Agency is knowledge in action. In media lit eracy, agency is the exercising of awareness through critical thinking skills to effect change personally, locally and/or globally.Agency is also a central dilemma of our evolving electronic environment . With power comes responsibility.
As governments, corporations and individuals acquire increasing power over their own and others’ information, ethical questions continue to raise their heads . Governments can collect and share—without responsibility or detection—details of our online activities . Corporations can collect and sell—without remuneration or regard—details of our online activities . We, ourselves, can create and distribute powerful communications, true or false, harmless or damaging.
What are the responsibilities and agencies in an environment of such surveillance and disclosure? Marshall McLuhan observed that violence is agency—the act of someone seeking to find or establish an identity. We must acknowledge—by way
of transparency and context—that the articles in this issue were written during a most violent history, specifically: bombings and shootings in northern Europe; mass drownings in the Mediterranean; a failed coup and purge in Turkey; mass shootings in America; weekly deaths of black men and women at the hands of police; the Brexit vote; civil wars in the Middle East; the hottest summer on record; and a US presidential campaign in which Donald Trump gave license to civil disobedience, xenophobia, misogyny and division . It is inevitable that these violent events influenced some of the tone and substance of the articles . We begin the issue with big ideas . You will find some rich and provocative discussions about the potential of media literacy education—indeed its very
purpose and efficacy—in promoting agency. Fundamentally, these articles ask us to consider agency’s raison d’être and tragic flaws . The rest of the issue offers
case studies of a variety of idiosyncratic meanings and uses of agency according to cultural contexts: media literacy in action; change agents; media education in the service of democracy or human rights and as an agent for awareness in the workplace, school, and society. Other words are also employed strategically, for example: one to refine meaning (see Martin Rayala’s use of ‘meliorism’ in “Fostering Agency Through Media Literacy”) and one to characterize it (see Julian McDougall’s purposeful use of ‘fuck’ in “Media Literacy, Good Agency: If Jez We Could?”) .We are very grateful to the many thoughtful people who took the time and trouble to help us wrestle with so many critical aspects of agency and to the Journal of Media Literacy for publishing them . We hope that their thoughts and actions will support and encourage your own reflections and, If Jez We Could, your agency.
- : http://www.aml.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/JMLVo.64No.12-2017.pdf
- : editors Neil Andersen and Carol Arcus
- : The National Telemedia Council (The Journal of Media Literacy)