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Digital Civil Society

Democratic Education in the Digital Era


Julian Culp (History and Politics): Digital Literacy and Democratic Citizenship Education 


As of late philosophers of education have disagreed whether an “epistemic” or a “moral” justification for the importance of developing future citizens’ discursive agency would be best. Despite their theoretical disagreements these philosophers have agreed at the practical level that forming future citizens’ discursive agency should be a central aim of democratic citizenship education. The paper takes this agreement as its starting point and asks how to conceive democratic citizenship education within a political environment that is profoundly shaped by the use of digital information and communication technologies. The use of these technologies, communication scholars argue, has led to phenomena such as “fake news” and “echo chambers,” which in turn distort and fragment political discourses. The paper will analyze this transformation of political discourse and examine the role that teaching digital literacy plays under such conditions for democratic citizenship education. The paper will highlight the continuity between information and digital literacy and emphasize the importance of high-levels of wide-spread general education for digital literacy. The paper will end on a cautionary note and identify several cultural and economic success conditions of teaching digital literacy that democratic citizenship education itself cannot influence.