AECT Handbook of Research

Table of Contents

10. Postmodern and Poststructural Theory

10.1 Read me first
10.2 Postmodernism
10.3 Realism and the Symbolic: Two Ways of Knowing
10.4 Poststructural Feminism and Research in Educational Communications and Technology
10.5 Postmodern and Poststructural Theory
10.6 Conclusion
10.7 Envoi
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Every philosophical colloquium necessarily has a political significance (Derrida, 1968/1982, p. 111).

This is not a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are neither fictitious nor the products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely purposeful and intentional. The purpose of this chapter is to present and explore theoretical work that is postmodern and poststructural. These contemporary ideas are advocated for their viability in obtaining understanding about educational communications and technology. Not only do they provide ecological sufficiency but also they raise ethical concerns. Although not all postmodern questions may be immediately answerable, the political act of poststructural analysis may in itself be humanizing. The focus of postmodern, poststructural theory is for modem, structural research to reconceptualize itself towards acknowledgement of its assumptions, towards reflecting them inward, and towards consistency with those assumptions. Being postmodern indicates a historical, sociological point of view. Being poststructural indicates a strategy of analysis and knowing.

Given these provisions, readers may assume ' that the chapter is factual but wonder at the superfluous first paragraph. Looking again reveals something else is at play. The disclaimer inverts the conventional valuing of fact over fiction. That inversion draws attention to the politics of textuality, and all media, including educational communications and technology, in making a rhetorical distinction between truth and fabrication.

Neel explains the separation in Plato, Derrida, and Writing: "Establishing a split between creative and expository writing may be the essential maneuver in establishing the possibility of serious, referential, verifiable discourse. Such a division guarantees the existing hierarchy" (1988, p. 174). The unfortunate effect of this temporal stability is a form of intellectual impairment whereby certain texts may be classified as above analysis. Further, traditional understandings about reading make little contact with the practice of writing. Genres are not to be blurred together, and readers are not supposed to write. For example, Landow's instructional hypertexts based on critical theory (1992) are formally applied in ways supporting authority by transmitting approved data and opinions (Sosnoski, 199 1).

What constitutes fact is a philosophical issue more dependent on who writes or speaks in a particular cultural setting than on style. Literary, imaginative, and fictive elements are inescapable aspects of factual narratives (White, 1978, 1987). The resemblance to novels like Among School children (Kidder, 1989) or The Double Helix (Watson, 1968) indicates that border crossings are commonplace. Foucault's statement, "I am well aware that I have never written anything but fictions" (1980, p. 193), explains distance from received beliefs about what is perceived as true; "One 'fictions' history on the basis of a political reality that makes it true; one 'fictions' a politics not yet in existence on the basis of a historical truth." The postmodern, poststructural interrogation of the socially constructed textual etiquette of true facts and false fictions raises political questions:

  • Who defines and writes the facts?
  • Who is forbidden to write the facts?

For an immediate illustration, apply those questions of who may and who may not to one of the simplest and most frequently encountered sentences in education: PUPILS to whom this textbook is issued must not write on any page or mark any part of it in any way, consumable textbooks excepted.

10.5.1 Authorization in Progress-One Moment

Separating the author from the authority of a text requires acknowledging the political issues of knowledge and power. These directly affect the people who are both readers and authors: designers of instructional messages, developers of instructional systems, managers of learning resources such as librarians and media specialists, scholars and professors engaged in researching applications, and teachers and trainers in preservice and in-service programs. The social aspects of criticism provide the necessary perspective, but the critical position is a recent innovation in educational communications and technology (Belland, Duncan & Deckman, 1991).

There is much room for critical study, because unquestioning submission to authority or thoughtlessly following procedures prefers preconventional and conventional morality to the highest level of moral consciousness: the postconventional consideration of principles (Kohlberg, 1981, 1984). Neither utopian, nor accepting morality as scientifically proved, but towards recognizing technical, practical, and critical distinctions, Hlynka (1991, p. 44) quotes Knirk and Gustafson (1986, p. 33), with emphasis added on the key word: "Although an instructional technologist may have a voice in creating policy, he or she is primarily responsible for implementing policy decisions.... If an instructional technologist questions the goals, an interpretation should be provided by a representative of the policy-making body." To make a similar point about the basic assumptions of instructional design, Yeaman (1994f, p. 71) quotes Gagné, Briggs, and Wager (1988, p. 4): "We are not concerned here with 'mass' changes in opinion or capabilities, nor with education in the sense of 'diffusion' of information or attitudes within and among societies." The theoretical, philosophical foundation explained here reads all texts as political, especially those that deny any politics. This chapter asserts that the ethical responsibilities of practice and scholarship in educational communications and technology extend beyond functionalism.

10.5.2 Toward an Anthropology of Ourselves and the Politics of Knowledge

"Postmodernity" is the continuation of history beyond its end (Martin, 1992, p. 47).

Whereas Immanuel Kant offers the modem assumption that each person's life has an individual meaning over political circumstances, Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre argue that if such humanistic beliefs require metaphysical faith, the anthropological question of the true human character remains unanswered and the purpose of life uncertain (Derrida, 1968/1982, p. 136). Derrida wrote under the political circumstances of intellectual authority overtly linked to bureaucratic authority when, in the late 1960s, French educational institutions revealed themselves as socializing agencies in the service of the state. University administrators called in police and militia to restore order with force (p. 114). Intelligentsia figures such as the structuralists Jean Piaget and Claude Lévi-Strauss, who said they were neutral scientists (Gardner, 1973, pp. 213-15), were seen as seeking national stability at the price of continued intolerance in the academy. The official answers to "Who are we and what is humanity' evaded controversy and were restricted to authorized views from the Enlightenment philosophes. The resulting discourse of modernity had functioned to preserve the oppressive power of bureaucratic authorities. Les Événements, the Paris events of May 1968, drew disillusionment with Marxism and existentialism, both of which came to be viewed as unreasonably idealistic and the apolitical structuralist enterprise.

In contrast, Derrida's political position (1968/1982) was acceptable as representative of the Nouvelle Critique movement, along with Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and Phillipe Sollers (Lamont, 1987). (See Barthes, 1966/1987, on the Nouvelle Critique dating back to the Liberation and distinct from Anglo-American New Criticism.) Derrida's appeal was in using learning from the classical tradition to reread authorized views and see through political circumstances. It is at this ongoing junction, where knowledge and power come together, where the logic of reason itself is interrogated, where philosophy becomes political, that postmodern and poststructuralist thought can be detected in rejecting modernity and structuralism and going beyond.

