Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Communication Studies


Winter, James P.


Selby, Stuart A.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This thesis presents a political economic perspective on the ideology contained in the 1989 Ontario Ministry of Education Media Literacy Guide. An introduction to the subject of media education problematizes general characteristics of previous initiatives. It is posited that the conceptualization of media education as a response, to reaction to public and private pressures over amoral media content have resulted in theoretical approaches to media studies that are incapable of fostering the kind of critical awareness that can best equip students to comprehend media/society relations of today.

An account of the traditional media education rationale, and a critique of the liberal concept of critical thinking is followed by an overview of contributions by various political economy scholars working the area of mass communications and education. This overview emphasizes the importance of conceptualizing critical thinking as the practice of critical theory.

The 1989 Ontario Media Literacy Resource Guide is then examined by placing this initiative within the historical context of previous media education "waves", beginning with the film appreciation movement in the United States during the 1930's; the screen studies movement in Ontario during the early 1970's; and the television studies programs in the United States during the early 1980's.

The social context through which the 1989 Ontario Media Literacy Resource Guide is accounted for, including various public and private pressures for media education, and the resultant 1987 Ontario Ministry of Education media literacy mandate. A discourse analysis of the guide itself is employed to examine the congruity with the activities which are provided in the guide.

It was found that while the theoretical framework of the Ontario 1989 Media Literacy Resource Guide appeared to emphasize a critical theory approach to the study of media, a closer examination of the discourse both in the introductory theoretical framework and in the remainder of the text, found a consistent representation of libertarian theory. Therefore, the Ontario Ministry of Education initiative was found to support dominant ways of examining mass media, reproducing dominant ideology as a hegemonic text.


Digitized 2024-04-24 at the request of the author.

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