Strengths and Weaknesses of the Methods in Analyzing Cultural Texts and Practices Even as cultural studies continue to evolve, a debate among scholars on the most scientific and accurate methods in analyzing cultural texts and practices remains very much alive…
This paper attempts to present the strengths and weaknesses of the two methods. The text-centered method of analyzing culture is considered as imperative in studying social context. Norman Fairclough explains that the theoretical basis for this concept is based on the fact that text itself is the product of people’s perspectives on the society in which they belong. He also points out that “texts constitute a major source of evidence for grounding claims about social, structures, relations and processes.” (209) In relation to the aforementioned points, it is, therefore, clear that texts serve as effective means of achieving a profound understanding of culture and society. On the other hand, these also serve as powerful instruments of shaping or influencing culture and society, in general, as well. However, there is an apparent weakness in just limiting the analysis of culture and society according to what the text provides. The text itself may not be able to provide an accurate impression unless this is related to the actual conditions that surround it. According to Urpo Kovala, “the first characteristic of cultural analysis of texts… is that textual analysis be contextual.” (Cultural Studies and Cultural Text Analysis) It is by getting a more comprehensive picture, which may include knowing the author of the text and the personal and social conditions which he or she is in, that a better appreciation of the textual work produced is achieved. The text should, therefore, not be taken as it is but should be related to the context in which it was made. In this regard, its relevance or irrelevance should be understood through the reception of the readers or the receivers. Otherwise, textualism or the text-centered method could be outright weak. The weakness of the text-centered method of analyzing culture is that it tends to be detached from other conditions that may actually be related to the text itself. By merely relying on the text and disregarding the other aspects that may have influenced its deliverer or creator, analysis becomes vulnerable to one-sidedness and, ultimately, inaccuracy. The reaction of the audience, which is important in determining the practical relevance of the text, also tends to be disregarded when making a text-centered analysis. This inherent weakness of textualism is the reason why Douglas Kellner suggests three aspects to consider in employing a text-centered method in analyzing culture. These are the “production and political economy of culture; textual analysis and critique of its artifacts; and a study of audience reception and the uses of media/cultural products.” (Kellner 8) All three must be taken into consideration when analyzing culture using the text-centered method. It must be noted that Kellner already mentions the significance of audience impression. Therefore, in an attempt to overcome the weakness of the text-centered method, some concerns that centers on the audience has to be applied. Hence, the method actually loses its being absolutely text-centered. In New Keywords: The Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Terry Threadgold correctly sumps up the point that “the text is engage in a continuous play of meaning across the field on intertextuality… at the very least, the meaning is mobile, dispersed, and plural, since any text is always subject to the incessant movement of recontextualization.” ...
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