At the same time, a rewriting of Kant's end in autonomy is made possible by rereading in the shadow of political history (Martin, 1992, pp. 45-47). Political circumstances do make a difference. When they are ignored, the humanism is impure. For example, here is Sosnoski quoted out of context so as to seem to be following Descartes: "All theorizing is derived from the question 'Who am IT To want to understand what you are doing is to want to understand who you are.... This question precipitates humanistic study. It is as important to students as it is to us. Like us, they are theorists" (1991, p. 284). In comparison, it is interest in Kant's importantly different question "What are we?" which exposes the state's power structures for being both individualizing and totalizing (Foucault, 1982a). In other words, what is political is reread and rewritten "in the general text of the modem crisis of representational thought and its mechanisms" (Jay, 1990, p. 78). As in the epigraph stating that all discussions are political (Derrida, 1968/1982, P. I 11), the matter of autonomy remains the open question of the human identity (p. 136).

This chapter has been constructed with postmodern and poststructural theory's commitment to keeping questions open and to the resultant uncertainty. There should be consistency between the message and the way the message is presented, and this chapter is unlike a traditional research handbook chapter that has the linear, monolithic position of a metanarrative. Like an encyclopedia, several voices are required to show diversity as well as convergence, and any contradiction or overlap is intentional. This comes from Derrida's announcement that politics are inescapable (1968/1982, p. I 11), and the conclusion: "One has nothing, from the inside where 'we are,' but the choice between two strategies" (p. 135):

To attempt an exit and a deconstruction without changing terrain, by repeating what is implicit in the founding concepts and the original problematic, by using what is implicit in the founding concepts and the original problematic, by using against the edifice the instruments or stones available in the house, that is, equally in language.... To decide to change terrain, in a discontinuous and irruptive fashion, by brutally placing oneself outside, and by affirming an absolute break and difference.

Derrida continues by explaining how these deconstructions are made possible: "A new writing must weave and interlace these two motifs of deconstruction.... One must speak several languages and produce several texts at once" (1968/1982, p. 135). There can be no single voice, no absolute knowledge, no perfect translation, and no expectation that anyone else thinks like ourselves. Freedom requires respect of the other, of truths other than the logic of white men, and meanings from others outside the West and those within but excluded: see Bannet (1989, pp. 222-23). Multivocality is a partial solution to these difficulties of identity, translation, and power. Concomitantly, there are fresh possibilities for social theory through widespread scholarship (see Derrida, 1994), and Martin proposes that "Derrida provides the basis for a new language of politics" (1992, p. 198).

In applying Derrida's declaration, scholars expert in postmodern and poststructural theory were invited to write essays for this chapter. The authors each describe positions that make and should continue to make significant contributions. The contributions give examples of practical situations and ways to proceed, and identify what is currently lacking in research and theory. The common intent is to make clear the value of postmodern and poststructural theory to research in educational communications and technology.

Like the postmodern and poststructural abandonment of the failed modem promises and failed revolutionary hopes of Les Événements, the work reported here resembles the politics that White (1987, pp. 104-05) reads in Foucault. Conservatism is not allowed to justify itself on the basis of tradition. Privatization of public resources by government for the public good is suspect. Liberal pleas for justice in the name of law and order seem ineffective and muddled: "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" (Lorde, 1979/1993). Leftists are recognized as tending towards utopian social science and naive cultural idealism. Nevertheless, racism and xenophobia, heterosexism and homophobia, sexism, environmental destruction, and poverty are important to fight, among other instances of oppression, by giving specific support to radical, liberatory, critical pedagogy.

The position becomes apparent when the points of view in this chapter are seen as a whole rather than as a collection of parts. They coexist in their relationship to instructional systems development. They move educational communications and technology from being mostly psychological and management based to being more cultural and situated in society. The concerns are practical, but the writers also seek the meaning of a transformation towards nonreductionist theory.

10.5.3 Postmodern and Poststructural Theory as Criticism

Criticism is not science. Science deals with meanings; criticism produces them (Barthes, 1987, p. 79).

Critical theory indicates: "Un-American activities that employ a vocabulary and sometimes methods belonging to the history of ideas rather than strictly to the domain of literary criticism, such as those of phenomenology, structuralism, deconstruction, semiotics" (Spivak, 1985, p. 29). This fits well with Adams's belief that the Western tradition of critical theory, spanning more than 2,000 years of Western culture, will continue and not be dismissed by global acceptance of multicultural literature and thought (1992, p. v).

Critical theorizing in the tradition of the humanities is distinct and is the most intellectually important development in educational communications and technology (Yeaman, Nichols & Koetting, 1994). Through the way of knowing generally labeled criticism, humanistic study of communication aspects maintains the social relevance of the field. The design of instructional messages is seen as an artistic endeavor with sociopolitical consequences. The critical approach to instruction has a literary foundation that, as Geertz points out (1973, 1983), is appropriate for understanding culture by reading it.

In the context of the present chapter, theory means critical theory as it is widely applied in literary and philosophical studies: "The term critical theory is used here not in the narrow sense employed by the Frankfurt social critics but to include speculative writing about the nature of literature and the problems of critical discourse about it" (Adams, 1992, p. v). It is necessary for readers to compare critical theory in this chapter with how it is engaged in reference to the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research's Kritische Theorie by Koetting and Januszewski (1991), Streibel (1993), and Nichols's Chapter 9.

Contemporary literary works tend to be philosophical, while philosophical works tend to be literary. Each finds a complement in the other. Questions of philosophy as writing, and writing as philosophizing, occupy mutual ground. A typical title is The Rhetoric of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Rhetoric (Hernadi, 1989). This interdisciplinary work is given credibility by postmodern and poststructural endeavors acknowledging the interdependence of literary studies and philosophy.

Classes in statistical research design and educational psychology are unnecessary for carrying out humanistic research on this theoretical foundation. Neither a university position nor a Ph.D. is required for inquiry supported by critical literacy (Knoblauch & Brannon, 1993). What helps is a background in the humanities and considerable practice at the undergraduate level in reading, thinking, and writing. However, teachers being critical runs against the belief of many educational researchers that professor knows best (see Gibson, 1986, pp. 162-65 and 9.7.5). It contrasts the Leninist bias towards making academics dominant over others, which is not only upheld by Marxist social scientists but also by positivists, empiricists, and liberals (Poster, 1984, pp. 76-78).

