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Canadian Tv Sitcom as a Web site of Public Pedagogy


This examine explored which concepts about Canadian nationwide identities got here to thoughts for worldwide post-secondary college students after watching chosen episodes of two Canadian tv comedies (sitcoms), Nook Gasoline and Little Mosque on the Prairie (LMP). Within the examine, I conceptualized the sitcoms as a website of “public pedagogy” (Giroux, 2000)—the training and studying that happens past the formal faculty setting. On this paper, I overview some related literature from which I draw on the theoretical views and ideas to assist conceptualize my examine. Then, I transfer on to debate the favored sitcom LMP as a chunk of semi-counter-hegemonic cultural textual content. Within the findings and dialogue part, I current and analyze the analysis knowledge which comes from the conversations with my analysis contributors after watching LMP. Lastly, I shut this paper by reiterating key factors from my evaluation and focus on the implications for the sector of grownup training and studying.

Drawing on the Literature: Ideas and Theoretical Perspective

Watching tv exhibits is a follow of “cultural consumption” (Storey, 1996; Meyer, 2008). Cultural consumption refers to reception of or the engagement with cultural texts introduced to the general public by mass media. Cultural consumption will not be merely a course of of buying or utilizing the cultural texts however includes the audiences making their very own that means from these texts (Meyer, 2008). Additional, these concepts about cultural consumption suggest that audiences—or “cultural shoppers” (Corridor, 1997; Kellner, 2015; Meyer, 2008)—all the time actively interpret, internalize, and use the cultural texts of their methods. The cultural shoppers might settle for, question, problem, or oppose concepts from the texts. They could act upon the concepts that they settle for of their each day life. They could attempt to search extra data concerning the concepts they question. They could take actions to advocate their very own opinions which have been supressed. Whether or not they’re conscious or not, cultural shoppers be taught from their practices of cultural consumption (Man, 2007; Jubas, 2015; Taber, 2015; Tisdell, Stuckey, & Thompson, 2007; Wright, 2007; Wright & Sandlin, 2009).

Some students have explored the pedagogical impression of cultural consumption, notably in relation to how cultural texts can each uphold and resist hegemonic assumptions (Armstrong, 2000; Jubas, 2015; Wright, 2007). They centered extra on the resistance within the cultural texts and the potential they’ve for crucial studying. I comply with these students, utilizing two essential theoretical ideas to analyse LMP and its potential for crucial studying on this paper. The primary is Antonio Gramsci’s (1971) notion of “hegemony”. Hegemony refers to a course of whereby values and actions are thought to be widespread sense by nearly all of folks, whereas in reality widespread sense is constructed and transmitted by the highly effective elite class to guard their very own established order and pursuits (Brookfield, 1998). Usually, the effectiveness of hegemony will not be realized by direct forces however usually by persuading folks of their each day actions (Brookfield, 2005).

The second idea that I take advantage of to analyse my analysis knowledge is Paulo Freire’s (1974) “crucial consciousness”, which can also be referred to as crucial transitive consciousness or crucial consciousness in his e-book Training for Vital Consciousness. Freire has outlined crucial consciousness with an in depth record of traits (see Freire, 1974, web page 15). A tenet of getting crucial consciousness is that individuals can replicate on their shared social context and positions and acknowledge everybody’s company (Freire, 1974). Growing crucial consciousness requires folks to have dialogues with others and the world (Freire, 1974). Having dialogues with the world signifies that folks can actively replicate on the social, cultural, political, and financial contexts through which they’re residing. I assert that crucial consciousness is especially essential for minorities, who are sometimes marginalized in a society. It’s because crucial consciousness will lead them take into consideration their social positions deeply and acknowledge the hegemonic energy that supresses their company. After that, minorities usually tend to actively interact within the society, and the hegemonic social constructions (e.g., sexism, racism) are extra simply modified.


