Youth Voices for Change: Building Political Efficacy and Civic Engagement through Digital Media Literacy

This paper analyzes a project of a New York City-based nonprofit organization, the Educational Video Center (EVC, www.evc.org), which works to put John Dewey’s conceptual framework of “democracy as a way of life” into practice.  Through examining the case of EVC’s youth documentary on stop-and-frisk police tactics, it discusses how EVC’s community inquiry process, using the creative and critical tools of digital media literacy, can build skills and voice to promote political efficacy and civic engagement among those who were formerly disengaged.

Introduction: “Democracy As a Way of Life”

John Dewey framed the question back in the 1920s: how can we build a politically engaged public practiced in the reasoned and informed deliberation and debate so necessary for a healthy democracy? Prescient in his observations of the social and political landscape, he argued in his classic The Public and Its Problems that there was a growing “eclipse of the public.” He believed the public was distracted and diverted from politics by the power of the “bread and circus,” the entertainment culture on the one hand and by a sensationalist press on the other.1

In response, he envisioned a “Great Community” made up of a fully participatory, “organized, articulate Public.” He called for news that would inform rather than simply entertain the public, and for the public to engage in ongoing dialogue with neighbors and therefore generate new knowledge about current affairs. He also believed that artists could contribute to these informed dialogues through creative communication that would effectively grab the public’s attention and so help produce more informed opinion. As he put it, “The function of art has always been to break through the crust of conventionalized and routine consciousness.”2

Not measured by the act of periodic voting alone, Dewey conceptualized democracy as “a way of life.” He described a political culture where people routinely exercise habits of critical inquiry, openness to alternative views, and deliberative moral reason—a way of life in which people actively engage with their communities.3

Building on Dewey’s conceptual frame, our contemporary notion of the public has become more granular. It is defined by multiple distinctions including race, class, gender, ethnicity, age, geography, legal status, and Internet access. Our understanding of the public’s political participation must take into account the ways in which one’s political efficacy, digital media literacy, and civic engagement correlate with—and can also work against—the economic inequalities that define our times.

In this paper, we analyze and discuss a project of a New York City-based nonprofit organization, the Educational Video Center (EVC, www.evc.org),4 which is working to put Dewey’s conceptual framework of “democracy as a way of life” into practice. Teaching low-income youth to create documentaries engages them as artists and civic journalists involved in “continuous inquiry” into social issues in their communities. Through the storytelling genre of documentary they use creative arts to both inform their audiences and spark public dialogue.

Beginning with a discussion of the relationship between inequality, political efficacy, and civic engagement, we focus on one segment of the public which has been substantially disengaged from political debate and political action—low-income urban youth of color in New York City. Through examining the case of EVC’s youth documentary on stop-and-frisk police tactics,5 we discuss how EVC’s community inquiry process, using the creative and critical tools of digital media literacy, can build skills and voice to promote efficacy and civic action among those who were formerly disengaged.  This includes interviews with the youth producers as well as analysis of their engagement with the community. We conclude with reflections on the possibilities this work presents.

Inequality and Political Engagement

In 2007, just before the current recession, the top 1% of Americans earned 23.50% of the nation’s total income.6 The income of the top 20% exceeded the income of the other 80% of the population, and those in the bottom 80% saw their incomes actually decline.7 The drop has been sharper for people of color.8 By 2010, 15.2% of Americans, or 46,600,000 people, were under the poverty line; of that number, 44% were considered in “deep poverty,” or having less than half the income necessary to rise out of poverty. One group gained in income, though: the top 1% took in 93% of the income gains made across the entire country in 2010.9

This wealth gap brings with it a political participation gap. As we become a more inequitable and segregated society, the most affluent communities are most likely to become politically active and the most impoverished communities are least likely.10 We assert that economic inequality leads to political inequality. This is not only because the have-nots have less money and time to participate politically, but also because the have-nots may feel like it’s not worthwhile to push for change or assert their own interests in the first place. In other words, they do not feel a strong sense of political efficacy.