Some advice on how to become a critic explains, in part, what is criticism: Read anything and everything inside and outside the canon: novels, essays, poems, and criticism, and talk to other people about what you read. Learn about the social sciences: anthropology, history, sociology, and social psychology. Become acquainted with linguistics and philosophy. Experience the performing arts and various media such as cinema, and become literate about appreciation and production. Develop a sense of the past as contemporary stories about people in other cultures and different times. Become familiar with the methods and theories of historiography. None of this is to exclude learning about other domains such as mathematics, physics, or chemistry, and professional fields such as engineering, communications, business, or education.

There is much need for humanistic criticism to balance technoscience. Nearly all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today, and functionalist points of view have been strengthened by the exponential growth in the scientific establishment. Jay tells students (1990, pp. 336-37):

The worth of humanities courses lies precisely in the degree of their refusal of a technological, quantitative, absolutist, or correspondence model of truth. Here, on the contrary, is a laboratory for discovering the rules by which truths have been produced, the value systems these truths have supported, and the historical consequences of such discourses and institutions.

Criticism is necessary to comprehend the political mechanisms for deciding what is and is not real. With experience, it becomes apparent that the purification of language, much like Socrates rejecting the teaching of Lysias, is achieved by elevating expository writing above fiction. Neel explains it this way: "The really important disciplines-philosophy and math first, then history and literature-deal with ideas. The really practical disciplines-physics, biology, and chemistry first, then engineering, computer science, and business-describe the world and keep it running" (1988, p. 174). There is widespread complicity in neutralizing the power of writing towards maintaining a merely functional reality. Writing can be totalitarian and serve as an authoritarian stabilizer.

It should be understood that critical theory does not exist in isolation, representing the humanities alone, but is related to work in the social sciences in conceptual theorizing and qualitative investigation. There is considerable interdisciplinary crossover between critical theory and social theory. A comparison of recent anthologies from each area supports this relationship. Collected in Social Theory: The Multicultural & Classic Readings by Lemert (1993) are 88 writers. Critical Theory Since Plato by Adams (1971) has 102 selections from intellectuals, including saints, nobles, and professors, dating from antiquity to the middle of the 1960s. The authors also chosen by Lemert for Social Theory are Roland Bartbes, Friedrich Engels, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx. Critical Theory Since 1965 by Adams and Searle (1986) has 56 selections from contemporaries. The authors also chosen by Lemert for Social Theory are Louis Althusser, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Max Horkheimer, Jacques Lacan, Georg Lukdcs, Ferdinand de Saussure, and Claude Lévi-Strauss, whose essay on "The Structural Study of Myth" is the only duplicate text selection.

This is a cautious demonstration: Adams and Searle's 1986 collection went to press several years before Lemert's 1993 collection. Adams's second edition of Critical Theory Since Plato appeared in 1992 and contains more writings from outside the Western canon. To include unknowns along with greats is a current trend. Lemert points out (1993, p. 663) that there are less than obvious problems with representing theories and intellectual patterns with figures who are well known. Such exclusive modeling may contribute to political marginalization and to the narrowness of dogmatic tradition, but there is tremendous value in making a start. Although critical theory is not centered on political activists, economists, or present-day mainstream sociologists, Adams and Searle (1986) also overlap with Lemert's selections (1993) by making references to Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Ruth Benedict, Emile Durkheirn, Friedrich Engels, Frantz Fanon, Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm, Harold Garfinkel, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Erving Goffman, Eirgen Habermas, William James, V. 1. Lenin, Jean-Frangois Lyotard, Karl Mannheim, Karl Marx, Talcott Parsons, Richard Rorty, Georg Simmel, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Max Weber, and Virginia Woolf.

The final score shows that 32 of Lemert's 88 social thinkers (1993) are also considered as major contributors to critical theory by Adams (1971) and Adams and Searle (1986).

Many of these authors are stimulating to read because they write with originality and brilliance seldom encountered in the education literature. This can be attributed to their more imaginative, creative, literary modes of thinking and expression through criticism. Ong, a long-established critic best known for an outstanding history of the relationship between mind and media (1982), provides a description of the analytical technique (1971, p. 1161):

Although it is not to be equated with science, criticism is in some degree explanation, and has something of this same scientific bent. Unless it is to be itself a poem, criticism of a poem must involve some elucidation. Its ultimate object may be to introduce the reader more fully into the mystery which is the poem, but its technique will be to some extent 11 clear up" certain things.

An observation by a second-generation American poststructuralist gives an example of the use of criticism for the development of new knowledge (Johnson, 1980, p. xii):

The "unknown" is not what lies beyond the limits of knowledge, some unreachable, sacred, ineffable point toward which we vainly yearn. It lies, rather, in the oversights and slip-ups that structure our lives in the same way that an X makes it possible to articulate an algebraic equation....It is not, in the final analysis, what you don't know that can or cannot hurt you. It is what you don't know you don't know that spins out and entangles "that perpetual error we call life."

Criticism results in "the critical work that thought brings to bear on itself' and is tested by writing essays (Foucault, 1985, pp. 8, 9). The intellectual tools, processes, and products of criticism are invoked by the fall quotation:

There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all. People will say, perhaps, that these games with oneself would be better left backstage; or, at best, that they might properly form part of those preliminary exercises that are forgotten once they have served their purpose. But, then, what is philosophy today-philosophical activity, I mean-if it is not the critical work that thought brings to bear on itself? In what does it consist, if not in the endeavor to know how and to what extent it might be possible to think differently, instead of legitimating what is already known? (Foucault, 1985, pp. 8, 9).

The next section identifies important sources of postmodern and poststructural thinking. Starting with the writings cited here will reduce the confusion of encountering the unfamiliar. Readers seeking to understand postmodern and poststructural work in educational communications and technology will benefit by beginning their reading with the originals. Both terms are philosophical and political, but writers of varying quality and credentials use and misuse postmodern and poststructural as synonyms. Despite convergent interests in practical matters, postmodern theory tends to be more social, and poststructural theory is more literary in its points of view.

10.5.4 Reading the Postmodern

We are at the end of what is called The Modern Age. Just as Antiquity was followed by several centuries of Oriental ascendancy, which Westerners provincially call The Dark Ages, so now The Modem Age is being succeeded by a post-modem period (Mills, 1959, pp. 165-66).

