Critical Pedagogy, Cultural Studies, and Radical Democracy at the Turn of the Millennium: Reflections on the Work of Henry Giroux

Abstract

After publishing a series of books that many recognize as major works on contemporary education and critical pedagogy, Henry Giroux turned to cultural studies in the late 1980s to enrich education with expanded conceptions of pedagogy and literacy.1 This cultural turn is animated by the hope to reconstruct schooling with critical perspectives that can help us to better understand and transform contemporary culture and society in the contemporary era. Giroux provides cultural studies with a critical pedagogy missing in many versions and a sustained attempt to link critical pedagogy and cultural studies with developing a more democratic culture and citizenry. The result is an intersection of critical pedagogy and cultural studies that enhances both enterprises, providing a much-needed cultural and transformative political dimension to critical pedagogy and a pedagogical dimension to cultural studies. Crucially, Giroux has linked his attempts to transform pedagogy and education with the project of promoting radical democracy. Giroux's earlier work during the 1970s and 1980s focused on educational reform, pedagogy, and the transformation of education to promote radical democracy. In Border Crossings, Giroux notes "a shift in both my politics and my theoretical work". The shift included incorporation of new theoretical discourses of poststructuralism and postmodernism, cultural studies, and the politics of identity and difference embodied in the new discourses of class, gender, race, and sexuality that proliferated in the post- 1960s epoch. Giroux criticized those who ignore "the sea changes in social theory" within the field of education and called for a transformation of education and pedagogy in the light of the new paradigms, discourses, and practices that were circulating by the 1990s. One of the key new discourses and practices that Giroux was henceforth to take up and develop involved the burgeoning discipline of cultural studies.

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