students, who benefit from this cultivated unawareness, as young people lose the ability to critique, to make sense of the world around them. Such resistance leaves them no escape, no way out. Many times in the last years of the twentieth century they have been unable to enjoy a sense of solidarity with their fellow resisters because of race, ethnic or gender antagonism. Their disempowerment and isolation in this context is complete (West 1993; McLaren 1994a).
Teachers often inadvertently operate as cultural brokers for the power bloc, and in the name of following the curriculum guide transmit dominant cultural expectations and modes of evaluation. Amazingly, in the 1990s this process may take place under the flag of multiculturalism - albeit conservative, liberal or pluralist versions. In the name of progressive school administration, hegemonic notions of management as a technical process replace attention to power relations, student empowerment and issues of justice. Educational leadership in this context becomes little more than the scientific management of inequality - an organizational approach that rationalizes the disciplinary role of schooling while subverting the democratic impulse. The demand for student conformity to managerial dictates is promoted as a politically neutral quest for order - the suggestion of patriarchal, white supremist or class elitist assumptions within the discourse is viewed as an absurdity, the babbling of radicals. Critical multiculturalists in their understanding of the complexity of these multiple hegemonic educational dynamics reject macro-social and political, determinist and reductionist descriptions of the domination of schooling. Drawing upon the insights of critical pedagogy and cultural studies, critical multiculturalism avoids reductionism by focusing on the interaction between structuring sociopolitical forces and the everyday experiences that individuals construct within the context created by those forces. One theme of the work of Henry Giroux (1997a) has involved the criticism of reproduction theory that posits that schools mechanistically reflect and reinforce the oppressive power relations of the larger society. Such relationships between schools, students and macro-social formations are very subtle, as a myriad of forces interrupt an ordered correspondence between power and oppression at school. Richard Brosio (1994) explains this relationship between oppressive forces  and students and other individuals as a mediated interaction, a `soft version of correspondence'. The playing field of lived experience is shaped by forces of power and human beings create their lived realities on this powersaturated terrain. No outcome is predetermined, no effects are guaranteed; but patriarchy, white supremacy and class elitism may be the most influential players in town (Ferguson 1984; Fiske 1994; Macedo 1994).
Power, struggle and resistance in
Obviously, critical multiculturalists believe that the decentring of race, class and gender power is one of the most important needs of Western societies. In this context critical multiculturalism seeks to increase the localizing power of non-whites, women and individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Such a goal requires an ability to recognize and a will to contest imperializing power as expressed in Eurocentric and white ways of understanding the world. White people must learn to listen to non-whites' and indigenous people's criticism of them and the cultural norms they have established and imposed on non-European and lower socio-economic class peoples. The struggle for empowerment of marginalized and exploited people must include everything from engaging such individuals in an empowering education to a more equitable distribution of wealth. Indeed, as Western societies have moved to the right, traditional concerns about the welfare of the working class have faded. Too often in the contemporary global economy we find unemployed and underemployed individuals with insecure temporary, part-time and lowpaying jobs. The exploitation of working people has intensified in the contemporary era, as the working class has been fragmented and disorganized.
At the end of the twentieth century corporate and business leaders are free to specify the size of the workforce in relation to the demands of global economic productivity. If international competition necessitates it, postmodern Western economies justify lower wages. The corporate vanguard is rarely contained in its relations with labour; it can employ or dismiss workers at the whim of the market (MacLeod 1987; Kellner 1989; Borgmann 1992; Smart 1992). In their cultural work and pedagogy, critical multiculturalists deem it essential to explain that this is a time of decreasing labour power and increasing labour control. Indeed, labour control as a social strategy invades all aspects of contemporary life and cuts across the race, class and gender axes of power. Workers, Jean Baudrillard (1983: 134) writes, `must be positioned at all times'. The system of socialization is expanded, labour is shaped to specifications. In the name of worker empowerment, business and industrial leaders apply Japanese management techniques to increase worker responsibility for parts of the production  process. Yet at the same time that this flexible team concept moves workers closer to the decision-making traditionally controlled by management, they are excluded from the status and power of the corporate power bloc.
