#callfor Media Literacy: Strategies to Intensify Citizenship and Democracy (Comunicação Pública)

Date(s) - 07/07/2022
Todo el día

Politécnico de Lisboa


+ info: Comunicação Pública

In recent years there have been several phenomena put democratic values to the test, to the point that we now can speak of a regression of liberal democracies around the world (V-Dem 2020; Democracy Index, 2019). The political transformations that have taken place in countries such as Hungary, Turkey or Brazil, with the election of populist leaders and the constitution of anti- democratic governments, are just some of the visible faces of a larger problem, which reaches its maximum expression with the increase in the number of autocracies, which is now higher than that of democracies, something that has not occurred since 2001 (V-Dem, 2020, p. 6).

Researchers have explained most of these transformations based on the idea that citizens no longer trust “the political system and democratic institutions” (Belchior, 2015). This mistrust would be at the origin of citizens’ discontent and at the base of their adherence to populist politicians, who defend nationalist or protectionist measures, as well as restrictions to individual freedoms and rights.

The media have been used, in this process, as the main channel to transmit populist ideas. When the media are not available, digital platforms are the privileged vehicles to attack traditional media, convey disinformation and encourage the polarization of discourses. In this context, the question that arises is whether citizens are prepared to understand and critically assess the diversity of messages to which they are exposed in contemporary society.

The fast pace at which information circulates, especially in the digital world, combined with the transformations that have taken place in the production of content (Bruns, 2007; Anderson, Bell & Shirky, 2014), have reinforced the importance of promoting media and digital literacy as a democratic development strategy. Critical understanding and active participation are thus the basis of all democracies, as the absence of these competences prevents certain sectors of society from making informed choices, exposing them to false content and affecting the nature and quality of public debate.

In this context we understand that it is necessary to consolidate scientific knowledge and the perception that citizens have about the democratic process, civic participation and citizenship. It is not simply a matter of analyzing what the public knows about politicians or political institutions. Thinking about literacy for citizenship and democracy is to enter the broader field of identifying a set of competencies without which citizens would not be able to act critically, in a democratic context. In this sense, this call for papers aims to collect theoretical and empirical contributions that
can help to reflect on the importance of this kind of literacy for citizenship and democracy, and more specifically what skills should be developed and what tools can be used to help combat democratic backlash. Among others, it seeks to obtain answers to the following questions: How to prepare citizens to participate critically in the democratic process? What kind of knowledge, attitudes and skills are essential for the exercise of citizenship in the digital age? To whom should media literacy actions be addressed? What strategies can help foster young people’s interest in democracy?

Objectives and approaches
Considering that literacy for citizenship and democracy is the central axis of this call for papers, we seek contributions that take into account the following topics, (although not limited to them):
• Media literacy, citizenship and democracy
• Misinformation and information literacy
• Populisms, polarization and digital literacy
• Digital divide, teaching and media literacy
• Political literacy and civic participation

• Public policies and media literacy
• Technology, literacy and digital citizenship