1 See Anderson 1989; McLaren and Giarelli 1995; Carspecken 1995; Lather 1991, 1997;
Levinson, Foley, and Holland 1996; Quantz 1992; Simon and Dippo 1986. Some
stress the dialogic and radically democratic means by which knowledge is pro-
duced, as well as the immediately transformative ends to which that knowledge is
directed (for example, Gitlin 1994; Lather 1991); in this sense, only a kind of
collaborative action research designed to raise awareness and empower can truly
be called critical ethnography. Others place emphasis on the conceptual frame-
work guiding the research and the production of knowledge; critical ethnography
is work that seeks to situate and understand local events in the context of broader
structural relations of power, and to direct such understanding toward more
expansive e√orts at structural change, including cultural critique (Carspecken
1995; Levinson, Foley, and Holland 1996). From this perspective, the oft-cited
goals of ‘‘empowerment’’ and ‘‘liberation’’ must themselves be subject to scrutiny
(Lankshear 1995; LeCompte 1995).
2 My vision of critical theory goes well beyond marxism and the Frankfurt school to
include feminist, critical race, practice, and postcolonial theories, among others.
For discussions of this broadened vision of a critical social theory, see Calhoun
1995; and Agger 1998. For applications of critical theory to educational studies, see
Morrow and Torres 1995.
3 Such an approach engages the postmodernist critique of normative discourse and
unitary subjects, while still opting for a critical and ‘‘tactical’’ humanism (Abu-
Lughod 1993; Knauft 1996), akin to what Charles Taylor (1989, 515) calls ‘‘anthro-
pologies of situated freedom.’’ It seeks a more modest ‘‘truth’’ and ‘‘objectivity’’
through a methodological reflexivity and close attention to ‘‘situated knowledge’’
(Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992; Haraway 1991; Harding 1992). Finally, it anchors
theoretical discourse, as much as possible, in the phenomenological life worlds of
ethnographers and research subjects (Jackson 1996).
1 Other linguistic and nonlinguistic ‘‘signifying practices’’ (Comaro√ 1985; Hebdige
1979)—such as music and dress preferences, church attendance, friendship a≈lia-
tion, and school ritual—entered into this strategic game, enabling students to
weave a complex tapestry of hope and desire, of sameness and di√erence.
2 ‘‘The image of the game without rules emphasizes [the involvement of individuals
in the social]. That is to say, if we can envisage a game in which both the objects of
play and the rules of play, the number and disposition of players, the very sense of
what the game is about are all alterable within the framework of the rule that