This small qualitative case examine concerned six analysis contributors, three feminine and three males. They had been Chinese language worldwide college students learning at College of Regina, SK. All of them accomplished secondary training in China and got here to Canada for post-secondary or graduate training. They had been non-Muslims and had nearly no direct contact with Muslims in actual life. following the format usually utilized in cultural research (Pickering, 2008), I invited contributors to look at two episodes of LMP collectively after which organized a spotlight group with them. A set of draft questions for the main focus group was ready prematurely. The main target group was audio recorded. Since contributors spoke Mandarin within the focus group, I transcribed the recording verbatim into Chinese language earlier than translating it into English. As the first researcher on this examine, I had many instructional and life experiences that I assumed had been just like my contributors. The contributors and I share an id of younger worldwide college students coming from China to Canada. To some extent, this helps me to simply perceive their tales and opinions. Nonetheless, I guarded in opposition to assuming that we shared the same concepts and requested the contributors follow-up questions to completely perceive their views.

LMP: a semi-counter-hegemonic cultural textual content

Zarqa Nawaz, a Muslim author, journalism, and filmmaker, who grew up in Toronto, created LMP. The sitcom introduced the on a regular basis lifetime of a Muslim group within the fictional prairie city of Mercy, SK. It was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and was broadcasted from 2007 to 2012. LMP was immensely well-liked nationally and internationally (primarily in Europe and North America) and gained many tv awards (Bredin, Henderson, & Matheson, 2012).

Muslims, as with different minority teams, usually obtain protection in information media solely when they’re related to political or social points (Avraham & First, 2010). Most Muslim characters are portrayed in Western movies, tv packages, comedian books, and different well-liked cultural texts as backwards and in a detrimental mild, which has been an ongoing and long-term subject (Arjana, 2017; Hamdon, 2018). In distinction, LMP depicted a gaggle of constructive and progressive Muslims; though a really conservative Muslim character, Baber, was additionally portrayed. LMP additionally explicitly introduced xenophobic themes. Thus, I align with Cañas (2013) and assume that LMP resists the orientalist, hegemonic discourses and representations of Muslims in Western cultural texts.

However, LMP nonetheless omitted some complicated and important problems with Islam, which leads me to outline this sitcom as a semi-counter-hegemonic resistance. For example, it was particularly silent on the difficulty of various branches of Islam having diversified tenets, which has the potential for igniting disputes and even wars (Cañas, 2013). The analysis contributors additionally mentioned this phenomenon and criticized LMP for being a medium for propagandizing a sure cultural-political agenda, corresponding to multiculturalism (Liang, 2019). In Cañas’s (2013) phrases, LMP legitimized the hegemonic energy because it overstressed “the forging of nationwide unity” (p. 130). Lee (1991) identified an identical state of affairs when analysing the sitcom Roseanne. As Lee mentioned, whereas Roseanne overtly problematized some social and household relationships, it nonetheless had many contradictions that maintained some hegemonic social relationships which must be challenged.

The hegemonic facets of LMP, Roseanne, or different sitcoms relate to the inherent nature of sitcoms, which makes them inconceivable to be very counter-hegemonic. Following a battle decision mannequin, sitcoms finish fortunately. Sitcoms all the time painting sure social issues which have been, or not less than may very well be, correctly resolved, and these methods of resolving the social issues usually comprise hegemonic assumptions which can be thought to be widespread and constructive (Kellner, 2015). Thus, it’s important for educators to acknowledge the training potential of cultural texts and critically contemplate what hegemonic assumptions they instill into college students’ thoughts.

Findings and dialogue

On this part, I’ll current the ethnic and non secular representations that come to the contributors’ minds in relation to LMP and the mass media, and share how watching LMP stimulates contributors’ serious about their very own social roles. I may even focus on my analysis findings by the lens of contemplating LMP as a pedagogical medium which may serve to arouse contributors’ crucial consciousness. A small a part of the analysis knowledge that I current right here was examined in one other paper (Liang, 2019). I re-analyse these knowledge particularly from the attitude of crucial consciousness improvement, a perspective that was not taken within the earlier paper.

Vital consciousness of understanding marginalized “others”

My analysis findings display that LMP, which overtly exposes Islamophobia, arouses shoppers’ crucial consciousness to replicate on the general public picture of Muslims based on their very own observations in on a regular basis life. Individuals Kang, Hong, and Zhou gave the next feedback. Kang stated: “Individuals usually denigrate Muslims. That’s, so long as there are any points, corresponding to terrorist assaults or any related detrimental social points, folks all the time relate these points to Muslims and assume that the attackers are Muslims.” Hong acknowledged: “There are widespread misunderstandings and even xenophobia in opposition to Muslims residing in North America.” Zhou confessed that: “Many people have biases in opposition to Muslims” after which recounted a dialog she had together with her household for instance to point the general public bias and concern towards Muslims.

