Investigating popular writing : the theory and the practice

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation attempts to illustrate and analyse the theory and the practice of popular writing in South Africa. Within this study popular writing is seen as an example of innovative educational practice, attempting to establish creative alternatives to traditional, hierarchical knowledge-production. This subject has been chosen for investigation as it is seen as an important integral part of an alternative educational focus, which has come about due to oppositional "popular" pressure questioning and challenging hegemonic control of educational structures. The first part of the dissertation constitutes an analysis of the theoretical debate characterising popular writing in South Africa. It attempts to highlight the problems and tensions inherent in the defined purpose of popular writing, as well as investigate the realisable potential of that purpose. The second part of the dissertation focusses on the practice of popular writing. The INTERNATIONAL LABOUR RESEARCH AND INFORMATION GROUP has been chosen as an illuminative case study of popular writing practice. An attempt is made within this section at a fusion between theory and practice evidencing both tensions and points of agreement. The conclusion highlights the problematic nature of this research as it essentially focusses on "work-in-progress" and therefore constitutes too static a framework for realistic, up-to-date analysis. The need for further research is emphasised, focussing especially on the most important and most complex element in popular writing: the readership.

Bibliography: pages 128-133.