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Critical Theory Applied to Media Literacy


Traditionally, one of the fundamental objectives of media literacy (ML) has been the development of the ability to exercise critical thinking about the media, unmask their “naturalness,” and bring to surface their ideologies and values. However, when we move from the abstract level of critical theory to the messy and complex practices enacted in educational contexts, this broad political goal, along with its claim about the “liberating” and “empowering” effect of the critical mind, is flawed with limitations and contradictions. Although the need remains—and is as urgent and vital as ever—to develop critical skills and attitudes, it is also necessary to graft critical theory onto the learning processes activated in practice. As a result of this, ML can be redefined as a form of praxis whereby theory and practice nurture each other in dialectical ways and contribute together to the construction of active citizenship.