Dominant discourses embedded in popular culture: An analysis of Brazilian teachers' consciousness

Luciene Soares Wandermurem, University of Texas at El Paso


Many scholars believe that popular culture is part of students' identity and a symbol of subordinated groups' resistance to cultural domination, therefore they support the use of popular culture in the classroom as a way to value students' identity. However, scholars also recognize that often times popular culture is manipulated by elites so as to convey discourses that oppress people of color as an strategy to maintain the status quo. In Brazil, country where this research was conducted, white male individuals are the ones who have historically held power and money, utilizing the media as an instrument of social control. Given the contradictions surrounding the production of mass culture, this qualitative case study proposes an examination of Brazilian teachers' critical consciousness of dominant discourses in popular media. I argue that the uncritical use of popular culture in class contributes to the perpetuation of dominant discourses that reinforce stereotypes, prejudices and even racism.^ From the analysis of data collected through participant observations and interviews two categories emerged: the inert critical consciousness and the active critical consciousness. Teachers characterized by inert consciousness are aware that racism is an issue in the Brazilian society. However, they have difficulty in identifying sources of racial discrimination such as dominant discourses that subjugate people of color conveyed through popular media. Because their critical skills are more limited, teachers under the inertia category emphasize the use of popular culture as a tool for motivation rather than for critical analysis. On the other hand, teachers characterized by active critical consciousness not only are highly critical of the role popular media plays in conveying oppressive discourses but they also act to deconstruct such discourses in the classroom. Active critical consciousness means to engage in praxis, which involves critically reflecting on the sources of oppression and acting on deconstructing them in order to transform reality. With this in mind, the use of popular culture by teachers under the inert critical consciousness category is likely to contribute to the perpetuation of dominant ideologies whereas the use of popular culture by teachers under the active critical consciousness can truly empower subjugated groups.^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Wandermurem, Luciene Soares, "Dominant discourses embedded in popular culture: An analysis of Brazilian teachers' consciousness" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1477868.