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  • Writer's pictureChaire UNESCO en démocratie, citoyenneté mondiale et éducation transformatoire

Announcing a new book, Democracy 2.0: Media, Political Literacy and Critical Engagement

We’re (Paul R. Carr, Michael Hoechsmann & Gina Thésée) really pleased to share with everyone the publication of our new book, Democracy 2.0: Media, Political Literacy and Critical Engagement, published by Brill/Sense in Bill Reynold’s book series. Many thanks to all of the contributors, endorsers, our friends at Brill/Sense and colleagues who have supported us throughout. And we’re really excited about our collaboration, which will continue with a second book, a research-project focused on social media, democracy, citizen participation and education, and through the UNESCO Chair DCMÉT.

Participatory media 2.0 have shifted the terrain of public life. We are all—individually and collectively—able to produce and circulate media to a potentially limitless audience, and we are all, at minimum, arbiters of knowledge and information through the choices—or clicks—we make when online. In this new environment of two-way and multidimensional media flow, digital communication tools, platforms and spaces offer enormous potential for the cultivation, development and circulation of diverse and counter-hegemonic perspectives. It has also provoked a crisis of communication between oppositional “echo chambers.”

Democracy requires a functioning, critically-engaged and literate populace, one that can participate in, cultivate and shape, in meaningful and critical ways, the discourses and forms of the society in which it exists. Education for democracy, therefore, requires not only political literacy but also media and digital literacies, given the ubiquity and immersiveness of Media 2.0 in our lives.

In Democracy 2.0, we feature a series of evocative, international case studies that document the impact of alternative and community use of media, in general, and Web 2.0 in particular. The aim is to foster critical reflection on social realities, developing the context for coalition-building in support of social change and social justice. The chapters herein examine activist uses of social and visual media within a broad and critical frame, underpinning the potential of alternative and DIY (Do It Yourself) media to impact and help forge community relationships, to foster engagement in the civic and social life of citizens across the globe and, ultimately, to support thicker forms of democratic participation, engagement and conscientization, beyond electoralist, representative, normative democracy.


Foreword: It’s a Post-Truth World After All

Shirley R. Steinberg


Introduction: Democracy 2.0, Old and New Media, and the Quest for Engaged Participation

Michael Hoechsmann, Paul R. Carr, and Gina Thésée

Section 1: Democracy and Mediatized Participation

1. Technocracy, Education, and the Global Imperative

Peter Pericles Trifonas

2. Voluntary Subservience and Capitalist Religion in the Era of Reality Television Politics

William M. Reynolds

3. The Development of Democratic Citizenship within the Context of Education for Latin American Unification: Media Literacy 2.0, from Classroom Praxis to Critical Engagement

Raul Olmo Fregoso Bailon and Felipe de Jesús Alatorre Rodríguez

4. Digital Citizens, Not Just Consumers: Defining Digital Citizenship for Democracy

Megan Ryland

5. Engagement with the Mainstream Media and the Relationship to Political Literacy:

The Influence of Hegemonic Education on Democracy

Paul R. Carr, Gary W. J. Pluim, and Lauren Howard

Section 2: Contexts of Contested Notions of Democracy and Media

6. Embodiment as Discourse in Indigenous Photography: Narrative as Multiplicitous Reality

Kalli Paakspuu

7. The Role of Social Media in Africa’s Democratic Transitions: Lessons from Burundi

Anne Munene and Ibrahim Magara

8. Critical Pedagogy through Participatory Video: Possibilities for Post-Colonial Higher

Education in the Caribbean

Lynette Sampson

9. Community-Driven Media in Australia: The Public Pedagogy of Australian Indigenous


Renee Desmarchelier, Jon Austin, and Cally Jetta

10. The Battle for Free Universal Education in Chile: The Use of Youtube in the Student

Protests of 2011

Salomé Sola-Morales

11. The #Ocupaescola (“#Occupyschool”) Movement: Counter-Hegemonic Media and New

Ways to Fight for Education

Ivan Bomfim

12. “Democracy! Not Just for Locals But for Us Too!”: Exploring Multi-Ethnic Young