To explain what is meant by modem is to attempt describing the spirit of the industrial age sweeping across centuries, continents, and cultures. Nevertheless, the episteme of modernity as a historically constructed discursive practice may be expressed through such an archeological approach (Foucault, 1970/1972, pp. 190-92). As modem times have not yet fully passed, it may also be a mirror of contemporary ideals, too. The tone and jargon of a pair of electronic-mail postcards illuminates the discussion of modernity:

Received your last two notes. Thanks! I am just now sitting down with a host of ideas for my part of the handbook. Will send you something soon, for your perusal. I had been looking for a captivating opening sentence or paragraph, and finally found the one I wanted. Of course, I may change in midstream, but that is OK. I have been spending some time at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and reading about postmodernism in the fine arts. And now I have loads of (relevant) ideas!

My opening sentence? Here it is: "Postmodernism' What do you think? Anyway, I am now working on the second sentence. (D. Hlynka, personal communication, March 15, 1993, 9:32 a.m.)

I suggest narrational framing:

"Postmodernism?" The other author replied by e-mail, "Not so much AFTER nor so much dogmatic ISM as a recognition of the MODERN that requires beginning with 'Postmodernism?"' (A. R. J. Yeaman, personal communication, Mar. 15, 1993, 11:12 a.m.)

The modem age was a Way of conceptualizing Western history as the present in relation to the past. It was the time when Western society was industrializing and technoscience praised so highly that empirical thinking was applied to predicting what people would do. Certainty and control were gained at the price of losing understanding, and in the last 50 years vast numbers of people have been endangered by technology (Glendinning, 1990, pp. 18-20).

The general idea of Western civilization undergoing a course of evolutionary progress through scientific, technological developments preceded the influence of Auguste Comte, René Descartes, Benjamin Franklin, Immanuel Kant, and Claude Henri Saint-Simon, but is best expressed by their projects of enlightenment. Modernism is this belief in science, technology, and rationalization of productive activities for the good of 0. Modem explanations of society in terms of solving human problems with factual knowledge, and this process leading to autonomy, have received varying degrees of acceptance, refinement, and rejection. Writing in this decade, Ritzer presents McDonald's hamburger restaurants as the exemplar case of modernity (1993). Ritzer compares the systematicity of running fastfood business with the iron cage theory (Weber, 1905/1993) that rationalization results in inflexibility and false promises of improvement. Ritzer explains McDonaldization as the central bureaucratic process of modernity:

Formal rationality means that the search by people for the optimum means to a given end is shaped by rules, regulations, and larger social structures.... In effect, people no longer had to discover for themselves the optimum means to an end; rather, optimum means had already been discovered and were institutionalized in rules, regulations, and structures. People simply had to follow the rules, regulations, and dictates of the structure (p. 19).

Earlier Mills bad parted with mainstream sociologists in the post-Second World War era by engaging in modern, self-reflective thinking (1959). Mills declares that the past two centuries of enlightenment have not achieved their objective and "The ideas of freedom and of reason have become moot; that increased rationality may not be assumed to make for increased freedom" (p. 167). A theoretical explanation is given:

Those in authority attempt to justify their rule over institutions by linking it, as if it were a necessary consequence, with widely believed-in moral symbols, sacred emblems, legal formulae.... Social scientists, following Weber, call such conceptions "legitimations," or sometimes "symbols of justification" (p. 36).

This early postmodern assessment meshes with the theory of metanarratives, determining what is knowledge in The Postmodern Condition (Lyotard, 1984). Although a common sociological and philosophical ground is shared with Habermas, who remains modern (1984, 1987), the interpretations are irreconcilable. (A balanced synopsis of the divergent positions is given by Toulmin (1990, pp. 172-74) in Cosmopolis. Deleuze's Foucauldian position on education is also postmodern and italicized in the original: "Just as the corporation replaces the factory, perpetual training tends to replace the school, and continuous control the examination" (1992, p. 5). This continues Deleuze's earlier work in collaboration with Guatarri (1983, 1987), where a sort of social masochism is identified and italicized: "Training axiom-destroy the instinctive forces in order to replace them with transmitted forces" (Deleuze & Guatarri, 1987, p. 155). The matter of cultural discontinuity is discussed further as a contemporary philosophical and political issue in The Postmodern Explained (Lyotard, 1992).

The idea of these times being postmodern, in that modem self-reflections show that rational societies have defeated their own ideals, is changing all areas of professional study and academic discipline. For example, an authoritative review chapter by Agger provides a recent account of influences on sociology (1991). Smart (1992) gives a detailed analysis including rereadings of McLuhan (1964) and Toffler (1980). A more global account is provided in a sequel (Smart, 1993). Postmodern thinking is applied in depth to education theory and practice by Lather in Getting Smart (1991). A brief overview for art educators is provided by MacGregor (1992). Qualitative scholarship on postmodern theory and its application deserves meticulous attention, and Mills's chapter "On Intellectual Craftsmanship" is highly recommended (1959, pp. 195-226).

Gore's AERA paper (1994) reports the work of a research group studying Foucault's (1977) analyses of power relations. Quasi-quantitative coding categories were developed for these activities as the mechanisms of schooling: surveillance, normalization, exclusion, distribution, classification, individualization, totalization, regulation, space, time, knowledge, and techniques or practices directed at the self by a researcher, a teacher, or a student (pp. 9, 10). The potential risk of "taming" Foucault (p. 24) is judged to be outweighed by the possibilities for fruitful theorizing and reconsidering practice.

Postmodern study of the same text is also demonstrated by a strikingly aware journal entry from a graduate seminar (B. Dallman, personal communication, Oct. 15, 1992). The seminar had been reading "Me Means of Correct Training" (Foucault, 1984, pp. 188-205):

The day before I read this, I discussed the possibility of obtaining a waiver for the GRE with Marty [Tessmer]. After determining this was not likely, I felt disturbed but couldn't really articulate my feelings until reading this article.... It is as though the notion of disciplinary power was manifesting itself in higher education.... The notion of ritual and examination is a form of power that can repress individuals as well as empower them.

10.5.5 Reading the Poststructural

Structuralism, as it were, closed in Baltimore on opening night (Searle, 1986, p. 857).

The Ford Foundation provided funds for a massive 2-year program of seminars and colloquia to augment North American humanistic criticism and social science with French structuralist theory in cultural anthropology, semiology, sociology, and psychoanalysis, among other pertinent disciplines. Among the intellectuals flown across the Atlantic were stars, including Roland Barthes, Lucien Goldman, Jean Hyppolite, Jacques Lacan, and Tzvetan Todorov. See the proceedings edited by Macksey and Donato (1970/1972).