As Coleman, Morrison, and Svennevig describe it, “To experience a sense of political efficacy is to believe that a communicative relationship exists between oneself and the institutions that govern society… Studies report that citizens who feel they can bring about political change, individually or in concert with others, are more likely to be actively involved in politics.”11 Conversely, then, those who do not feel that they can bring about change are less likely to participate.

Several factors may account for this. For one, today’s political campaigns are not targeted at lower-income Americans. Without union membership, lower-income people are less likely to be organized in an interest group, particularly one pushing for workers’ needs, less likely to contact a representative, and less likely to vote.12 They do not have the resources to contribute to campaigns. Today’s political campaigns are targeted at higher-income Americans. They are more likely to pressure public officials through interest groups, more likely to contact a representative, more likely to contribute to a campaign, and more likely to vote. In the 2008 presidential election, only about 50 percent of Americans earning less than $20,000 dollars per year voted.13 By contrast, 80 percent of those earning annual salaries of more than $100,000 voted. Lower-income people feel as if public officials are not working for them and so disengage even more.  Public officials don’t reach out to lower income people because they are disengaged and can’t be counted on to participate.

In addition to this vicious circle between campaigns and the public, government policy itself plays a role in contributing to the greater civic and political engagement or estrangement of disadvantaged Americans. For example, from World War II through the early 1970s, the GI Bill, the expansion of Social Security, and protective labor laws served to reduce disparities and raise wages, skills, and education of low- and middle-income Americans. Government not only increased the material resources of veterans, senior citizens, and union members but also increased their trust in government.  These policies and the interest groups formed around them effectively mobilized these formerly disengaged publics into the mainstream of political participation.14  “Seniors learn that they matter politically and that policymakers are receptive. Seniors’ political efficacy rises over time as they draw positive lessons about government responsiveness and about themselves as citizens.”15

By contrast, increasingly punitive means-tested welfare regulations have resulted in often hostile, fearful, and paternalistic relationships between welfare recipients and their case managers. “Compared with Social Security, [welfare] recipients are multiply damned—they have low levels of resources to begin with; the meager program benefits fail to bring them above a participatory threshold; the experience of getting the benefits disengages and disempowers them politically; and public opinion is not on their side.”16As a result, when one study asked Social Security recipients whether government officials listen to people like them, 60% said yes. Only 8% of welfare recipients said yes.17

The experiences of low-income youth of color are more similar to the welfare recipient than to the veteran or social security recipient described above.  Children and youth may form negative attitudes toward government through observing their parents’ experiences. They may also have their own direct experiences with government authorities, which can foster distrust, pushing them toward the margins of participation. “[P]olitical efficacy is formed in large measure through interaction in the immediate setting of the locally experienced world…. The most telling tales are those learnt close to home. Everyday encounters with authorities, such as school teachers, police officers and local authority officials, play a vital role in political confidence-building.”18 For example, research has shown the following:

  • Children of color are far more likely to be subjected to metal detector searches than nonminority, middle-class students are.19
  • Black students are three and one-half times more likely to be suspended than white students.20
  • More than 70% of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were black or Hispanic.21
  • Children eligible for Medicaid are given antipsychotic drugs four times as often as middle-class children and are given more powerful medication for less severe conditions.22
  • Nearly 90 percent of those stopped and frisked by New York City police are black or Latino, and guns are found in less than 1% of the cases.23

Taking these negative, “close to home” encounters with authority into consideration, schools, libraries, media centers, and other sectors of the community must provide opportunities for the most marginalized and least engaged youth to have their voices included in public dialogue.  These institutions need to support programs that build their self-confidence, trust, communication skills, and political efficacy. These opportunities can develop their understanding of how their personal experiences of injustice are connected to public problems, and with action, they can make their grievances heard, and hold public authorities accountable.

