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This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Debates about how educational ethnography, or any type of qualitative educational research, can and should be written about have been around for over 30 years. In 1986 two anthropologists, James Clifford and George Marcus, edited a collection of essays. The authors in that landmark collection argued for the same levels of reflexivity that characterized data collection and fieldwork roles in anthropology to be self-consciously applied to writing and to reading the literature. Initially controversial only in anthropology, where the monograph has an iconic status both for the author and for the people or culture it describes, other social sciences where ethnography is used gradually absorbed the same concerns. The ways in which educational research is written have changed as a result of that increased reflexivity. New literary forms, polyvocal texts, and the explicit presence of the author as a character in the text have all changed and developed, and there are journals and book publishers who disseminate the new forms. At its simplest, the use of the passive or the third person in educational research texts remains normal in positivist education research but has largely vanished in the reporting of interpretive or constructivist research, especially of ethnographies. The unexamined author, anonymous in the text, has been replaced by many different “visible” authorial approaches. Issues of genre and new types of literary convention are both exhilarating and perilous for the early career scholar.
Writing qualitative dissertations represents an internationally recognized pinnacle for students of higher education. The pressures and incentives for students approaching the dissertation writing landscape are undeniable. Unfortunately, too many doctoral students are offered limited strategies to begin navigating it. Moreover, doctoral students seeking maps from Education and other social science literature to guide them will find limited peer-reviewed scholarship that addresses the complexity of writing defensible qualitative dissertations. Too many doctoral students instead turn to some of the most popular qualitative dissertation textbooks that tend to provide limited representations of the writing landscape, albeit unintentional. These students may begin writing only to find that such landscape representations prepare them inadequately for the complexity of the territory. It is a territory filled with a variety of evolving writing tasks and possibilities. Doctoral students may consider at least seven evolving sets of tasks (ESTs) as strategies for navigating the messy terrain of the qualitative dissertation writing territory.
Stuart R. Poyntz and Jennesia Pedri
Media in the 21st century are changing when, where, what, and how young people learn. Some educators, youth researchers, and parents lament this reality; but youth, media culture, and learning nevertheless remain entangled in a rich set of relationships today. These relationships and the anxieties they produce are not new; they echo worries about the consequences of young people’s media attachments that have been around for decades.
These anxieties first appeared in response to the fear that violence, vulgarity, and sexual desire in early popular culture was thought to pose to culture. Others, however, believed that media could be repurposed to have a broader educational impact. This sentiment crept into educational discourses throughout the 1960s in a way that would shift thinking about youth, media culture, and education. For example, it shaped the development of television shows such as Sesame Street as a kind of learning portal. In addition to the idea that youth can learn from the media, educators and activists have also turned to media education as a more direct intervention. Media education addresses how various media operate in and through particular institutions, technologies, texts, and audiences in an effort to affect how young people learn and engage with media culture. These developments have been enhanced by a growing interest in a broad project of literacy. By the 1990s and 2000s, media production became a common feature in media education practices because it was thought to enable young people to learn by doing, rather than just by analyzing or reading texts. This was enabled by the emergence of new digital media technologies that prioritize user participation.
As we have come to read and write media differently in a digital era, however, a new set of problems have arisen that affect how media cultures are understood in relation to learning. Among these issues is how a participatory turn in media culture allows others, including corporations, governments, and predatory individuals, to monitor, survey, coordinate, and guide our activities as never before. Critical media literacy education addresses this context and continues to provide a framework to address the future of youth, media culture and learning.