The commonly held structural belief was in language as the model of thought, that language is the model for everything including beliefs and behavior. Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982) quote the premier structuralist Claude L6vi-Strauss's Totemism (1963, p. 16). éThe ellipsis and the italicized emphases were added by Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982, p. xvi):

The method we adopt... consists in the following operations:

  1. Define the phenomenon under study as a relation between two or more terms, real or supposed.
  2. Construct a table of possible permutations between these two terms.
  3. Take this table as the general object of analysis, which, at this level only, can yield necessary connections, the empirical phenomenon considered at the beginning being only one possible combination among others, the complete sys tem of which must be reconstructed beforehand.

However, structuralism was being reconsidered from within for ignoring historical cultural practices. This was due to French interest in German phenomenology (see 38.2). Also see Greene (1994, pp. 429-30) and Hyppolite (1966/1972). One of the critics was Jacques Derrida, who had written on Husserl's phenomenological critique of science (1962/1989) after spending a year at Harvard in the late 1950s. Invited back to the United States for the first Ford Foundation meeting at Johns Hopkins University, Derrida (1966/1972, p. 258) quoted from L6vi-Strauss's The Raw and the Cooked (1964, p. 25): "Myths have no authors," and commented (italics in the original):

Thus it is at this point that ethnographic bricolage deliberately assumes its mythopoetic function. But by the same token, this function makes the philosophical or epistemological requirement of a center appear as mythological, that is to say a historical illusion.

In the discussion afterwards Derrida offered further clarification (1966/1972, p. 268):

How to define structure? Structure should be centered. But this center can be either thought, as it was classically, like a creator, or being, or a fixed and natural place; or also as a deficiency, let's say; or something which makes possible "free play," in the sense in which one speaks of the jeu dans la machine, of the jeu des piices, and which receives-and this is what we call history-a series of determinations, of signifiers, which have no signifieds [signifl6s] finally, which cannot become signifiers except as they begin from this deficiency.

Derrida was not alone among the European visitors in charting a revitalized trajectory for the humanities and the social sciences, and among other influential papers was Barthes' "To Write: An Intransitive Verb?" (1966/1972). Nonetheless, an important outcome was enthusiasm for Derrida among professors at prestigious universities in the United States where Derrida's ideas were soon disseminated (see Lamont, 1987). This was helped by Derrida's publishing three more books in the next year: Speech and Phenomena (1967/1973), Of Grammatology (1967/1976), and Writing and Difference (1967/1978). Derrida received visiting professor appointments, further scholarly sponsorship, and translation into English by advocates. Today Derrida is probably the world's most well-known and respected living philosopher. While it is still accepted that all cultural activities can possibly be read as if they were language, the roles of readers and authors-including anthropologists and humanities scholars-have changed now that Derrida has shown method to be uncertain.

Poststructuralism was the label generated by the Americans to account for what had happened. Roudinesco reveals the deep feelings, undercurrents, and personalities involved at the critical event in 1966 (1990, pp. 407-13). More than routine academic conflict had surfaced. Subsequently, Piaget's Structuralism invokes only Barthes' earlier work, does not mention Derrida, and gives Foucault, probably Derrida's most cogent professor, a makeover (1968/1970). Piaget first disparages Foucault for lack of method and then assimilates Foucault as a constructivist (pp. 128-35). Ironically Le Structuralisme was published the same year as Lestvinements when the students' slogan was "Structuralism is dead" (Gardner, 1973, p. 214).

Two excellent anthologies of Derrida's writings are available by Attridge (1992) and Kamuf (1992). They include intelligent commentaries. Along with a distrust of formal method as in structuralism smuggling in the meaning it discovers, Derrida reinterpreted Saussurian difference between signs with a neologism: différance, whereby one thing is partly defined by the other but is nevertheless present while being omitted. The politics of différance recognize the patriarchal marginalization of women and racial minorities. The word most associated with Derrida is deconstruction, which is a term from Heidegger for the examination of foundational issues [see Hlynka & Yeaman, (1992) and Yeaman (1994c, 1994d, 1994e)]. Curiously, a "desire to domesticate deconstruction" into a professorial method tends to thwart its playful implications for theories of meaning (Lather, 1992, p. 132).


Figure 10-1. This is an example of a signifier with nothing signified (except to signify that there can be a signifier with nothing signified except to signify that there can be a signifier with nothing signified except to signify that there can be a signifier ... ). (Original caption; Illustration by Andrew Yeaman.) From "Deconstruction and visuals: Is this a telephone?" by Andrew R. J. Yeaman, p. 325, in D. M. Moore & F. M. Dwyer, eds. Visual literacy: a spectrum of visual learning. Copyright 0 1994 by Educational Technology Publications. Reprinted with permission.

There has been widespread diffusion of Derrida's poststructural work; see, for example, Deconstructive Criticism by Leitch (1983); What Is Deconstruction? by Norris and Benjamin (1988); and Deconstruction: Omnibus Volume by Papadakis, Cooke, and Benjamin (1990). Self-scrutiny has been inspired in areas of knowledge unwittingly shaped by structuralism. As a result, there are occurrences of postmodern resistance. For a scholarly example, see Figures 10- 1 and 10-2, which apply poststructural thinking to visual literacy and visual communication. Using a can of spray paint to write Robert Mapplethorpe AIDS Research Center on a university building named for U.S. Senator Robert Dole is only renaming, but it may be a theoretical beginning (Martin, 1992, p. 18 1). For social examples of political impact, see Penley (1991) and Treichler (1991), whose work on technology addresses women and HIV/AIDS, respectively. Similarly, Poovey's argument for deconstruction as a feminist analytic tool refuses to allow deconstruction to become academically bland and apolitical (1988). Cherryholmes's Power and Criticism provides a poststructural review of education theory and practice (1988). Structuralist foundations exposed include Mager's behavioral objectives (1962/1984) and Bloom's taxonomy (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill & Krathwohl, 1956).

Foucault was not present at the eventful conference in Baltimore but was mentioned several times. "The Discourse on Language," Foucault's first public lecture at the College de France, will be helpful to anyone interested in learning about the demands of intellectual critique after structuralism (1970/1972, pp. 215-37).