Lessons from the Educational Video Center (EVC)

Established in 1984, the Educational Video Center is a New York City-based youth media organization that teaches documentary video as a means to develop the critical media literacy and civic engagement skills of young people while nurturing their commitment to social change.  EVC provides after-school documentary workshops at its facilities and also integrates its media literacy programs in “second chance” schools for struggling learners throughout the city.  Youth participants work in partnership with advocates and organizers both in the making of their documentary and through its dissemination as a tool for community organizing and activism.  Students earn academic credit and are assessed on the skills they learn though the process.24

Over the years, EVC youth have shot and edited a range of documentaries investigating community and social issues. They have been streamed online as well as viewed on television and in schools, colleges, and community meetings.  Among the issues they have explored include displaced survivors of Hurricane Katrina (Still Standing); poor housing conditions (2371 2nd Avenue: An East Harlem Story); undocumented youth (Alienated); andyouth voting (Journeys Through the Red, White and Blue).25  In their current work in progress, youth are investigating environmental toxins—pesticides and lead poisoning—in the Harlem community.

EVC’s practice draws upon the intersecting fields of student-centered education, community documentary journalism, and digital media literacy.  Media literacy education both in the United States and abroad has roots in a protectionist stance that sought to inoculate youth from the perceived negative social and moral effects of television and advertising.  In the United States, Surgeon General reports on the influence of violence in television spurred funding for media education. Canada, the United Kingdom, and other European countries sought to preserve their literary heritage and domestic film and television industries from Hollywood-manufactured culture.  Influenced by semiotic and film screen theory in the 1960s and ‘70s, media literacy paradigms shifted over the decades from teaching against media and popular culture to a more critical analysis of its functions of ideology and representation. As the lines between high and low culture became increasingly blurred, media education increasingly emphasized a greater understanding and appreciation of—and participation in—the media culture.

In the United States, increased arts education funding, the growth of community media centers, cable access, and rapid technological innovations at a lower cost led to more widespread youth media production in schools and afterschool programs in the 1980s and ‘90s.  One strand emphasized vocational preparation for journalism and the media industries, while another emphasized media as a tool for free expression and social change inherited from the grassroots student movements of the 1960s. As the media literacy field increasingly embraced the idea of teaching for “critical autonomy” and democratic citizenship, there was a convergence with Paulo Freire’s popular literacy for empowerment. With the development of twenty-first century digital media literacy, students can now have access to video editing suites and broadcasting opportunities through Web 2.0 platforms such as YouTube, wiki spaces, Facebook, etc., that were previously only available in professional media studios.  Central goals include developing technical competencies for the workplace and the critical understanding and interpretation of information, advertising, and consumer media culture.26

EVC and a vibrant field of digital youth media literacy organizations are both inheritors of and contributors to this history, as they work to amplify youth voice and democratic participation through a melding of critical media analysis and production. Through the interweaving of these strands, EVC seeks to bring a theory and a practice that builds the efficacy of low-income, marginalized youth. Working with teachers and adults and youth from local community groups to create in-depth documentaries, the youth begin to repair their often-damaged sense of efficacy and build a renewed sense of trust and possibility for change.

In Deweyan terms, this approach seeks to (1) promote a more deliberative public by engaging students as civic journalists in a process of “continuous” inquiry with an historical and social context; (2) inform public opinion by infusing social inquiry with artistic expression; and (3) facilitate evidence based community dialogue on public affairs. Through their work at EVC, young people can build both their digital media literacy—the capacity for critically analyzing and producing a range of media—and their political efficacy—the confidence, communication and skills for taking action.

Case Study: Digital Media Literacy, Political Efficacy, and the Stop-and-Frisk Documentary

During the fifteen-week spring semester of 2012, twelve high school students produced a documentary entitled Life Under Suspicion, reporting on the New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s “Stop, Question, and Frisk” tactic used to remove guns off the streets.27

As both a work of civic journalism and media art, they weaved together their own composed music, poetry, statements from the city’s political leaders, and the compelling stories of their fellow community members. Through their research, the EVC students found that this policy resulted in nearly seven hundred thousand street stops in 2011, (a 600 percent increase in stops from 2002) and nearly 90 percent of those stopped were young African Americans and Latinos.28

Although the police declined to appear on camera, the youth interviewed the deputy Manhattan borough president, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the director and participants of a support group for male students of color, and city council members (both supporting and opposing the policy) for their perspectives on the problem and some possible solutions. They also attended city council press conferences and community forums, and recorded stories from friends, fellow students, community members, and family members, most of whom felt abused and dehumanized by these tactics.

