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Canadian Tv Sitcom as a Web site of Public Pedagogy


This research 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 research, 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 research. Then, I transfer on to debate the favored sitcom LMP as a bit of semi-counter-hegemonic cultural textual content. Within the findings and dialogue part, I current and analyze the analysis information 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 reveals is a follow of “cultural consumption” (Storey, 1996; Meyer, 2008). Cultural consumption refers to reception of or the engagement with cultural texts offered to the general public by way of mass media. Cultural consumption is just not merely a course of of buying or utilizing the cultural texts however includes the audiences making their very own which means from these texts (Meyer, 2008). Additional, these concepts about cultural consumption suggest that audiences—or “cultural customers” (Corridor, 1997; Kellner, 2015; Meyer, 2008)—at all times actively interpret, internalize, and use the cultural texts of their methods. The cultural customers might settle for, question, problem, or oppose concepts from the texts. They might act upon the concepts that they settle for of their each day life. They might attempt to search extra data concerning the concepts they question. They might take actions to advocate their very own opinions which have been supressed. Whether or not they’re conscious or not, cultural customers 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 influence of cultural consumption, significantly in relation to how cultural texts can each uphold and resist hegemonic assumptions (Armstrong, 2000; Jubas, 2015; Wright, 2007). They targeted extra on the resistance within the cultural texts and the potential they’ve for vital studying. I comply with these students, utilizing two important theoretical ideas to analyse LMP and its potential for vital 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 considered widespread sense by the vast majority of individuals, whereas actually widespread sense is constructed and transmitted by the highly effective elite class to guard their very own establishment and pursuits (Brookfield, 1998). Usually, the effectiveness of hegemony is just not realized by way of direct forces however typically by way of persuading individuals of their each day actions (Brookfield, 2005).

The second idea that I exploit to analyse my analysis information is Paulo Freire’s (1974) “vital consciousness”, which can also be known as vital transitive consciousness or vital consciousness in his e-book Training for Essential Consciousness. Freire has outlined vital consciousness with an in depth listing of traits (see Freire, 1974, web page 15). A tenet of getting vital consciousness is that individuals can mirror on their shared social context and positions and acknowledge everybody’s company (Freire, 1974). Growing vital consciousness requires individuals to have dialogues with others and the world (Freire, 1974). Having dialogues with the world signifies that individuals can actively mirror on the social, cultural, political, and financial contexts during which they’re dwelling. I assert that vital consciousness is especially essential for minorities, who are sometimes marginalized in a society. It’s because vital 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 research concerned six analysis contributors, three feminine and three males. They have been Chinese language worldwide college students finding out 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 have been non-Muslims and had nearly no direct contact with Muslims in actual life. following the format typically utilized in cultural research (Pickering, 2008), I invited contributors to observe 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 focus 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 research, I had many academic and life experiences that I assumed have been much 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 offered the on a regular basis lifetime of a Muslim neighborhood 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 in style nationally and internationally (primarily in Europe and North America) and gained many tv awards (Bredin, Henderson, & Matheson, 2012).

Muslims, as with different minority teams, typically 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 applications, comedian books, and different in style cultural texts as backwards and in a destructive gentle, which has been an ongoing and long-term situation (Arjana, 2017; Hamdon, 2018). In distinction, LMP depicted a gaggle of optimistic and progressive Muslims; though a really conservative Muslim character, Baber, was additionally portrayed. LMP additionally explicitly offered 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.

Alternatively, LMP nonetheless ignored 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 different 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, akin 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 the same scenario 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 points 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 at all times 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 typically comprise hegemonic assumptions which are considered widespread and optimistic (Kellner, 2015). Thus, it will be important for educators to acknowledge the educational potential of cultural texts and critically take into account 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’ fascinated with their very own social roles. I will even focus on my analysis findings by way of the lens of contemplating LMP as a pedagogical medium which may serve to arouse contributors’ vital consciousness. A small a part of the analysis information that I current right here was examined in one other paper (Liang, 2019). I re-analyse these information particularly from the angle of vital consciousness growth, a perspective that was not taken within the earlier paper.

Essential consciousness of understanding marginalized “others”

My analysis findings display that LMP, which overtly exposes Islamophobia, arouses customers’ vital consciousness to mirror on the general public picture of Muslims based on their very own observations in on a regular basis life. Members Kang, Hong, and Zhou gave the next feedback. Kang stated: “Individuals typically denigrate Muslims. That’s, so long as there are any points, akin to terrorist assaults or any related destructive social points, individuals at all times relate these points to Muslims and assume that the attackers are Muslims.” Hong said: “There are widespread misunderstandings and even xenophobia in opposition to Muslims dwelling 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, nonetheless, present that vital consciousness must be developed and extra dialogue is required for contributors to rethink their very own assumptions, significantly 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, nonetheless, 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 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.

