Reconceptualizing media literacy in the social studies: A pragmatist critique of the NCSS position statement on media literacy.

The National Council for the Social Studies Position Statement on Media Literacy argues that media literacy can facilitate participatory democracy if students' interest in media is harnessed. The statement conceives of media technology as neutral and under-conceptualizes socializing aspects of media technologies that foster atomized individualism. Narrowly grounded in New Media Literacies, Critical Media Studies, and Medium Theory scholarship, it offers a limited understanding of media as merely conduits for message transmission and concludes that media technology will create a more democratic society if students are encouraged to participate in it. The authors' pragmatist reconceptualization examines media not only as transmission but also as a space where common meanings are constructed. The authors offer a critical review that advances an alternative direction for media literacy in which learning for participatory democracy includes analyzing not only medium, messages, and content but also media forms and their relations to transactional tendencies within the broader society.

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