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How media literacy is defined: A review
Unformatted Document Text:  18 Socialization This aspect refers to the process through which an individual becomes a member of society and internalizes its norms, values and accepted patterns of behavior. Regarding media literacy, this aspects entails the ability to see how the media socialize people into society by teaching them the dominant norms and values. Thoman (1999) noted that media literacy includes the ability to know how “…the media shape what we know and understand about the world we live in”(51). This definition is echoed by various other media literacy researchers (Lloyd-Kolkin et al. 1980; Swinkels, 1992). The only author to provide a reason for the need for people to understand media’s socialization potential was Thoman (1999). She defended her inclusion of this element in her concept of media literacy by claiming that this kind of knowledge is important to people in the navigation of their lives in a global, technological society (51). Conclusion In the previous paragraphs I have attempted to provide an overview of the definitions of media literacy currently used in this field of research. In addition to summarizing the dominant conceptualizations of media literacy, I have also listed the reasons given by the various authors for their decision to conceptualize media literacy the way they did. This summary has, in my opinion, looked at media literacy from a completely different angle than previous attempts at creating a summary (e.g., Brown, 1991), for it has summarized existing definitions according to the constructivist model of media literacy. This model is the first attempt within media literacy research to create a model to serve as a conceptualization of media literacy, and has aided in organizing the existing, at times ‘jumbled’ definitions into distinct and clearly defined elements of media literacy. This overview of definitions has made it clear that some of the aspects of media literacy as defined by the constructivist model of media literacy are present in almost every definition of media literacy, or media education, while others receive little to no attention from the majority of the researchers. Elements such as ‘institutions’, ‘social network’, ‘information’, and ‘definition of the situation’ are mentioned in the overwhelming majority of the definitions used in media literacy research, while elements such as ‘interaction situation’, ‘socialization’ and receive almost no attention. The reasons for this could be manifold; first of all, one could argue that those aspects of media literacy which are emphasized are the most ‘obvious’ aspects of the media and their use. Additionally, these three concepts are also those which are easiest to operationalize and teach. Third, those concepts which receive almost no attention, namely ‘interaction situation’ and ‘socialization’, could be seen as concepts which are difficult to operationalize and measure, which implies that those people who define media literacy with the sole purpose of developing a media education program will not refer to these hard-to-define aspects of the media. Finally, both these concepts are abstract by nature, and not readily associated with media literacy or media education. Socialization refers to long-term societal changes, something which few people probably associate with media education, while interaction situation is a very narrowly-defined element, which can thus rarely be applied to the definitions developed by other researchers, and which also refers to a very obscure aspect of media use. One aspect of media literacy, which did appear in various definitions (e.g., Davison, 1992; Gaudard & Theveniaut, 1992; Hobbs, 1998a, 1998d; Lund, 1998; Minkkinen, 1978; Stafford, 1990; Tufte, 1992), but not in the constructivist model of media literacy, was the claim that media literacy included the ability to produce media messages. The reason why this element is not included in the model is related to the fact that the original model centered on people’s use of the media, thus leaving no room for people’s own media productions.

Authors: Rosenbaum, Judith.
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18
Socialization
This aspect refers to the process through which an individual becomes a member of society
and internalizes its norms, values and accepted patterns of behavior. Regarding media
literacy, this aspects entails the ability to see how the media socialize people into society by
teaching them the dominant norms and values.
Thoman (1999) noted that media literacy includes the ability to know how “…the
media shape what we know and understand about the world we live in”(51). This definition is
echoed by various other media literacy researchers (Lloyd-Kolkin et al. 1980; Swinkels,
1992).
The only author to provide a reason for the need for people to understand media’s
socialization potential was Thoman (1999). She defended her inclusion of this element in her
concept of media literacy by claiming that this kind of knowledge is important to people in
the navigation of their lives in a global, technological society (51).

Conclusion
In the previous paragraphs I have attempted to provide an overview of the definitions of
media literacy currently used in this field of research. In addition to summarizing the
dominant conceptualizations of media literacy, I have also listed the reasons given by the
various authors for their decision to conceptualize media literacy the way they did.
This summary has, in my opinion, looked at media literacy from a completely
different angle than previous attempts at creating a summary (e.g., Brown, 1991), for it has
summarized existing definitions according to the constructivist model of media literacy. This
model is the first attempt within media literacy research to create a model to serve as a
conceptualization of media literacy, and has aided in organizing the existing, at times
‘jumbled’ definitions into distinct and clearly defined elements of media literacy.
This overview of definitions has made it clear that some of the aspects of media
literacy as defined by the constructivist model of media literacy are present in almost every
definition of media literacy, or media education, while others receive little to no attention
from the majority of the researchers. Elements such as ‘institutions’, ‘social network’,
‘information’, and ‘definition of the situation’ are mentioned in the overwhelming majority of
the definitions used in media literacy research, while elements such as ‘interaction situation’,
‘socialization’ and receive almost no attention. The reasons for this could be manifold; first of
all, one could argue that those aspects of media literacy which are emphasized are the most
‘obvious’ aspects of the media and their use. Additionally, these three concepts are also those
which are easiest to operationalize and teach. Third, those concepts which receive almost no
attention, namely ‘interaction situation’ and ‘socialization’, could be seen as concepts which
are difficult to operationalize and measure, which implies that those people who define media
literacy with the sole purpose of developing a media education program will not refer to these
hard-to-define aspects of the media. Finally, both these concepts are abstract by nature, and
not readily associated with media literacy or media education. Socialization refers to long-
term societal changes, something which few people probably associate with media education,
while interaction situation is a very narrowly-defined element, which can thus rarely be
applied to the definitions developed by other researchers, and which also refers to a very
obscure aspect of media use.
One aspect of media literacy, which did appear in various definitions (e.g., Davison,
1992; Gaudard & Theveniaut, 1992; Hobbs, 1998a, 1998d; Lund, 1998; Minkkinen, 1978;
Stafford, 1990; Tufte, 1992), but not in the constructivist model of media literacy, was the
claim that media literacy included the ability to produce media messages. The reason why this
element is not included in the model is related to the fact that the original model centered on
people’s use of the media, thus leaving no room for people’s own media productions.


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