Some findings, nevertheless, present that crucial consciousness must be developed and extra dialogue is required for contributors to rethink their very own assumptions, notably the hidden biases they’ve. Within the focus group, when Bai firstly expressed her opinion that LMP someway embellished Islam and Muslims, no different participant overtly objected. They mentioned how LMP didn’t painting the complicated, completely different divisions of Islam and the conflicts amongst these completely different branches. The opinion that LMP ornaments Islam and Muslims, nevertheless, additionally comes from the contributors’ monolithic and stereotypical assumptions of Muslims. For example, a Lebanese-Canadian Muslim, Yasir, was portrayed on the present as very respectful in the direction of his spouse and daughter, about which Zhou stated, “To see how he spoke to his spouse and daughter, it’s onerous to inform whether or not it is a male-controlled household, whether or not it’s patriarchal household or not… I can’t discover any masculine traits that we usually assume Muslim males ought to have.” Whether or not she was conscious it or not, Zhou nonetheless held that Islamic households must be patriarchal and Muslim males govern their households.

Vital consciousness of serious about how hegemony works in media

Within the focus group, contributors mentioned how hegemony works within the media. For example, Zhou raised a query to the main focus group: when an individual has not are available contact with any Muslims, the place does this individual’s biases about Islam and its followers come from? Contemplating this query, contributors critiqued the mass media’s position in transmitting stereotyped opinions about Muslims. They made the next feedback:

Kang: I believe many of the biases come from media.

Zhou: Sure, I believe so. The ability of media is big. It brings a powerful sense of concern to an individual who hasn’t met any Muslims in actual life.

Bai: Sure. We will’t deny that Chinese language media usually barbarizes Muslims.

Individuals additionally mentioned a satirical situation on the present through which a journalist held many hegemonic assumptions when asking a brand new Imam questions. In LMP, the journalist requested the Iman questions, corresponding to, “Who’re you? Are you denying you’re a terrorist?” Relating to this situation, most contributors thought that the journalist held stereotypes concerning the Imam. They moved past the sitcom and expressed their criticism of journalists in actual life. In addition they talked about their doubts about information media, corresponding to whether or not there may be genuine information in actual life given that each one information media and journalists have their very own standpoints. All in all, these findings point out that watching and discussing LMP prompts contributors’ crucial consciousness to consider how media and journalists serve to (re)produce hegemonic values. The findings additionally display that LMP leads contributors to rethink how you can perceive the authenticity of reports of their on a regular basis lives.

Vital consciousness of (re)contemplating their very own social imaginary

A situation in LMP trigged contributors’ reconsideration about their social creativeness and social roles as Chinese language folks residing in a Canadian society. Within the sitcom, Sarah Hamoudi, a secretary of the mayor (named Ann Popowicz), felt disenchanted when she knew that her enterprise journey to China had been cancelled. Then, Popowicz consoled Sarah and stated that: “I’ll convey you a real Chinese language purse. A knockoff Louis Vuitton bag.” Contemplating this situation, Bai expressed her dissatisfied sentiment, saying that: “This unfriendliness towards China makes me sad.” In distinction, Kang thought-about it as regular within the context of a sitcom and argued that: “I believe generally it’s not obligatory for us to [pause], how you can say, to be so delicate… It is a sitcom.” It isn’t stunning that contributors have completely different emotions when watching this scene. The fascinating factor is that the contributors began to debate how different Chinese language audiences would possibly view and reply to detrimental representations of China and Chinese language folks in mass media. They got here to a typical view that many Chinese language audiences really feel uncomfortable with these detrimental representations however they’ll select to maintain silent.

Moreover, the contributors not solely talked about Chinese language audiences’ silence in the direction of detrimental media representations, but in addition Chinese language folks’s taciturnity in each day life. They tried to investigate why many Chinese language folks select to be silent:

Zhou: We all the time simply maintain silent and immerse ourselves in work.