In seeking to build political efficacy, EVC’s method seeks to offset the potentially negative impact of encounters youth are likely to have with local institutional authorities—empowering youth to inquire into authorities’ lived experiences and reference them as legitimate sources of information and storytelling. Additionally, by empowering student producers to speak as experts on their documentary subject, EVC serves to move both the participants and their community audiences (both youth and adult) from disengagement to critical awareness and civic action by addressing key elements of political efficacy-building:

  1. emphasizing the local lived experiences of everyday “close to home” encounters with authority;
  2. creating an alternative community-based language of politics that draws upon a “vernacular citizenship;”
  3. countering social isolation and building solidarity through community storytelling; and
  4. promoting community dialogue in mediated, virtual, and social spaces.29

Each of these elements is discussed in turn below.

Close to Home Encounters

The documentary surveys the effects of the stop-and-frisk policy on residents and gives statistics of stops in several low-income communities across New York City.  The local, place-based approach of the documentary gives it a sense of immediacy and brings home the issues for community audiences. Each neighborhood is named as the student producers begin their report on that particular area. The producers were all youth of color from low income and/or new immigrant communities in New York City.  Seeing interviews of residents on the streets of these neighborhoods and hearing stories of police harassment and abuse of power, the viewer from these or similar communities can identify with the information and opinions expressed.  The people on camera look and sound similar to audience members, the neighborhoods look familiar, and the encounters described are like those that they or someone they know might have had.

In one case a young man shows the place where he was made to lower his pants, take off his sneakers, and stand in the rain. Another young man takes the crew into his apartment, introduces them to his baby and grandmother, and tells of an experience of being beaten by the police. By contrast, interviews with white residents from a more middle-class section of Brooklyn show that they have had no comparable stop-and-frisk encounters with the police. They had no knowledge of what the policy was and thought the police were “doing a pretty good job.”30

Vernacular Citizenship

Low-income urban communities in general, and youth in particular, have had experiences leading them to distrust government, as noted above. The world of politics is often perceived as distant from their own lives, remote in both its legalistic language and policies. Through the documentary production process, students are able to connect concrete individual problems of injustice to abstract political issues of public concern in language and numbers that they and their community can better understand. This is the process of translating the elite discourse into more of a “vernacular” that can be used in community political dialogue.31 Many of these connections, which begin though reading articles and reports, are reinforced and made concrete through face-to-face conversations.  The EVC documentary instructor plays an important role in facilitating these political conversations, coaching students who lack the confidence and experience speaking with adults in positions of authority.  This “scaffolding” process of building the students’ internal efficacy32 is an integral part of their civic education.  It is an effective form of real-world learning, especially for new immigrants and others with low literacy skills.

Another element of building the students’ internal efficacy is having them research the basics of civics so they are confident they are asking the right questions.  Before the team interviewed New York City Council members about the policy, they needed to first learn about the structure of city government and the functions and power relations between the City Council, borough presidents, mayor, and police department.  Similarly, when they interviewed the executive director of the NYCLU, they needed to first learn what civil liberties are and what legal battles this organization was waging.

As media makers and shapers of public opinion, the youth then translated the findings from their social and political inquiry into plainspoken language. They used compelling stories to address their peers and community members at large. Their cameras and institutional affiliation with EVC opened doors to people and offices of power that would have otherwise been closed to them. Once inside, turning their cameras and questions on government political officials, the youth producers used their digital media literacy skills to assume control of the imagery and symbols of representation. Challenging traditional assumptions about political and journalistic language and power—who gets to ask questions, tell stories, and frame public debate—they flattened this hierarchy and amplified historically silenced voices.