Nothing illustrates this exclusion as much as the disparity of pay between workers and managers. The emerging postmodernist economy of the 1980s simply transferred money from the poor to the rich in the name of trickle down and supply-side economics - the poor losing US$23 billion in income and federal benefits, while the rich gained $35 billion (Grossberg 1992). Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca made over $38 million in 1986 and 1987 from his salary, bonuses and stock options. A worker toiling at minimum wage for forty hours per week since the birth of Christ would not have earned this much. Managers defend salaries such as Iacocca's, arguing that corporate executives face great stress in the contemporary economy and must be rewarded for steering businesses through troubled economic waters. In the period that Iacocca earned more than $38 million, Chrysler profits fell by 7 per cent.
Executive salaries rose dramatically in the 1980s despite the performance of their companies. Texaco chief executive James W Kinnear's salary went up 14 per cent at the same time the company was dealing with bankruptcy proceedings and a record $4.4 billion loss. The median cash compensation for chief executives in the nation's largest companies passed the $1 million mark in 1987. Executive salary increases of 113 per cent in one year are not uncommon. In the same year that Iacocca made over $20 million, workers at Chrysler were being exhorted to cut waste in the light of the company's falling profits. As Iacocca said in response to questions about his salary, `That's the American way. If little kids don't aspire to make money like I did, what the hell good is this country?' (DeYoung 1989: 152-3).
Critical multiculturalism, unlike liberal and pluralist forms of multiculturalism, focuses on these class dynamics as well as race and gender. Indeed, we cannot understand race and gender oppression outside the context of socio-economic class. Mainstream Western education teaches students to accept the class inequities - all in the name of a neutral curriculum, all in the attempt to take politics out of education. Critical multiculturalism induces students, workers and citizens to question the hidden political assumptions and race, class and gender bias of school and media education. As members of Western societies, we see such overtly political pronouncements as somehow inappropriate and out of place in public institutions such as schools. Teachers should remain neutral, many students argue, not understanding the covert political implications of almost everything that presents itself as objective information, disinterested science and balanced curricula. Of course, we understand where such students are coming from: they are making a case for fairness, for delineation of both sides of a question. They have been taught to believe that objectivity is an  attainable virtue that should be practised by everyone involved with education. They have never been exposed to the argument that education is never neutral, that when we attempt to remain neutral, like many churches in Nazi Germany, we support the prevailing power structure. They are unfamiliar with the critical multicultural perspective that teachers, writers and cultural workers cannot help but take political positions; they only have the choice of being conscious or unconscious of the political positions they broadcast. Indeed, teachers in particular can learn that their political commitments do not grant them the right to impose these positions on their students. But to hold a position and to force a student to accept that position are two different things entirely.
In a postmodern hyperreality where global corporations are armed with a storehouse of technological innovations that provide them with unprecedented power to shape opinions and regulate more and more aspects of our lives, critical multiculturalists' concern with power and hegemony takes on even more importance. The neglected realm of politics, of political literacy as it relates to everyday life, the workplace and the economic domain and to race and gender, becomes more important than ever. Any critical multiculturalist education or cultural work must take on the responsibility of making sure that students and citizens are politically literate. Any attempt to study the nature of social justice must be grounded on a familiarity with the political, that domain of social study that analyses the way power is produced and distributed. Mainstream education and its conservative, liberal and pluralist multicultural perspectives in the name of democracy actually subvert democracy with their whitewash of social antagonisms and conflicts. Mainstream media take the same evasive action with their reduction of social conflict in the USA to electoral politics among Democrats, Republicans and the Perot-financed Reform Party, and sometimes liberals and conservatives. Such battles are often little more than cat fights within the power bloc and have relatively little to do with questions of social justice and the egalitarian distribution of power. Critical multiculturalism makes sure that students understand as a part of the curriculum of political literacy that Western societies are terrains of socio-political struggle involving diverse economic, gender and racial groups (Kellner 1990).