Essential consciousness of fascinated with 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 in contact with any Muslims, the place does this particular person’s biases about Islam and its followers come from? Contemplating this query, contributors critiqued the mass media’s function in transmitting stereotyped opinions about Muslims. They made the next feedback:

Kang: I believe a lot of the biases come from media.

Zhou: Sure, I believe so. The facility of media is large. It brings a robust 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 typically barbarizes Muslims.

Members additionally mentioned a satirical state of affairs on the present during which a journalist held many hegemonic assumptions when asking a brand new Imam questions. In LMP, the journalist requested the Iman questions, akin to, “Who’re you? Are you denying you’re a terrorist?” Relating to this state of affairs, 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, akin to whether or not there may be genuine information in actual life given that every one information media and journalists have their very own standpoints. All in all, these findings point out that watching and discussing LMP prompts contributors’ vital consciousness to consider how media and journalists serve to (re)produce hegemonic values. The findings additionally display that LMP leads contributors to rethink perceive the authenticity of reports of their on a regular basis lives.

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

A state of affairs in LMP trigged contributors’ reconsideration about their social creativeness and social roles as Chinese language individuals dwelling in a Canadian society. Within the sitcom, Sarah Hamoudi, a secretary of the mayor (named Ann Popowicz), felt upset when she knew that her enterprise journey to China had been cancelled. Then, Popowicz consoled Sarah and stated that: “I’ll deliver you a real Chinese language purse. A knockoff Louis Vuitton bag.” Contemplating this state of affairs, 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 crucial for us to [pause], say, to be so delicate… This can be 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 may view and reply to destructive representations of China and Chinese language individuals in mass media. They got here to a standard view that many Chinese language audiences really feel uncomfortable with these destructive representations however they may select to maintain silent.

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

Zhou: We at all times simply maintain silent and immerse ourselves in work.

Jiang: Like a pushover.

Zhou: We’re the sort of people that typically mirror on our personal behaviors. For example, if our lives should not adequate, we are going to assume: We should always work more durable. There is no such thing as a excuse. To work more durable is the one factor we must 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 hassle. Do we have to trigger a lot hassle due to my knee?” Then, Rayyan answered, “It’s not about your knee. If you wish to change the world, you must make some noise.” Contemplating this case, I believe Chinese language individuals could have a really completely different concept. We’d say, “Is it too egocentric to do that? Simply to fulfill my private wants, do we’ve to recruit a feminine lifeguard?” Lastly, we are going to maintain silent, and we are going to regulate ourselves to that scenario.

Jiang: Or, not often, an individual stands up and claims our rights, however only a few individuals will echo.

The conversations offered 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; nonetheless, they have been upset 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 collect public signatures to request that the mayor rent a feminine lifeguard. Imagining and placing Chinese language individuals 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 individuals typically maintain silent. Regarding Zhou’s dialogue, different contributors nodded their heads or expressed concurrence in a gentle 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 individuals. On this research, LMP fostered contributors’ vital consciousness and made them rethink silence and why individuals had this attribute. In addition they mirrored upon how the silence of Chinese language individuals stop them from exercising their rights and asserting their company.


The findings of this qualitative research display that LMP can function a textual content to foster dialogue between cultural customers and the world. LMP helps to arouse cultural customers’ vital consciousness to consider the general public picture of Muslims that they be taught from their on a regular basis life. Discussing LMP with different individuals makes the cultural customers 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 mirror 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 customers’ vital consciousness.

There is no such thing as a query that my analysis findings give credit score to the argument that media has the ability to problem cultural customers’ assumptions about structural energy relations by way of casual studying. This argument has been famous within the scholarship exploring the pedagogical operate of cultural consumption (see Armstrong, 2000; Man, 2007; Jubas, 2015; Tisdell, Stuckey, & Thompson, 2007; Wright, 2007). Nonetheless, my analysis findings additionally notice that you will need to 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 customers usually tend to additional develop vital 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 instantly affect the customers’ viewpoints and behaviors. As well as, on condition that cultural customers deliver different views when decoding the texts, having discussions with educators and different learners is useful for cultural customers to achieve a complete notion concerning the subtext of cultural texts.

It is very important notice that there are a lot of abroad grownup learners in Canada; however this research targeted on just one group of worldwide, Chinese language college students. Additional research may very well be performed to incorporate adults who signify 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 in style tradition influences completely different grownup college students.


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