Solidarity Through Community Storytelling

Though the youth collected multiple perspectives in their film, their final work doesn’t pretend neutrality. It has a clear purpose and point of view that can be described as advocacy. The youth were working on their film when the death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin hit the news. That event heightened already charged emotions about the racial profiling of young men of color. They include a shot of two New York City councilwomen dressed in hoodies (such as that worn by Martin) as a symbol of protest, on the steps of City Hall as they proclaim, “The demonization of young black men of color must stop!”33

Research shows that one of the reasons low-income residents tend to have less confidence and political efficacy is that they are more socially isolated than middle class and wealthy residents. Feelings of isolation and powerlessness can increase a fatalistic sense of hopelessness, anger, and frustration. A student says in the opening montage of the documentary, “They got power.  Nobody can stop them.  They can do whatever they want, frisk you, beat you up.  And they probably get away with it.” Other voices from the street say, “They disrespect us. They don’t care who you are, what you doing. If you young, African American or Hispanic, they gonna stop you, and frisk you for no reason whatsoever.”34 They have had repeated experiences where their complaints have resulted in little or no action taken in response; worse some have experienced retaliation.  Hearing stories that echo one’s own individual experiences of abuse of power from authority can create a sense that a viewer is not alone. This increases a sense of community solidarity that is a step towards channeling anger and frustration into political action against a collective injustice.35

Promoting Community Dialogue

Face-to-face and online community dialogue took place on at least four different levels.  Creating a public square on the streets, in classrooms, and community organizations, the EVC youth (1) created a debate among the multiple points of view held by government officials, students and community members, in order to spark a dialogue among audiences; (2) documented neighbors on the street corner as they debated the issues among themselves; (3) engaged audiences of viewers in discussion after watching the documentary; and (4) had online viewers discuss it in virtual spaces.

The debate the students create begins with the introductory montage of fast-paced images with crashing symbols and drumbeat intercut with statements for and against the stop-and-frisk policy. It quickly moves to an edited exchange between City Council Member Peter Vallone and the NYCLU Donna Executive Director Lieberman. Vallone defends the policy, “Ninety-two percent of the people who commit gun crimes are African American or Latino. That is the unfortunate stat.” In response, Lieberman says, “Nearly 90% of the people stopped on the street by the NYPD and doing nothing wrong are Black and Latino.”  She is given the last word between them saying, “This is one of the most ineffective, inefficient programs…. If the goal is getting guns off the street, then a success rate of .15% is an abysmal failure.”36 Then there is an actual real time dialogue captured between two black men, residents in Brooklyn. One argues that the police are doing a necessary job, “They are here for protection.”  The other sees the police as engaging in harassment to meet their arrest quotas.37

There is also a dialogue among the youth producers themselves that ends with a poetic summary statement narrated over the images.38

Finally, there is the dialogue that the video provokes among the audience in a live, social space, mediated by EVC youth producers and staff and the agency hosting the screening event.  These discussions can then include the four themes noted above.

In a screening at the Fortune Society, a social service organization for formerly incarcerated adults and youth, audience memberscheered when their neighborhood was featured and jeered when a pro-police comment was made. When the film ended, one youth in the audience responded by saying, “I hate cops.” A staff member sought to move him beyond his anger to a place of broader understanding of the need for public safety in communities, and for an alternative strategy to stop-and-frisk.  The staff member also sought to enlist youth support to join an upcoming community meeting on the problem.

When a representative from the NYCLU spoke after the screening, opportunities for further knowledge-building and networking emerged.  The young people in attendance learned first that there are other people and organizations in their community they can turn to for help and legal assistance. And they gained practical legal advice for the next time they are stopped by police. As the advocate explained, “If they frisk you, I know they talk about going in your pockets, pulling down your pants. All these different things. It’s very important when that happens, for you to say, ‘I don’t consent to this search.’ You don’t have to consent to any search.”

Finally, the dialogue was expanded to virtual space when the video was uploaded online at Vimeo.com with space for comments.  Student producers linked to the video from their Facebook pages.  A city council member embedded the documentary on her website. The Manhattan Borough President’s Office used it on line to build on-line publicity for the Father’s Day Silent March Against Stop and Frisk that they were co-sponsoring. The NYCLUsent out an e-newsflash announcement to all of its chapters and affiliates with an embedded link to the video as well. The Fortune Society also sent an e-blast to their mailing list of formerly incarcerated people with a link to the video on EVC’s website. Opportunities for engagement in virtual spaces and through face-to-face communication in the community strengthen a sense of hope and possibility to make a difference.

