Pedagogies of social justice and cultural democracy in media higher education

Authors: Gabriel, D.

Journal: Media Education Research Journal

Issue: 8.1

Publisher: Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University

The institutional culture within the UK higher education sector is largely Eurocentric, failing to represent the ethnically and culturally diverse student population, and contributing to disparate outcomes for students that do not fit the dominant cultural model. The NUS argue that the curriculum should tackle structural inequalities in society, as well as embedding equality and diversity. Social justice education meets this ideal, with advocates charging that education systems reproduce social inequalities in the wider society by reinforcing the status quo; although education institutions can play a key role in promoting social change. Despite the reproduction of racial stereotypes through the media, outside media literacy, the potential for implementation of social justice pedagogy in media education is yet to be realized. This article proposes pedagogies of social justice and cultural democracy as an effective strategy for promoting social change in the communication industries. It draws on a final year undergraduate unit focused on race, ethnicity and culture and linked to degrees in advertising, public relations, marketing communications and politics as a case study. The findings of an end of unit survey suggest that students can develop the critical consciousness necessary to analyze and critique problematic racialized representations in the communication industries in future employment and become agents of change.

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