Cultural Reproduction And Cultural Critique In The Antelope Valley


Jennifer C. Cool

A Thesis Presented to the
Faculty Of The Graduate School
University Of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree
(Visual Anthropology)
August 1993

Copyright 1993 Jennifer C. Cool

Let me begin by reminding you of the fact that the possession of true thoughts means everywhere the possession of invaluable instruments of action.

William James
Pragmatism, Lecture VI


N.B. The research discussed in this paper has also been the basis of a documentary film entitled Home Economics produced at the Center for Visual Anthropology and available through New Day Films, (201)652-1989.


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Many people have provided me invaluable instruments of action with which to undertake the work this thesis represents. First, I would like to thank my thesis committee: Eugene Cooper, Janet Hoskins and Michael Dear, for their advice, patience and support. All have been excellent teachers and I am grateful for their instruction. Second, I am indebted to Nancy Lutkehaus for her unfailing assistance in my scholarly endeavors and her commitment to scholarship in its widest sense. I also wish to thank Daniel Dayan for helping me frame my inquiry and for his kind encouragement when my ideas were still in an incipient stage. To James Holston, whose course on social theory shaped my graduate studies, I also extend appreciation for sound advice and high expectations. My final academic acknowledgments go to Clark Arnwine, Stacy Rowe, Michael Kowalski and Amanda Crane. These colleagues have sustained me with their indefatigable willingness to answer my myriad and miscellaneous queries at all hours of the natural day.

Finally, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those in Antelope Valley who diverted time and attention to assist me in my research. To my seven primary informants, whose pseudonyms appear in this work, I am most deeply indebted. Their willingness to share their thoughts, experiences and lives quite literally made this work possible. They are the experts of everyday life whose instruction has been invaluable to a young scholar pursuing anthropology's promise of cultural critique.

To my father whose egalitarianism and profound appreciation of the diversity and dignity of human experience taught me that I had no lessers; and to my mother whose elitism and insistence on excellence taught me that I had no betters. May my work contribute in some small way to realizing equality of being.

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