Conclusion

The students chose to end their film with a strong expression of political efficacy, speaking against the feelings of hopelessness and despair so prevalent in the opening montage. They end on a hopeful note with two of the youth producerssitting on a park bench discussing their own beliefs about what is needed. Khayri says, “It’s depressing to hear these stories. ‘Cause they really feel emotionally abused.  One kid said he spoke to his mother and his moms is like, ‘Well, what can you do?  What can we do?’  I don’t really believe in that…. We can do something.”39

Lack of political participation among low-income youth should not be confused with apathy or indifference.  When EVC student Raelene was asked what she learned from her EVC experience she explained, “I learned that anything is possible. And that wherever you stand at in life, you can make a difference.”  When pressed on what she meant by make a difference she said, “Reaching out and connecting with your community…. Talking breaks people out of their negativity…. Attending community meetings regularly.  A couple of weeks ago I went on the silent march to end the stop-and-frisk policy with the NYCLU. I felt like that was kinda reaching out as well….  Based on things I learned from this program, I think I will be more aware of situations that happen around me.”

Engaging youth in structured documentary inquiries into their own lived experience builds their confidence and political efficacy to question and challenge political leaders, weigh diverse perspectives, reach audiences with their informed conclusions, and join in community action.  In these times of increasing inequality, it is more important than ever to engage all members of community, including the most disadvantaged, in political dialogue and action. In this way all of the public is democratically represented.

Dewey believed that, “the heart and final guarantee of democracy is in free gatherings of neighbors on the street corner to discuss back and forth what is read in uncensored news of the day….”40 In the 21st century, digital media literacy as a tool for critical inquiry and artful storytelling can shine a light on “close to home” problems, amplify youth and community voices, and extend the face-to-face street corner gatherings into a global online conversation.  Through the production and dissemination of their civic journalism, the youth producers open possibilities for a more informed and deliberative public, illustrating what Dewey’s notion of “democracy as a way of life” can look like in practice.

 

 

Bibliography

Andrain, Charles F., and James Thomas Smith. Political Democracy, Trust, And Social Justice: A Comparative Overview. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2006.

Atkinson, Anthony, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez. “Top Incomes in the Long Run of History.” Journal of Economic Literature 49, no. 1 (2011): 3-71.

Bartels, Larry. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Buckingham, David. Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2003.

Campbell, Andrea Louise. How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Coleman, Stephen, David E. Morrison, and Michael Svennevig. “New Media and Political Efficacy.” International Journal of Communication 2 (2008): 771-791.

Dewey, John. “The Public and its Problems.”In 1925-1927, Essays, Reviews, Miscellany, and The Public and Its Problems. Vol. 2 of John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953. Edited by Jo Ann Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008. Originally published John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems.New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927.

Dewey, John. “Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us.” In 1939-1941, Essays, Reviews, and Miscellany. Vol. 14 of John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953. Edited by Jon Ann Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008. Originally published in John Dewey and the Promise of America, Progressive Education Booklet No. 14. Columbus, OH: American Education Press, 1939.

Educational Video Center. Life Under Suspicion: Youth Perspectives on the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Policy. 2012.

Goodman, Steven. Teaching Youth Media. New York: Teachers College Press, 2003.

Hill, Kim Quaile, and Jan E. Leighley. “The Policy Consequences of Class Bias in State Electorates.” American Journal of Political Science 36, no. 2 (1992): 351-365.

Hoechsmann, Michael, and Stuart R. Poyntz. Media Literacies: A Critical Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2012.

Jenkins, Henry. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Chicago: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2006.

Masterman, Len. Teaching the Media. London: Comedia Publishing Group, 1985.

Page, Benjamin, and James Simmons. What Government Can Do: Dealing with Poverty and Inequality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Piketty, Thomas, and Emmanuel Saez. “Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 118, no. 1 (2003): 1–39. Figures updated through 2007.

Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward. Why Americans Don’t Vote. New York: Pantheon, 1988.

Rosenstone, Steven, and John Mark Hansen. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York: MacMillan, 1993.

Saez, Emmanuel. “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (Updated with 2009 and 2010 estimates).” Accessed February 13, 2012. http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2010.pdf.

