Tag Archives: social context

De Block, L., & Buckingham, D. (2007). _Global children, global media: Migration, media and childhood_. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Liesbeth de Block is Programme Leader of Sociology of Childhood and Children’s Rights MA, Research Officer at the Centre for the Study of Children Youth and Media, and Lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of London. She studies the interrelationship between media, migration, childhood, globalization, young people, and education.

Block and Buckingham view children to be “social actors in their own right” (34) and, agreeing with Husband (1998, 2000), believe their “right to communicate should be seen as a vital dimension of modern, multicultural societies” (198). What needs to happen, we need “educational and cultural policies that will explicitly support it” (198), and we need to look beyond the traditional school, understanding “that the majority (if not all) students are now subject to global economic influences, images, and cultures. We can no longer take a nationalistic view on citizenship and participation nor encourage a view of study and work as independent from the rest of the world” (199).

The experience of the transnational migrant child is particularly singular. Children are not only the motivation for most migration (in that the majority of migrants move for economic opportunity), they often assist their parents as the families’ “front line” (23) in their adoptive countries with language, access, etc. (this often shifts parent-child power relations). At home, the parents and children also express interest in different media. This generational viewing reflects the gap between the home country tradition and adoptive country culture. Much more than their parents, migrant children consume local, regional, and global media, and each type reverberates in the experiences of the others. Block and Buckingham recommend, therefore, what we think in terms of transnationalism and not diaspora when discussing contemporary migrant families’ endeavors to negotiate their new environments.

Block and Buckingham advocate for improved policies, particularly for this sector, given the widening gap between the “technology rich” and “technology poor.” This is especially the case since while the while the majority of youth media research exists within the formal education sector, some educational research suggests visual methods are effective at reaching students otherwise disenfranchised by traditional education.

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Buckingham, D. (2009). ‘Creative’ visual methods in media research: possibilities, problems and proposals. _Media, Culture & Society_, 31(4):633.

This piece addresses the problems with visual methods in research: “media do not provide a transparent reflection of the real world…communication is contingent on the social contexts in which it occurs” (639). If we didn’t already believe this, then focus groups might not exist, since they represent an “epistemological commitment” (644) to the notion that meaning is a social construction.

Buckingham cares about this because we must recognize that a researcher’s mere presence has an impact on participants in participatory research — one cannot just wish away power relations. Therefore, as researchers, we must analyze data for each unique project. We can’t assume methods necessarily empower, that visual methods equate to self-expression, etc.

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Buckingham, D. (2003). _Media education: Literacy, learning, and contemporary culture_. Cambridge and London: Polity.

Here Buckingham writes an urgent call for media education. He cites his frustrations with the lack of progress in policy; the enduring and misplaced association of media education with creative curricula, rather than being linked with education more generally; and an already low and diminishing regard for teachers. The book has four parts: the essential objectives of media education, a “state of the art” address about media education, a more detailed view of media education pedagogy, and the challenges/opportunities.

For Buckingham, childhood (just like everything else) is not homogeneous. Meaning and experience are contingent upon other social factors, such as gender, race/ethnicity, social class, geographic location, etc. Likewise, blockages to media democratization are political and economic, not just technological. We experience all these things at unique positions in our social terrain, social field (Bourdieu, 1989). Buckingham’s research suggests “there is a widening gap between children’s worlds outside school and the emphases of many education systems” (32) and laments we “may see the emergence of an educational ‘underclass’ that is effectively excluded from access, not merely to economic capital but to social and cultural capital as well” (203). An late 90s UK study determined that middle-class kids, the “technology rich” (181) were about three times more likely to use multimedia computers at home than their working-class counterparts, the “technology poor” (ibid). Lacking access to technologies, these children suffer insufficient access “to cultural forms of expression and communication” (183).

The “so-called ‘creative industries’ (193) benefits extend beyond the economic. Consider the self esteem, the uncovering of unknown gifts that can “bring about the social and economic regeneration of disadvantaged communities” (ibid). Still, the differences between those who already have social and educational capital and those who do not is stark from the start, and this has become all the more dire since education is now perceived primarily as a consumer commodity, with its agonizing and useless standardized examinations.

“…key point here is that…potential benefits of digital technologies will not be realized without informed intervention on the part of teachers and…of peers… [There is a] need for reflection, deliberation, and dialogue” (187).

Buckingham advocates for multiliteracy, noting it’s not just about the plurality of modes of communication — and to be sure, there is a plurality — but the “inherently social nature of literacy” (38). Media education is the process of instruction and media literacy is the outcome. Media literacy comprises: reading, writing, the study of production, of representation, of audiences, and language. Media “intervene” — they provide the mode of communication, the context, and the content — and media production requires collaboration. For Buckingham, creative production’s distinct “social, collaborative” (Becker, 1984) function, hence, instruction, is more important than the “Romantic” (137) arguments for self-expression. He cares more about the social.

In the classroom, Buckingham finds: (1) Contextual analysis allows us to recognize the interconnections between forms of media language, as well as production and audience. (2) Simulations putting students in the role of media producer results not in a parroting of mainstream media but a critical distancing.

This is more than just “functional literacy…. For want of a better term, media literacy is a form of critical literacy) (37-38).

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Helguera, P. (2011). _Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook_. New York: Jorge Pinto Books.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist who works with installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, and socially engaged art and performance. In addition to his artistic practice, he has worked as an education curator in contemporary art museums. From 1998-2005, he was the head of public programs at the Guggenheim. Since 2007, he has been MoMA’s director of adult and academic programs. He’s written several books, ranging from novels, to curatorial stories, to essays on memory, and so on. His most recent product is based on his “knowledge, experience, and conclusions derived from specific applications of various interactive formats, from discursive and pedagogical methods to real-life situations” (x).

The goal, which I believe he achieves handily, is to give insight into how to use art in the social realm, while placing it within a larger discussion about the debates, both theoretical and application-based. His main point is that the tools of education share parallels with art — they rely on collaborative dynamics, experimentation, and the development of materials. However, what educators understands better than many artists is their “socially engaged art [SEA] can’t be produced inside a knowledge vacuum” (xiii).

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