Theory, practice and 'empowerment' in media education : a case study of critical pedagogy
This thesis explores the issue of 'empowerment', which is often seen as a key question for media education. The fIrst two chapters are a literature review. Chapter 1 critically discusses how the concept of empowerment might be constituted in the discourses of critical pedagogy. Following this, Chapter 2 discusses the kinds of empowerment offered by three different models of media education (,critical analysis of the media', 'media production as 'self-expression", and 'media production training'), focusing on the pedagogic processes and the kinds of legitimate knowledge and skills offered in handbooks for teachers. Chapter 3 explores the complexity of empowerment in media education from a more learner-centred perspective on education and a sociocultural perspective on classroom practices, drawing on two distinctive areas of study: audience research and situative learning theory. Three data analysis chapters follow Chapter 4, which discusses the methodology and methods used in collecting and analysing the data collected. Chapter 5 analyses a school context where 'critical media analysis' is presented as the 'official critical discourse' to make students into media critics. Chapter 6 discusses a youth project context where rules for media production are emphasised, while the professed aim is to empower young people to express their own voice in the process of training them as media producers. In both cases that I observed, the kinds of competence or legitimate knowledge and skills that the students were required to achieve were presented fundamentally as non-negotiable. Pursuing the questions raised in the previous two chapters in a context where the reading and writing sides of media education are brought together, Chapter 7 discusses how individual students with different background knowledge can be empowered in actual learning situations and what might be the role of the teacher in doing so. Based on such classroom research, this thesis argues that empowerment in media education needs to be reconsidered in relation to the ways in which teaching and learning actually take place and how the teacher and the students are positioned in relation to particular abilities and knowledge about the media.