When looking at art, art theory, and criticism as this century ends, a poststructural conclusion is inevitable: "What is clear is that Barthes and Derrida are the writers, not the critics, that students now read" (Krauss, 1986, p. 295). When looking at reading and writing, the massive long-term profits of the Ford Foundation's investment in criticism, and the subsequent transition from structural to poststructural theory, may be judged by this report in DeVaney's AECT conference paper (1989, pp. 21-22):


In American schools, deconstruction is a political force to be reckoned with. Not only has its theory and practice infiltrated many English, foreign-language, and other humanities departments in institutions of higher learning, but officers in the powerful Modern Language Association and the National Council of Teachers of English are prominent American deconstructionists.... As educational technologists, interested in classroom practice, it then becomes of interest and concern to us.


Figure 10-2. A shoe? (Original caption; photograph by Robert Muffoletto.) This signifier is a photograph of an object like a shoe, possibly a hiking boot or a work boot. It is displayed on a box as if in an art class. It might be in a store but is not marked for sale and it looks worn. Who wears this shoe or boot? Conjectures like these follow Van Gogh's paintings that were labeled as shoes but appeared to depict boots; see Derrida (1987). Also see Foucault (I 982b) on Magritte's drawing Ceci n'est pas une pipe. Perhaps what is signified here is the uncertainty of any signification; see Muffoletto (1994a). From the series titled "Mentioned." Copyright @ 1989 by Robert Muffoletto. Reprinted with permission. Also published in "Representations: You, Me, and Them" by Robert Muffoletto, p. 304, in D. M. Moore & E M. Dwyer, eds. Visual literacy: a spectrum of visual learning. Copyright 0 1994 by Educational Technology Publications.


Consequently the receivers of messages are changing as a result . of poststructural theory spreading out through titles such as Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English (Scholes, 1985); The Art of Wondering: A Revisionist Return to the History of Rhetoric (Covino, 1988); the MLA's Contending with Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age (Harkin & Schilb, 1991); and the NCTE's books introducing teachers to deconstruction (Crowley, 1989) and to reader-response theories (Beach, 1993). Further, prominent traditionalists are amicable and intellectually receptive; see the interviews with Northrop Frye and Harold Bloom in Criticism in Society (Saluszinsky, 1987), as well as Doing Things with Texts: Essays in Criticism and Critical. Theory (Abrams, 1989) and The Electronic Word. Democracy, Technology, and the Arts (Lanham, 1993). In particular, these developments in rhetoric affect English teaching everywhere at all levels. The most visible group under pressure is the estimated 33,000 composition instructors and professors employed in the United States for the purpose of passing on the lore of how to write properly to 3-million adult students per term (Crowley, 1990, p. 139). In practice, not only is the writing and reading of memos and reports influenced but also the conduct of business, law, and politics.

Far from believing facts are facts and that facts are all that matters, or that nothing matters anymore because anything means any other thing, it is possible to reach past common sense traditions about communication. The ambiguity of noise has a necessary function as part of making sense. Idealized and impersonal qualities such as unity, coherence, and linearity may conceal the power of the author as authority. Conventions of writing may seek to define the readers in professional class terms. However, readers may rewrite a text by deconstructing its social values. On realizing these possibilities, a gain in literacy is predictable. Whether or not there is an increase in media analysis skills, designers of instruction will need to consider the ethics of their own intentions and reconsider the altered profile of their audiences. Despite that "From the 17th century onward, the Western world has associated truth with absolute, simple, scientific, truths," and that "Schools see themselves as preparing students to be trouble-free parts of the American industrial machine." Covino argues in a dramatization: "The best workers will be those who can create and analyze different patterns of information, those who are Dot locked into a limited format for thinking and writing" (1990, pp. 246-47). The future effect of poststructural thinking is checked by Gerbner's constraint: "No school or culture educates children for some other society. Giving teachers a messianic mission and having schools soak up all the dreams and aspirations citizens have for their children doom the enterprise to failure" (1974, p. 496). Nevertheless, it may be that poststructural learners will be less intellectually docile as classroom students and less malleable, after graduation, when exposed to new employee training (Yeaman, 1994c).

10.5.6 Postmodern and Poststructural Criticism in Educational Communications and Technology

The ongoing dilemma for educational communications and technology is that a sense of naive realism about technoscience may lead to utopian justifications. It is a predicament that technological systematization can, over time, result in excessively rigid procedures. These may negate the original assumptions but have become dogmatic tradition. [Despite being incommensurable with postmodern and poststructural theory, Bowers (1988, 1993) is cited here for support because of shared concern.] Towards understanding itself better, the field requires more nonreductionist, interpretive, qualitative investigations into education and training situations. Persistent rethinking based on postmodern and poststructural. theory is needed to ask "Who benefits from this application of technoscience?" and "What are the rational foundations of that which is regarded as reason?"

This position is documented and reinforced by chapters and articles in a special issue of Research & Theory: AECTRT0 Newsletter on reflective and critical points of view (Koetting, 1989); The Ideology of Images in Educational Media: Hidden Curriculums in the Classroom (Ellsworth & Whatley, 1990); a double issue of the Journal of Thought focusing on the social and cultural aspects of educational media (Robinson, 1990); Paradigms Regained: The Uses of Illuminative, Semiotic and Post-modem Criticism as Modes of Inquiry in Educational Technology (Hlynka & Belland, 1991); an ERIC Digest on Postmodern Educational Technology (Hlynka & Yeaman, 1992); Computers in Education: Social, Political, and Historical Perspectives (Muffoletto & Knupfer, 1993); Visual literacy: A Spectrum of Visual Learning (Moore & Dwyer, 1994); and Watching Channel One: The Convergence of Students, Technology, and Private Business (De Vaney, 1994c). A Representative State-of-the-Art Study. Consider Watching Channel One as an exemplary investigation (De Vaney, 1994c). The contributors range across the theory spectrum, but all report reputable findings about the broadcast of news television into schools, along with mandatory commercials. Authentic details have been gathered. The commercial force behind putting Channel One in schools was the same corporation that placed advertising posters in dentists' and physicians' waiting rooms. The California and North Carolina state legal debates over the ethics of selling of students' instructional time make a dynamic comparison. Wiring was installed in some schools in ways that violated electrical code. The standards for high-quality broadcasting that had initially been shown to school boards and administrators, but apparently were not maintained once the contracts were signed, are reprinted in Watching Channel One.

