Digital Media and Cosmopolitan Critical Literacy: Research and Practice

Digital Media and Cosmopolitan Critical Literacy: Research and Practice

Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8310-5.ch003
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In this chapter I consider contemporary global conditions pointing to what some scholars term “a global risk society” where digital media and Cosmopolitan Critical Literacy offer a counterpoint to human rights, health, climate, and terrorist threats. By examining current research in global youth communication across nation-state boundaries via the Internet, existing research suggests that tapping into digital media literacy and critical media literacy will be crucial for developing an informed and critical citizenry. At present, studies of transnational youth navigating old and new affiliations across national borders are in their infancy. Nevertheless, the existing research holds promise for developing global world citizens who can realize an ethos of cosmopolitan, critical citizenship through the affordances of digital media.
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Digital media permeate nearly all aspects of our lives from the connectedness of our families and communities through cell phones, tablets, computers at home, on the road, in the kitchen, and at work. The present chapter considers the impact of digital media and Cosmopolitan Critical Literacy (CCL) (Dunkerly-Bean, Bean, & Alnajjar, 2014) on the development of an astute citizenry capable of critiquing public policies, human rights, and elements of a “risk society” (Beck & Sznaider, 2010; Delanty, 2006). I begin by providing an overview of ongoing scholarly work aimed at defining the interplay of the three elements (risk society, digital media, and CCL) by first considering what it means to live in a global, risk society (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Risk Society, Digital Media, Critical Cosmopolitan Literacy, Research & Practice


Following this section, critical literacy is considered along with an expanded notion of cosmopolitan theory and Cosmopolitan Critical Literacy (CCL). Critical literacy is often confused with its older sibling, critical reading, making it imperative that the very different stances underpinning critical reading and critical literacy are clearly defined (Cervetti, Pardales, & Damico, 2001; Stevens & Bean, 2007). Research incorporating these elements and digital media is reviewed with an eye toward how this work might guide our practice in a global context.

In essence, I argue that a global risk society overlaps with a need to develop an astute global citizenry able to collaborate and solve serious problems including war, climate change, racism, sexism, identity theft, and a host of other issues facing the planet. Figure 1 shows the three major elements considered in this chapter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cosmopolitan Critical Literacy: This framework moves beyond nation-state boundaries and interests to critically address a host of global human rights issues (e.g. immigration) via digital media as a vehicle for discussion and transformation.

Critical Literacy: An emancipatory endeavor centered on interrogating issues of power, representation, and marginalization. Who is acknowledged and who is silenced in a text becomes crucial, along with the understanding that no text is neutral.

Cosmopolitanism: At times a contested term referring to the framing of self and other in relation to the world rather than a nation-state, and a concomitant ethical obligation to others beyond local and national borders and citizenry.

Globalization: The increasingly fluid and borderless movement of people, ideas, information, and capital that position the global and local as mutually interdependent.

Critical Media Literacy: Critiques how diverse people are portrayed and positioned in digital media including films, advertisements, video games, songs, popular culture, and social media sites.

Digital Media: Digital Media is a highly dynamic category that includes multimodal elements (e.g. visual images and sound). Digital Media are portable, searchable, and able to be digitally preserved.

Transnationalism: The increasing diversity of people immigrating voluntarily and involuntarily to new home countries argues for an appreciation of cosmopolitan cultural funds of knowledge that values social difference in languages and cultural beliefs.

Risk Society: Globalization, while at times treated as an economic element, renders nations interdependent such that events in one part of the globe spill over into other parts, sometimes with dire consequences (e.g. terrorism, climate change, pollution, involuntary diasporas, economic problems).

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