Boys 'doing' and 'undoing' media education : new possibilities for theory and practice

Dezuanni, Michael L. (2008) Boys 'doing' and 'undoing' media education : new possibilities for theory and practice. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The purpose of this study is to investigate how secondary school media educators might best meet the needs of students who prefer practical production work to ‘theory’ work in media studies classrooms. This is a significant problem for a curriculum area that claims to develop students’ media literacies by providing them with critical frameworks and a metalanguage for thinking about the media. It is a problem that seems to have become more urgent with the availability of new media technologies and forms like video games. The study is located in the field of media education, which tends to draw on structuralist understandings of the relationships between young people and media and suggests that students can be empowered to resist media’s persuasive discourses. Recent theoretical developments suggest too little emphasis has been placed on the participatory aspects of young people playing with, creating and gaining pleasure from media. This study contributes to this ‘participatory’ approach by bringing post structuralist perspectives to the field, which have been absent from studies of secondary school media education. I suggest theories of media learning must take account of the ongoing formation of students’ subjectivities as they negotiate social, cultural and educational norms. Michel Foucault’s theory of ‘technologies of the self’ and Judith Butler’s theories of performativity and recognition are used to develop an argument that media learning occurs in the context of students negotiating various ‘ethical systems’ as they establish their social viability through achieving recognition within communities of practice. The concept of ‘ethical systems’ has been developed for this study by drawing on Foucault’s theories of discourse and ‘truth regimes’ and Butler’s updating of Althusser’s theory of interpellation. This post structuralist approach makes it possible to investigate the ways in which students productively repeat and vary norms to creatively ‘do’ and ‘undo’ the various media learning activities with which they are required to engage. The study focuses on a group of year ten students in an all boys’ Catholic urban school in Australia who undertook learning about video games in a three-week intensive ‘immersion’ program. The analysis examines the ethical systems operating in the classroom, including formal systems of schooling, informal systems of popular cultural practice and systems of masculinity. It also examines the students’ use of semiotic resources to repeat and/or vary norms while reflecting on, discussing, designing and producing video games. The key findings of the study are that students are motivated to learn technology skills and production processes rather than ‘theory’ work. This motivation stems from the students’ desire to become recognisable in communities of technological and masculine practice. However, student agency is not only possible through critical responses to media, but through performative variation of norms through creative ethical practices as students participate with new media technologies. Therefore, the opportunities exist for media educators to create the conditions for variation of norms through production activities. The study offers several implications for media education theory and practice including: the productive possibilities of post structuralism for informing ways of doing media education; the importance of media teachers having the autonomy to creatively plan curriculum; the advantages of media and technology teachers collaborating to draw on a broad range of resources to develop curriculum; the benefits of placing more emphasis on students’ creative uses of media; and the advantages of blending formal classroom approaches to media education with less formal out of school experiences.

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ID Code: 29137
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Mallan, Kerry M.
Keywords: media education, video games, agency, post structuralism, performativity, participatory culture, masculinities
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 07 Dec 2009 05:06
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2011 13:52

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