Knowledge, Culture & Power

The relationships between knowledge, culture and power are a focus for many colleagues.

Work in this broad area examines a number of issues.

 1. Knowledge claims and science

One line of inquiry examines the social processes by which knowledge – especially the knowledge generated by scientists and intellectuals – is produced, transmitted, interpreted and used in various sectors of society. Knowledge and innovation drive economies forward, structure government policy, shape our everyday lives – and create new social divisions and inequalities. Related work examines how knowledge is translated and used in practical applications, from aquaculture to climate change, employment to school policy. (Guppy, Lauster, Matthews)

 2. Power / Knowledge

An alternative focus examines the production of knowledge as both embedded and produced within specific relations of power, influence and authority. Scientific, expert and everyday knowledges structure, and are structured by, class, gender, race, age and culture, and by geopolitical divides and urban/rural networks. Drawing from a variety of conceptual perspectives, including feminist, postcolonial and neomarxian theories, scholars in this area pose questions about the applicability, relevance and presumed universality of social science categories, scientific canons and founding texts in the discipline. (Creese, Currie, Kemple, Mawani, Ross)

 3. Education

Educational institutions – especially post-secondary ones – are a focus of central importance, with research examining the changing academic profession, the growth of new scientific and intellectual movements within the university, struggles over what counts as authoritative knowledge, the links between higher education and political values, access to education, First Nations and schooling, and the representation of knowledge in school curricula. (Dierkes, Guppy, Matthews)

 4. Cultural formations

Daily life is a cultural process that constitutes social relations organized through spatial formations, economies and markets, work and labour, and the dynamics of law and legality. Scholars in the Department examine how culture is contested in everyday practices, including state classifications of aboriginal peoples and migrant workers and the struggles these produce. A related line of research examines the multiple bases of cultural tastes, the generation and interpretation of elite/high cultures, and the role of popular culture and mass media in shaping social relations. (Duina, Ghaziani, Hanser, Kemple, Lauster, Mawani, Ross, Veenstra)