Jiang: Like a pushover.

Zhou: We’re the sort of people that usually replicate on our personal behaviors. For example, if our lives will not be adequate, we are going to assume: We should always work tougher. There isn’t any excuse. To work tougher is the one factor we should always do.

Bai: The training that we obtain additionally prevents us from claiming our rights. That is so unhappy.

Zhou: Fatima stated, “Maybe we’re inflicting an excessive amount of bother. Do we have to trigger a lot bother due to my knee?” Then, Rayyan answered, “It’s not about your knee. If you wish to change the world, you need to make some noise.” Contemplating this case, I believe Chinese language folks can have a really completely different concept. We would say, “Is it too egocentric to do that? Simply to fulfill my private wants, do we have now to recruit a feminine lifeguard?” Lastly, we are going to maintain silent, and we are going to regulate ourselves to that state of affairs.

Jiang: Or, hardly ever, an individual stands up and claims our rights, however only a few folks will echo.

The conversations introduced above contain one other scene from LMP. Rayyan, a younger Muslim feminine physician, prescribed a swimming routine for her affected person, Fatima, to assist her harm knee; nevertheless, they had been disenchanted and gave up their swimming plan once they discovered that there was solely a male lifeguard within the public pool. Subsequently, Rayyan labored onerous to assemble public signatures to request that the mayor rent a feminine lifeguard. Imagining and placing Chinese language folks into this story, Zhou estimated their attitudes and responses to the problems of recruiting a brand new lifeguard to explain how and why Chinese language folks usually maintain silent. Regarding Zhou’s dialogue, different contributors nodded their heads or expressed concurrence in a smooth voice that may be recognized within the audio recording of the main focus group.

No matter the place their assumptions stem from, which could come from their firsthand experiences or representations, contributors thought that reservation was a typical attribute of Chinese language folks. On this examine, LMP fostered contributors’ crucial consciousness and made them rethink silence and why folks had this attribute. In addition they mirrored upon how the silence of Chinese language folks stop them from exercising their rights and asserting their company.


The findings of this qualitative examine display that LMP can function a textual content to foster dialogue between cultural shoppers and the world. LMP helps to arouse cultural shoppers’ crucial consciousness to consider the general public picture of Muslims that they be taught from their on a regular basis life. Discussing LMP with different folks makes the cultural shoppers ponder how hegemony works in media to create and propagate the hegemonic assumptions about Islam and Muslims. Moreover, LMP leads a gaggle of minorities to replicate on their very own social imaginary and social roles thoughtfully. Briefly, not solely is LMP itself a semi-counter-hegemonic cultural textual content but in addition the dialogue of this sitcom capabilities to boost the shoppers’ crucial consciousness.

There isn’t any query that my analysis findings give credit score to the argument that media has the ability to problem cultural shoppers’ assumptions about structural energy relations by casual studying. This argument has been famous within the scholarship exploring the pedagogical perform of cultural consumption (see Armstrong, 2000; Man, 2007; Jubas, 2015; Tisdell, Stuckey, & Thompson, 2007; Wright, 2007). Nonetheless, my analysis findings additionally observe that it is very important incorporate cultural texts into the classroom or different organized grownup studying settings (Lee, 1991; Jubas, 2015; Taber, Woloshyn, & Lane, 2017; Tisdell, 2008). With interventional questions from educators and different learners, cultural shoppers usually tend to additional develop crucial consciousness and problem the implicit, hegemonic biases that exist deeply inside their unconscious. To acknowledge and problem these biases are important as a result of they immediately affect the shoppers’ viewpoints and behaviors. As well as, provided that cultural shoppers convey diversified views when decoding the texts, having discussions with educators and different learners is useful for cultural shoppers to achieve a complete notion concerning the subtext of cultural texts.

It is very important observe that there are a lot of abroad grownup learners in Canada; however this examine centered on just one group of worldwide, Chinese language college students. Additional research may very well be carried out to incorporate adults who symbolize completely different nationalities, ages, genders, and so forth. An examination of such points as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and sophistication might present richer, extra in-depth understanding of how Canadian well-liked tradition influences completely different grownup college students.


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