The Uses of Media Literacy
This concluding speech will revisit Richard Hoggart’s seminal book from the 1950s, ‘The Uses of Literacy’ and suggest to the MMLS community that media literacy in itself is important, but we should be talking more now about the USES OF media literacy. Hoggart wrote about how his community, in the North of England, were at once using the new ‘mass literacy’ for self-improvement, education, social mobility and civic engagement and, at the same time, the powerful were seizing the opportunity also to use this expansion in literacy, through the new popular culture, for commercial and political ends.
This speech will argue that media literacy in 2017 is equally a site of tension, between the uses of media literacy by ‘the people’ – the kinds ofdynamic literacy , participation and ‘good agency’ we advocate and develop in our work - and the uses of our media literacy by the powerful, or would be powerful “on us” – to persuade us, deceive us, monetize us, even radicalize us. The key themes, messages and strategies shared and discussed over two days at MMLS will be reflected upon and framed by these competing forces.