There are postmodern and poststructural chapters. While the field descriptions and survey data take the readers into the schools, the poststructural media analyses help readers understand the television programming. An immediate contrast with teacher-centered lecture is apparent in the fast pacing of the show. A mind experiment gives immediate results: No one can rapidly read superficial, unrelated news facts from note cards, one topic per card, to a class and be said to fulfill the role of a teacher. Televising the same presentation of headlines, read from a teleprompter in a sensational voice by an actress or an actor, is offered as education.

De Vaney's chapter on "Reading the Ads" connects with some far-reaching implications (1994b). Both the Channel One program and the commercials communicate in the MTV style and are produced especially for the student audience. They are postmodern and "display the 'relieved state' which a product is supposed to produce, without presenting the prior state which a product is supposed to relieve" (p. 144). These ads work by conveying "a fractured narrative with fragmented images of a trouble-free, often celebratory life." Rather than the limited descriptive capabilities of content analysis for analyzing these postmodern ads, a poststructural reading is preferred. A Pringles ad is carefully read as a text about encouraging the consumption of corn chips. The effectiveness of the reading comes from verbalizing the fractured narrative and the fragmented images. The result is that the Pringles commercial's fascinatingly effective erotic metaphor is revealed. While teenagers cannot stop themselves from absorbing information via this medium, efforts should be made to teach them how to be visually literate so they can read the screen as they would read a text. The need to promote conscious understanding of media is a worthwhile message and is a valuable product of research. It should converge with the interest in poststructural analysis in English, classrooms. For related work, also see De Vaney's inquiry into the racism and sexism of an award-winning, best-selling educational computer program (1993) and discussion of the ethical problems surrounding the portrayal of African Americans in feature films (1994a). Where Poetics and Politics Meet. The work of Ulmer is seldom cited in educational communications and technology, but it provides a meaningful postmodern and poststructural bridge from the humanities (1985). There are few connections between these two areas, but there is potential for rapport. How media is understood has long been a research topic of educational communications and technology. How people can learn to understand and use media not only presents a fruitful area for investigation but also has a different politics.


Figure 10-3. Nine ideas for postmodern instructional design. (Illustration by Andrew Yeaman.) From "Deconstructing Modem Educational Technology" by Andrew R. J. Yeaman, Educational Technology (Vol. 34, No. 2), Feb. 1994, p. 21. Copyright ©1994 by Educational Technology Publications. Reprinted with permission.

As an English professor, Ulmer is located at the point where poetics and politics meet. Ulmer explores the use of media literacy skills for personal expression to combat the reductionist ideologies of realism and individualism (1994). Ulmer suggests novel ways that students in English classes can use media, particularly video, that are self-expressive and freeing: "Write a my story bringing into relation your experience with three levels of discourse.... Arrange the entries to highlight the chance associations that appear among the three levels" (1989, p. 209). 'Work on grammatology and hypermedia (Ulmer, 1992) influenced Hlynka's creation of a hypertext on poststructuralist literary theory, information technology, and ethnic studies (1993). Ethics and Social Responsibility. A special issue of Educational Technology in February 1994 addressed the ethical position of educational communications and technology in society. The articles examine the ethics of the field as social responsibility and seek to encourage more interest in cultural analysis. The introductory essay by Yeaman, Nichols, and Koetting (1994) explains that the papers come from two research and theory symposia where presenters applied critical theory to provide insight into foundational aspects of the field. The sessions took place at the AEC7 Conferences in Washington, D.C., in 1992, and in New Orleans in 1993. The declared socially responsible ethic of educational communications and technology is to facilitate humane learning, but that goal is rarely discussed, perhaps due to the emphasis on performance and function. Questions about facilitating humane learning neither dominate the literature nor the Conferences: What is humane learning? Why is humane learning believed to be important? How can humane learning be achieved? What is the role of educational communications and technology in humane learning?

The authors appearing in the special issue share roots in an intellectual genealogy from which they develop ethical conscience through a humanities approach. They are part of an invisible college centered around the educational communications and technology programs at the Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their articles are based in the humanistic, nonpositivistic theories of criticism and include the critical theory of the Frankfurt school, feminist theory, and postmodern and poststructural theory.

Yeaman deconstructs two modem beliefs of educational technology: the telephone metaphor for communication and the systems approach to instruction (1994c). Yeaman ends with a draft agenda for a postmodern educational technology. See Figure 10-3 for the suggestions about instructional design.

According to Muffoletto (1994c), accepting the social agenda of technology results in conducting education through business management procedures. Muffoletto asks: Who will be in charge of restructuring technology in education? Distinctions are made between rethinking education and rethinking schools, between technology in education and educational technology. Educational reform unjustly blames teachers for society's problems and may cause teachers to be replaced with machines.

In "The Rite of Right or the Right of Rite: Moving Towards an Ethics of Technological Empowerment," Anderson puts forward the position that educational technology does not need professional ethics so much as it needs a sense of ethics that goes beyond control and consensus (1994).

Damarin states that women's issues are different issues (1994). The core issue of equity is not so much giving women equal access to the privileges of traditional power structures but giving women equal power through their own privileges. Damarin asks if instructional systems can encompass the feminist ethic of caring.

Nichols declares that there is no clear dividing line between educational technology and educational biotechnology, which intrudes into people's bodies and into the world ecology (1994). This link is first explored through Habermas's theoretical framework. Nichols goes on to describe Rorty's liberal irony that accepts immutable differences between people, despite the possibility of moral progress through a common understanding of cruelty. Then Nichols turns to Barrett in looking beyond rationality and the shared abhorrence of pain. In striving for moral will, faith in the spiritual is necessary through rituals such as prayer. However, a contradiction appears: Should one seek to be willful or will-less? Nichols concludes that there is an implied hope for conversation to continue.

In "Marginalizing Significant Others: The Canadian Contribution to Educational Technology," Hlynka points out that a sort of perceptual deficiency has concealed the importance of Canadian intellectuals (1994).

Muffoletto questions the ethics of social reality founded on the cultural values of industry and science (1994b). Information, how it is represented, and how learning takes place, are all shaped by that social, reality. Critical theory is essential to school reform that recognizes those modem assumptions and strives to put democracy into practice.

Koetting views schooling as a political arena for social ethics and gives guidance towards the practice of critical pedagogy (1994).

