Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Follow-up on cultural work

Hi all,

Per Professor Jackson's request, I did some research into the meaning of the word "cultural work." Unfortunately, I still wasn't able to come up with much information. Most music textbooks make no mention of the term, and a Google search does not prove to be any more enlightening.

I did locate one essay called "The Cultural Work of Music Education: Nietzsche and Heidigger," by David Lines. In the essay, Lines never explicitly defines cultural work, though he states, "From the perspective of the cultural work paradigm, the music educator is attuned to the wider dimension of plurality and multiplicity, and is simultaneously a generator or energiser of new values and forms of cultural music-expression." (p. 16).

Though there is no entry for "cultural work" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, I did find the following definitions useful:

work (n) = sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result.

For culture, there were several intriguing definitions:

culture (n) = the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.

culture (n) =
acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills.

culture (n) =
the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education.

(I feel like there are some transparent assumptions contained within these definitions!)

Based on the context of the term, snippets of information I have gleaned from the Lines essay, the Merriam Webster definitions and on Levine's use of the word in Highbrow/Lowbrow, I propose the following definition for cultural work:

cultural work (n) = any act or effort which attempts to either reinforce and uphold existing cultural values, or seeks to create new cultural genres to be either lauded or derided.

Please feel free to add on, modify, or subtract from this definition - I'm sure it's far from perfect!

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