ilab january 2014

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A presentation about my fieldwork and research so far given to the Computer and Information Sciences department at the University of Strathclyde.


  • 1. Critical Information Literacy and Political Agency iLab Presentation: 20th January 2014 Lauren Smith Department of Computer and Information Science [email protected]
  • 2. Whats Changed Methodology planned; Literature review nearer completion; Presented at Umbrella and LILAC conferences; ESRC internship with Scottish Government; Paper in Journal of Information Literacy; Fieldwork conducted; Data being processed and analysed.
  • 3. Scottish Government Internship: Threatening Communications Understanding hate speech and harmful communications on social media Understand the extent to which social media presents new opportunities for researching the impact of interventions. Using social media data to explore the impact of the OBFTC Act. Understand the scale and nature of social media based crime and risks to public safety. For example: hate speech, offensiveness, bullying, fraud and other crime. Understand how hate speech may harm individuals and communities. What are the social media risks from a Community Safety point of view? Who commits offences? What is the extent of hate speech online? How can social media be used by authorities to improve or support public safety? What can be done to minimise harms? Understand the mind-sets of offenders and their understanding of the illegality of their behaviour. What is the harm of online hate speech? What kind of language is used? Who are the people most affected? Why do people post hate speech online? Do people understand the potential impact of their actions?
  • 4. COLIS 8 and Doctoral Forum Lund and Copenhagen The Doctoral Forum is intended to provide a setting for discussion of doctoral students' research projects with invited senior researchers and other participating students. The discussions will take place in a constructive spirit and a friendly atmosphere taking into consideration the diversity of contemporary LIS. A further objective is to act as a platform initiating international contacts between doctoral students as well as researchers that may enable future collaboration.
  • 5. Research Problem It is hypothesised that gaps exist in the UK education system, which means that schools focus on skills-based technical aspects of information literacy. As a result, critical aspects of information literacy are not addressed. Young people are not adequately supported to develop critical information literacy skills, which would help them to develop political agency.
  • 6. Can critical theories relating to critical literacy be applied to the concept of information literacy in order to create a better understanding of how we can help young people to develop skills which will enable them to meaningfully participate in political processes?
  • 7. Research Questions 1) How and through what sources do young people develop their critical literacy? 2) What are the qualitatively different ways young people conceive of political information? 3) When encountering political information, are young people applying critical thinking/literacy? a) If not, why not? If so, how? 4) Is there a link between young peoples political knowledge, critical literacy and political agency? 5) How can critical information literacy contribute to political agency?
  • 8. Context Decline in political participation; Lack of political knowledge and critical literacy linked to political participation; Young people focus of concern; Criticisms of a lack of critical element in information literacy theory and practice.
  • 9. While young people are interested in social and political issues they do not focus their concerns on engagement with formal political systems. Many hold negative views about politics, such as feeling that they have little control over what the government does. (Grundy and Jamieson 2004, p.237)
  • 10. It is not possible to assess whether young people are more disenchanted with politics than their predecessor generations. (White et al. 2000, p.44)
  • 11. Literature Review Framework for most relevant issues; Identifying themes encountered during fieldwork; Theoretical and methodological approaches; Learning from others research problems; Considering inclusion of previously unconsidered themes.
  • 12. Emerging Themes Political participation; Types and levels of participation; Problems with conceptions of participation; Political agency; Political knowledge in relation to information literacy; Young people and participation.
  • 13. UK education system; Citizenship and cultural literacy; Criticisms of education system; Literacies; Information literacy; Phenomenographic and critical approaches; Critical pedagogical theory; Critical literacy and critical information literacy.
  • 14. Young People as Political Agents Need to consider the importance of considering young people as political agents in their own right, rather as citizens-in-themaking who develop into actual political actors and engaged citizens only when they reach adulthood. Gordon (2008)
  • 15. Relevance to LIS Develop more meaningful vision of information literacy; Provide a real-world example or case study of the research phenomena; Position librarians as critical educators; Address social responsibilities of librarianship and information science.
  • 16. Model of Multiple Literacies Critical literacy is at the core of all the other literacies. The concept of critical literacy is tied to traditional literacy, but has evolved along with technology. Its essential for participating in a digital culture. All the other literacies in the diagram are dependent upon critical literacy. (Hovious 2013)
  • 17. "It is timelyfor teachers and school media specialists to recollect how rote learning, memorization, and functional literacy were used to produce a passive, noncritical labor force for the industrial economy. Information literacy, as an inadequate and exclusionary approach to learning through research, could well be repeating that injustice." (Kapitzke, 2003)
  • 18. Critical pedagogy currently offers the best, perhaps the only, chance for young people to develop the knowledge, skills, and sense of responsibility needed for them to participate in and exercise the leadership necessary for them to govern the prevailing social order. (Giroux 2012, pp.116-7)
  • 19. Information Literacy Information seeking Decision-making Cognitive elements Identifying information need Locating, evaluating, using information Critical Literacy Critical thinking skills Analysis and critiquing skills Identifying underlying power structures Acquisition of agency
  • 20. Critical information literacy would aim to reverse trends of exclusion from political participation and enable people to participate in the decisions and events that affect their lives. (Whitworth 2009, p.118)
  • 21. Planned Methodology Questionnaires Repertory Grids Diaries Focus Groups / Interviews Background picture of levels of political knowledge Whole y