In "Where in the World Is Jacques Derrida?" the branching text introduces Derrida's ideas according to readers' preferences and needs: facts, poetics, pragmatics, and further reading (Yeaman, 1994e). Postmodern Cyborgs. The assertion that there is no clear division between people and their artifacts cannot be trivialized and dismissed. Scientists and technologists must look to anthropologists, historians, and sociologists to comprehend their own work. Field studies and library studies of research show that far from techno scientific knowledge being the unveiled truth about nature, it is influenced by cultural factors such as normative pressures, economic motivations, linguistic competencies, and technologies for instrumentation and implementation (Locke, 1992). This is a typical instance of the processes of systematization, industrialization, mechanization, computerization, and the legitimation of knowledge affecting the question of identity discussed earlier in this chapter. Warnings about robotism and slavery (Fromm, 1955) were not effective, and automatization is probably not reversible. Although the cyborgs concept is expressed in popular culture as science fiction, there is an underlying social reality (Haraway, 1991, pp. 149-81) that returns to the issue of fact versus fiction mentioned previously.

Investigative work on postmodern cyborgs is a current object of research in educational communications and technology. The critical approaches of poststructural theory are being applied in the writing of humanistic essays. An informal network has been formed internationally as the Cyborg Collective. Formal presentations about the new species are made at conferences, and the work is receiving publication.

Bromley delivered "Do Cyborg Dreams Emancipate Sheep?" at Bergamo in 1992. Bromley describes school restructuring in terms of cybernetics, the production of student cyborgs, and uses the benefits employers receive from computers being placed in schools as a channel for exploring how education is rapidly becoming part of the global economy.

Damarin's 1994 AERA paper "Would You Rather Be a Cyborg or a Goddess? On Being a Teacher in a Postmodern Century" relates directly to Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto" (1991). Damarin's feminist work on the cyborg theme is a continuation of "Technologies of the Individual: Women and Subjectivity in the Age of Information," which appeared in Research in Philosophy and Technology (1993) and recent writings such as "Women and Information Technology" (1992) and "Feminist Unthinking and Educational Technology" (199 1).

In the Modem Machines and Postmodern Cyborgs; session at the 1994 AECT conference in Nashville, there were cyborg papers given by Anderson (1994), Jamison (1994a), and Yeaman (1994b). The papers by Jamison (1994a) and by Yeaman (1994b) were submitted to The Electronic Journal on Virtual Culture for masked review and were accepted for refereed publication.

The paper "Cyborgian Orgasm: A Mythology of Educational Organizational Bliss" deals with the technology serving people fantasy, the human-versus-technology dilemma, and the transcendence to a human-technology merger through cyborgs (Anderson, 1994). Anderson draws on the social construction and representation of computers in education to present a postmodern reading of pictures, essays, and focus group discussions by 100 undergraduate teacher education majors. The "Cyborgian Orgasm" paper concludes by asking educators to explore critically educational possibilities afforded by new technologies and broaden the discussion that associates the use of technology with progress.

In Jamison's "Contradictory Spaces: Pleasure, Comedy and the Seduction of the Cyborg Discourse," the cyborg image acts to deconstruct the finality of meaning in instructional development (1994a). Jamison argues that the examination of the cyborg as a discourse of pleasure, comedy, and seduction provides educators the opportunity to pursue questions of meaning, relationship, and contradiction:

  1. What tension lies in a discourse that envisions machines as facilitators of social relationships?
  2. If social reality and experience are the basis for education, how is the meaning of memory, time, body, movement, and expression represented in the cyborg discourse?
  3. How do cyborgs name social reality?
  4. How do cyborgs symbolize the paradox of human visions of social and machine reality?
  5. How does the cyborg suggest contradictory meanings about education and technology?
  6. What motifs in the cyborg discourse represent the contradictory themes of power and empowerment in social reality?
  7. How does the cyborg discourse form a representation that is either like a human being or unlike one? What does this representation come to mean in education? How does" the cyborg teach?
  8. How does the cyborg design?
  9. How does the cyborg name education? How do pleasure and comedy assist the reconceptualization of instructional development?
  10. How does the cyborg discourse assist the reconceptualization of instructional development?

The "Cyborgs Are Us" article shows that the aesthetics of criticism can bring about awareness of cyborg fictions as a social anaesthetic (Yeaman, 1994b). Another purpose is to demonstrate writing as a way of exploring the social reality of cyborgs. Several genres are employed: A science fiction story tells readers "All My Teachers Were Cyborgs"; a poem with puns provides the "Concluding Summery: A Virtual Idyll"; factual third-person narrative prose follows the tabloid headline "Do Motherboards Bake Apple Pies?"; and scholarly first-person writing is used for the case study reporting of "Three Cases of Cyborgization." The analysis sections are autobiography, which is a genre recommended for qualitative research in education; see Gates (1991), Grumet (1990, 1992), and hooks (1990). Ibis cyborg work continues from poststructural criticism of computer anxiety empiricism as mythmaking (Yeaman, 1993). Among the results were several provocative observations towards creating resistance (Yeaman, 1994a, pp. 70-71):

  • Computers are sold to schools, as to any other customer, by corporations whose central concern is to produce profits.
  • Computers in schools increase public knowledge about bow to use computers, and that increase facilitates sales and the rate of adoption.
  • Computers are vehicles for social stratification.
  • Computers are not easy to use and are difficult to learn to use well.
  • Computers do not always work well.
  • Computers are not always useful.
  • Computers can be a hindrance to getting things done.
  • Computers-to-students ratios are a false measure of the quality of education.

The convergence of educational communications and technology with information technology may match this projected history of computers in education (Yeaman, 1994a, p. 71):

Somewhere between 1980 and 2030, a point would be reached where computers existed among all classes. It is hardly a coincidence that this diffusion should occur at the exact moment when the developments of the information revolution would demand a greater computerization of labor.

The "Cyborgs Are Us" investigation (Yeaman, 1994b) is followed by a case study about the social construction of instructors as cyborgs (Yeaman, 1995). Media analysis of a video about the dangers of television carts leads to its identification as propaganda. However, the psychological use of guilt to ensure compliant behavior only explains part of the video's effect. In the social context there are questions about who identifies "risk," who is "responsible," and why instructors have become fused with equipment and systems and made into cyborgs. Control is being internalized.

Poststructural techniques are particularly appropriate here. They function well in demystifying modem myths and can untangle the rhetoric of systems to show how technologies are socially constructed (Pinch, Ashmore & Mulkay, 1992). A question is also raised about what the safety video might have been like if the people affected had been allowed to make decisions about the instructional messages and format, as in the advocacy work of the Arhus industrial designers such as Bødker, Greenbaum, and Kyng (1991).

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