Schlozman, Kay Lehman, Sidney Verba, and Henry Brady. The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Shapiro, Thomas, Tatjana Messcede, and Laura Sullivan. The Racial Wealth Gap Increases Fourfold. Waltham, MA: Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University, 2011.

Soss, Joe. “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning, and Political Action.” American Political Science Review 93, no. 2 (1999): 363-380.

Soss, Joe, and Lawrence R. Jacobs. “The Place of Inequality: Non-participation in the American Polity.” Political Science Quarterly 124, no. 1 (2009): 95-125.

Tyner, Kathleen. Literacy in a Digital World. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, Inc., 1998.

U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Report. Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2012.

U.S. Congress, Congressional Budget Office. Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979-2007. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2011. Accessed February 13, 2012. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/10-25-HouseholdIncome.pdf.

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. Civil Rights Data Collection. Accessed January 6, 2013. http://find.ed.gov/search?q=cache:JH0J3QPb8ykJ:www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-2012-data-summary.pdf+black+suspension+&client=default_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&ie=UTF-8&access=p&oe=UTF-8

Wilson, Duff. “Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics,” The New York Times. December 11,2009. Accessed February 13, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/12/health/12medicaid.html?pagewanted=all.

 

 

 

 

Notes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. John Dewey, “The Public and its Problems,” in 1925-1927, Essays, Reviews, Miscellany, and The Public and Its Problems, vol. 2 of John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008), 321, 347.
  2. Dewey, “The Public and its Problems,” 183.
  3. John Dewey, “Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us,” in 1939-1941, Essays, Reviews, and Miscellany, vol. 14 of John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008), 226, 227.
  4. One of the authors, Steven Goodman, is founding director of the Educational Video Center.
  5. Educational Video Center (EVC), Life Under Suspicion: Youth Perspectives on the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Policy, documentary, 25:29, 2012, http://vimeo.com/44180057.
  6. Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, “Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 118, no. 1 (2003). Figures updated through 2007. Anthony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez. “Top Incomes in the Long Run of History,” Journal of Economic Literature 49, no. 1 (2011): 6-7.
  7. U.S. Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979-2007 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2011), accessed February 2012, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/10-25-HouseholdIncome.pdf.
  8. Thomas Shapiro, Tatjana Messcede, and Laura Sullivan, The Racial Wealth Gap Increases Fourfold (Waltham, MA: Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University, 2011).
  9. Emmanuel Saez, “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (Updated with 2009 and 2010 Estimates),” accessed February 13, 2012, http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2010.pdf.
  10. Kim Quaile Hill and Jan E. Leighley, “The Policy Consequences of Class Bias in State Electorates,” American Journal of Political Science 36, no. 2 (1992): 351-365; Benjamin Page and James Simmons, What Government Can Do: Dealing with Poverty and Inequality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000); Larry Bartels, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).
  11. Stephen Coleman, David E. Morrison, and Michael Svennevig, “New Media and Political Efficacy,” International Journal of Communication 2 (2008): 772.
  12. Joe Soss and Lawrence R. Jacobs, “The Place of Inequality: Non-participation in the American Polity,” Political Science Quarterly 124, no. 1 (2009): 98, 114. Two other factors that depress lower-income Americans’ turnout are (1) the impact of the mass incarceration of poor people of color—voting rates among the low-income formerly incarcerated is extremely low—and (2) voter suppression laws may disproportionately reduce participation among the working class and poor.
  13. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Report, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2012), 4.
  14. Soss and Jacobs, “The Place of Inequality,” 111-12.
  15. Andrea Louise Campbell, How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 138.
  16. Ibid., 136.
  17. Joe Soss, “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning, and Political Action,” American Political Science Review 93, no. 2 (1999): 370.
  18. Coleman, Morrison, and Svennevig, “New Media and Political Efficacy,” 785.
  19. Elena Mukherjee, Criminalizing the Classroom: The Over-Policing of New York City Schools (New York: New York Civil Liberties Union, 2007), 20.
  20. U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, The Transformed Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC),accessed January 6, 2013, http://find.ed.gov/search?q=cache:JH0J3QPb8ykJ:www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-2012-data-summary.pdf+black+suspension+&client=default_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&ie=UTF-8&access=p&oe=UTF-8
  21. Ibid.
  22. Duff Wilson, “Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics,” The New York Times,December 11,2009, accessed February 13, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/12/health/12medicaid.html?pagewanted=all.
  23. Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Annual Report 2011, February 2, 2012, accessed June 1, 2012, http://www.mbpo.org/uploads/AnnualReport2011.pdf.
  24. “Mission and History,” Educational Video Center, accessed January 16, 2013, http://www.evc.org/about/mission.
  25. EVC, Still Standing, documentary, 7:45, 2007, http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/still_standing; EVC, 2371 2nd Ave: An East Harlem Story, documentary, 14:03, 2012, http://vimeopro.com/educationalvideocenter/through-our-eyes-3-decades-of-nyc-youth-documentaries-an-evc-retrospective/video/36607803; EVC, Alienated, documentary, 8:17, 2005, http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/alienated_undocumented_immigrant_youth; EVC, Journeys Through the Red, White and Blue: Shon’s Journey, Brian’s Journey, Tidiane’s Journey, documentary series, 2008, http://www.vimeo.com/user805174.
  26. David Buckingham, Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2003); Steven Goodman, Teaching Youth Media (New York: Teachers College Press, 2003); Michael Hoechsmann and Stuart R. Poyntz, Media Literacies: A Critical Introduction (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2012); Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Chicago: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2006); Len Masterman, Teaching the Media (London: Comedia Publishing Group, 1985); Kathleen Tyner, Literacy in a Digital World (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, Inc., 1998).
  27. EVC, Life Under Suspicion.
  28. EVC, Life Under Suspicion, 0:07-0:13.
  29. Coleman, Morrison, and Svennevig, “New Media and Political Efficacy,” 786, 787.
  30. EVC, Life Under Suspicion, 8:22-8:44, 14:00-14:31, 14:58-15:07.
  31. Coleman, Morrison, and Svennevig, “New Media and Political Efficacy,” 786.
  32. Ibid., 772.
  33. Life Under Suspicion, 1:53-1:59.
  34. Life Under Suspicion, 0:33-0:45.
  35. Charles F. Andrain and James Thomas Smith, Political Democracy, Trust, And Social Justice: A Comparative Overview (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2006), 70.
  36. EVC, Life Under Suspicion, 1:35-1:53, 19:23-19:59.
  37. Ibid., 11:44-12:56.
  38. Ibid., 22:46-24:24. This dialogue is described in detail in the conclusion.
  39. EVC, Life Under Suspicion, 22:46-23:10.
  40. Dewey, “Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us,” 226, 227.
Steven Goodman & Carolyn Cocca

