Contemporary studies in the field of education cannot afford to neglect the ever present interrelationships between power and politics, economics and consumption, representation and identity. In studying a recent cultural phenomenon in government schools, it became clear that a tool that made sense of these interlinked processes was required.
The Circuit of Culture (the Circuit) was refined as a tool of cultural analysis by British cultural theorists in the late 1990s. This paper will provide a brief history of the Circuit, some of its applications and critique, and an overview of the way the Circuit has been utilised to explore a topical cultural phenomenon involving the commodification of international student programs in Australian government schools ([author], 2011). This study draws on the Circuit to open the way for an exploration of the multiple interrelated processes involved in the construction and management of an education commodity.
The Circuit emphasizes the moments of production, representation, consumption, regulation and identity, and the interrelated articulations of these moments. It is found to be a useful and flexible tool for exploring the contemporary significance of, and possibilities for, the increasingly complex multiple modes and relationships of each of these significant moments in the construction and maintenance of an education commodity.