People’s Calls for Social Change in Hong Kong through Cellphilms

Casey Burkholder

Afterword: Danger Ahead: Ready Yourself and Join the Struggle

Peter Mclaren

Author Biographies



Democracy 2.0 delivers just what educators serious about critical social thought and practice need right now, that is clearheaded critique of a media-scape filled with fake news and alternative truths and schools that function as illusion factories, serving up old bromides about democracy that have little connection to what democracy means today. Democracy 1.0 has less to do with its actual content as an egalitarian system of political-economic values than it does with the neglect of this content for its form. Democracy 2.0 points the way toward a future of engaged social, cultural, and political participation, that is a future where we can imagine the recovery of real democracy.

–E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia

Democracy 2.0: Media, Political Literacy and Critical Engagement is a work that has arrived at a time where political intervention is possible. It contributes mightily to what Marxist educationalists have been developing in the arena of revolutionary critical pedagogy. Media literacy has always been a fundamental dimension of revolutionary critical pedagogy and, I can say, without exaggeration, that, in my view, this is one of the best media literacy texts in the field, and has arrived at a precipitous moment in world history. Amidst raging debates over the role of media ownership, journalism, the narrow-casted fabrication of factual “fake news” (epistemological coherentism versus philosophical foundationalism), the growth of technological platforms and the hacking of national elections, Paul R. Carr, Michael Hoechsmann & Gina Thésée have produced a powerful volume that offers conditions of possibility for both individuals and social movements armed with various forms of media practices (media production and consumption) to bridge geopolitical digital divides and enter the fight against the transnational capitalist class in pursuit of global justice by means of constructing democratized media spheres and digital citizen participation and activism…

–Peter McLaren, Chapman University

The chapters in this book engage us in an international discussion on ways in which we can retrieve democracy through an informed and criticalized media, and, therefore, political literacy. Like Sisyphus, the authors engage in a mammoth task, and, like Sisyphus, they will endure and see it through. It is up to us, dear reader, to take up the call and advocate for action in the form of media literacy, to insist that we, as educators, re-introduce our students, who are the ultimate media consumers, to media: to learn to interrogate media, and to demand that content-by-sender and comprehension-by-receiver be responsible, participatory, and democratic.

–Shirley R. Steinberg, University of Calgary

Democracy 2.0 is a vital and brilliant collection of international case studies from leading thinkers examining and theorizing political engagement & grassroots organizing in our ever-changing participatory media & Web 2.0 global context. It’s no exaggeration to state that our very democratic existence depends on developing and understanding these digital literacies and the contexts in which they operate.

–Marc Spooner, University of Regina

In this comprehensive and readable volume, the contributing authors present a range of critical cases concerning the need to rethink social media and digital democracy, from organizing protests online to indigenous participant media. Although the Internet has often been hailed as a democratizing force, it often results in decidedly undemocratic practices, reinscribing racism, sexism, and homophobia. The cases outlined here reflect a variety of international perspectives and contexts that will spark much-needed discussion about potentials and constraints of Media 2.0.

–Faith Agostinone Wilson, Aurora University

Democracy 2.0 is a wonderful collection of carefully crafted essays. The editors have skillfully choreographed a global network of activists and scholars to illuminate the intersection of media, democracy and education. Each of the chapters in this book describes in rich detail the power of social media to forge counterhegemonic messages, new alliances and socially just alternatives. The book provides a powerful framing of pragmatic tactics to address some of the world’s most vexatious issues of xenophobia, sexism, racism, classism and colonialism. The book should be read by educators and community activists involved in the struggle for a more inclusive, engaged and participatory democracy.

–Barry Down, Murdoch University

Paul R. Carr, Michael Hoechsmann, and Gina Thésée have assembled a talented group of international scholars to look at the multiple ways youth engage in citizenship through popular culture. What I find valuable about their work is how they map the concrete ways we can move beyond institutionally defined concepts of citizenship. Through the use of Critical Media Literacy, we can counter the illusion that meaningful citizenship is exercised merely by voting every four years and occasionally donating to charity.

–Douglas Fleming, University of Ottawa

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