About Steven Goodman & Carolyn Cocca

Steven Goodman is the founding executive director of the Educational Video Center (www.evc.org). Carolyn Cocca is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics, Economics, and Law at the State University of New York, College at Old Westbury.

, , , , , , ,

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Building Political Efficacy and Civic Engagement through Digital Media Literacy | Educommunication | Scoop.it - February 10, 2013

    […] " (…) a project of a New York City-based nonprofit organization, the Educational Video Center (EVC, http://www.evc.org), which works to put John Dewey’s conceptual framework of “democracy as a way of life” into practice".  […]

  2. Youth Voices for Change: Building Political Efficacy and Civic Engagement through Digital Media Literacy | Journal of Digital and Media Literacy | Student Voice | Scoop.it - February 15, 2013

    […]   […]

  3. Youth Voices for Change: Building Political Efficacy and Civic Engagement through Digital Media Literacy | Journal of Digital and Media Literacy | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it - February 19, 2013

    […] John Dewey framed the question back in the 1920s: how can we build a politically engaged public practiced in the reasoned and informed deliberation and debate so necessary for a healthy democracy? Prescient in his observations of the social and political landscape, he argued in his classic The Public and Its Problems that there was a growing “eclipse of the public.” Click headline to read more–  […]

Leave a Reply


IMPORTANT

To proceed with your comment, please solve the following simple math problem. This will show that you are human and not a robotic spam generator.

What is 11 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is: