In this essay Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández uses a discursive approach to argue that mainstream arts in education scholarship and advocacy construes “the arts” as a definable naturalistic phenomenon that exists in the world and is available to be observed and measured. In the course of his analysis, he examines how this construction is employed through what he calls the rhetoric of effects as part of the mainstream discourses used in arts in education research today. He describes how this positivistic rhetoric masks the complexity of those practices and processes associated with the arts, limiting the possibilities for productively employing such practices in education. In addition, he explores how discourses of the arts both arise out of and continually reify hierarchical conceptions of artistic practices in education and broader society. He concludes by proposing an alternative rhetoric of cultural production, arguing that moving toward this new way of understanding practices and processes of symbolic creativity is critical for expanding our vision for the arts in education.

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