Resource title

Engaging with media – a matter of literacy?

Resource image

image for OpenScout resource :: Engaging with media – a matter of literacy?

Resource description

This article considers the continued relevance of critical research on audience reception and audience ethnography to today’s study of complex media and communications environment. Although much of the work addressing people’s engagement with new media is now framed not in terms of audiences but rather in terms of literacies, there are many parallels between the critical analysis of literacy and of audiences. Both examine the interface between the interpretative activities of ordinary people and the powerful institutions, texts and technologies they engage with. Both identify forms of stratification and exclusion while recognising the micro-tactics of marginalised audiences/ the digitally excluded. On the one hand, the notion of literacy offers some advantages over that of audiences, for it draws on a long history of theorising knowledge in relation to emancipation and democratisation. On the other hand, literacy occasions critical scrutiny, particularly when, as today, it is mobilised in support of by neo-liberal, deregulatory policies in the media and communications sector. Insofar as audience research directs its energies towards the analysis of new media literacies, it is vital to follow the principles of critical analysis, explicating research assumptions, scrutinising how our work is used, and asking whose interests are thereby served.

Resource author

Resource publisher

Resource publish date

Resource language


Resource content type


Resource resource URL

Resource license