Folk devils in our midst : challenging the modernist museum paradigm
This thesis offers a polemical and problematising critique of the modernist paradigm as utilised by British museums, through an analysis of museums' representation, lack of representation, and misrepresentation of subcultural identities, histories, and material culture. It explores the notion of museums as disciplinary apparatus and agents of governance within a hegemonic society during the so-called postmodern epoch, and questions the possibility of the emergence of what Eilean Hooper-Greenhill has called the 'post-museum', whilst the modernist paradigm remains dominant.;The positive work that a number of museums are undertaking to challenge the paradigm and become more inclusive, democratic and reflexive, is recognised within this thesis. I Britain in general however, this force for change has been limited. In this context traditions are too entrenched; thus cutting edge institutions are rarely able to make far reaching fundamental changes. It is argued that until the dominance of the modernist paradigm over museums is broken, changes that are made will remain superficial. The modernist paradigm did a worthy job but now needs to be one model amongst many.;Focusing on museums' (mis)representation of subcultures highlights the inadequacies of the modernist museum paradigm. Subcultures are analogous to postmodernism: they represent flux and fragmentation; they cross various marginalised indices; gender, race, sexuality, youth, contemporary and popular cultural; their cultures are generated in opposition to disciplinary apparatus; they are the sites of substantial adaptable knowledge bases which are outside the dominant static knowledge base. Subcultures therefore manifest the threat of the postmodernist paradigm in way that is tangible and active.;Museums are under increasing pressure to adapt and to become relevant to the present society. It is argued that if they remain incongruous to the present so-called postmodern epoch they are in danger of becoming obsolete. This critique is offered in hope that museums will evolve and survive.