Engagement with the mainstream media and the relationship to political literacy: The influence of hegemonic education on democracy


  • Paul R Carr Université du Québec en Outaouais
  • Gary W. J. Pluim Lakehead University
  • Lauren Howard Lakehead University (Orillia)




Democracy, Mainstream Media, Media Literacy, Teacher Education, Political Literacy, Education for Democracy, Neoliberalism, Corporatization, Privatization, Media


This article focuses on teacher candidates' perspectives of media literacy in the context of education for democracy as a possibility to enlighten students to address the mainstream media’s predisposition towards the neoliberal privatization and corporatization of education. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data from research at two campuses of a university in Ontario, Canada, we illustrate how this sample of future educators demonstrates a normative inclination to embed media literacy in their teaching; however, real barriers exist that can diminish their engagement with controversial issues, alternative media, and, even, democratic education, and education for democracy, itself. This contradiction, we argue, underscores the difference between media awareness that many teacher candidates possess, and media literacy, a quality that requires greater focus at education institutions. Set against the backdrop of the television news media’s largely imperceptible neoliberal predisposition towards education, education for democracy must necessarily incorporate a critical approach that enables future teachers to identify and critique the mainstream media’s support of, and entanglement with, the neoliberal cooptation of education. The article ends with several proposals to address the democratic deficits created through limited engagement with media literacy.


Author Biographies

Paul R Carr, Université du Québec en Outaouais

Dr. Paul R. Carr is a Professor in the Department of Education at the Université du Québec en Outaouais, a French-language university in Gatineau, Québec, which is part of the national capital region with Ottawa. His research interests include political sociology, interculturalism, democracy, transformative education, media literacy, and peace studies. He is the Principal Investigator of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) research-project entitled Democracy, Political Literacy and Transformative Education www.education4democracy.net). He has ten edited books and one sole-author book, Does Your Vote Count? Critical Pedagogy and Democracy, in addition to roughly a hundred articles and book chapters. He speaks English, French and Spanish, and collaborates with a range of colleagues internationally through the Global Doing Democracy Research Project (GDDRP), for which is a co-founder and co-director. His website is www.paulrcarr.net

Gary W. J. Pluim, Lakehead University

Gary Pluim is an Instructor in the Department of Education at Lakehead University (Orillia campus), recently completed his doctorate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and is a research assistant, working with Paul R. Carr, on a research project entitled Democracy, Political Literacy and Transformative Education.

Lauren Howard, Lakehead University (Orillia)

Lauren Howard recently completed her B. A. (Honours) in Sociology at Lakehead University (Orillia campus), and is a research assistant, working with Paul R. Carr, on a research project entitled Democracy, Political Literacy and Transformative Education.