The critical multiculturalist curriculum of power and political literacy asserts that it is never sufficient to speak in general terms about race, class and gender oppression. Indeed, such a curriculum `names', focusing attention on, for example, corporate power wielders and the specific ways race, class and gender groups suffer in historic and contemporary Western societies. While names are named and conscious oppressors are delineated, critical multiculturalists also appreciate the fact that many aspects of race, class and gender oppression are not intentional and often take place in the name of good intentions. In Chapters 5, 6 and 7, we will specify in detail  various aspects of such oppression. Without an understanding of these specific dynamics, teachers are too often unable - even with love in their hearts and the best intentions - to protect students from the radioactive fallout of hidden structures of racism, patriarchy and class bias. Teacher education reform has traditionally ignored such issues, focusing instead on classroom rearrangement, curricular format, lesson planning and attention to clearly (and behaviourally) stated objectives. Too often such matters served only, in Donald Macedo's (1994) term, to stupidify those who took them seriously, as they pushed questions of how both school purpose and teacher/student identities are shaped vis-a-vis larger socio-political and cultural formations off the table.
In the context of these questions of power, oppression and struggle, critical multiculturalists understand, even as they document the insidious tectonics of racism, sexism and gender bias, that such structures are porous with numerous tunnels for escape. Even when educational purposes are consciously oppressive, Clint Allison (1995) reminds us, purposes and outcomes are not the same thing. Even though they have operated as tools of the power bloc, schools are places that often teach literacy - an essential skill in the process of empowerment. Many students use those portions of education they find applicable to their lives, concurrently identifying and rejecting hegemonic attempts to win their consent to stupidifying perspectives. Of course, these are students who are often deemed to have a bad attitude, who may be labelled surly and unteachable; but they may also be the students who are sufficiently empowered to lead critical pro-democracy movements in Western societies. Thus, critical multiculturalists recognize the possibility for resistance, even successful resistance to the forces of imperializing power. Because patriarchal, white supremacist and class elitist oppression is not deterministic, because it is mediated by countless factors, the power bloc's intentions may mutate in the kaleidoscope of everyday school life. When the advances in social theory over the past two decades are brought into the study of the hegemonic efforts of the power bloc, we gain new insights into the nature of power and domination. Much of our work involves the analysis of power in hyperreality's mediascape, the changing nature of corporations and businesses in the global age and the effects of these dynamics on education and the formation of identity (see, for example, Kincheloe 1995; Steinberg and Kincheloe 1997).
The conditions under which knowledge is produced have changed dramatically over the past twenty years. With the construction of the global network of communications, science and technology and its effect on the generation of information, power and hegemony will take on new forms and guises. Teachers interested in social justice will have to understand these changes in such a way that they can connect them to the lives, histories, cultures and everyday experience of students from historically subjugated  groups. What is the effect of the corporate commodification of black culture? How does such commodification shape and reshape black students' identities? White students' identities? How do such corporate and media depictions reconfigure the struggle for social justice? Where are the openings they create for positive resistance to oppression? How do teachers incorporate these issues into the curriculum and lived world of the classroom for positive effect? As racial demographics change in Western societies, relegating white people to a smaller percentage of the total population, those social groups once viewed as living on the margins of society become more and more important. Such news does not rest well with many Westerners especially those from traditional centres of race, class and gender power. Like it or not, they will have to listen to marginalized, angry voices more and more frequently in the twenty-first century (Fiske 1993; Perry and Fraser 1993; Brosio 1994). If the social order is not to be torn apart with racial and class wars, Western peoples had better begin listening not only to the marginalized but to the benevolent voices of those advocating a critical political and economic democracy. We passionately believe that the issues that surround multiculturalism will shape the future of the West. Peaceful change can only take place through an embrace of democratic principles and a critically defined notion of social justice. As the new century dawns, we stand at a dangerous crossroads.