Media Literacy: Strategies to Intensify Citizenship and Democracy

Call for papers for Comunicação Pública no. 33 (December 2022)

Special Issue: Media Literacy: Strategies to Intensify Citizenship and Democracy

Editors: Ricardo Morais (IADE – Faculdade de Design, Tecnologia e Comunicação, Universidade Europeia, Universidade da Beira Interior/LabCom) and Patrícia Silveira (IADE – Faculdade de Design, Tecnologia e Comunicação, Universidade Europeia, CECS – Universidade do Minho)

Languages: Portuguese; English; Spanish

Deadline for Submission: 7 July 2022


In recent years, we have seen a violent attack on the values of democracy. The growth of populism and authoritarian governments has contributed to a democratic backlash. In this context of threat to liberal democracy, citizenship and civic participation are also at risk. It is therefore urgent to reflect upon the growth of these trends, but above all it is necessary to understand that in a scenario dominated by media and digital communication, as well as by disinformation, it is essential to develop literacy for citizenship, participation and democracy.

Description and Framework

In recent years there have been several phenomena put democratic values to the test, to the point that we now can speak of a regression of liberal democracies around the world (V-Dem 2020; Democracy Index, 2019). The political transformations that have taken place in countries such as Hungary, Turkey or Brazil, with the election of populist leaders and the constitution of anti- democratic governments, are just some of the visible faces of a larger problem, which reaches its maximum expression with the increase in the number of autocracies, which is now higher than that of democracies, something that has not occurred since 2001 (V-Dem, 2020, p. 6).

Researchers have explained most of these transformations based on the idea that citizens no longer trust “the political system and democratic institutions” (Belchior, 2015). This mistrust would be at the origin of citizens’ discontent and at the base of their adherence to populist politicians, who defend nationalist or protectionist measures, as well as restrictions to individual freedoms and rights.

The media have been used, in this process, as the main channel to transmit populist ideas. When the media are not available, digital platforms are the privileged vehicles to attack traditional media, convey disinformation and encourage the polarization of discourses. In this context, the question that arises is whether citizens are prepared to understand and critically assess the diversity of messages to which they are exposed in contemporary society.

The fast pace at which information circulates, especially in the digital world, combined with the transformations that have taken place in the production of content (Bruns, 2007; Anderson, Bell & Shirky, 2014), have reinforced the importance of promoting media and digital literacy as a democratic development strategy. Critical understanding and active participation are thus the basis of all democracies, as the absence of these competences prevents certain sectors of society from making informed choices, exposing them to false content and affecting the nature and quality of public debate.

In this context we understand that it is necessary to consolidate scientific knowledge and the perception that citizens have about the democratic process, civic participation and citizenship. It is not simply a matter of analyzing what the public knows about politicians or political institutions. Thinking about literacy for citizenship and democracy is to enter the broader field of identifying a set of competencies without which citizens would not be able to act critically, in a democratic context. In this sense, this call for papers aims to collect theoretical and empirical contributions that can help to reflect on the importance of this kind of literacy for citizenship and democracy, and more specifically what skills should be developed and what tools can be used to help combat democratic backlash. Among others, it seeks to obtain answers to the following questions: How to prepare citizens to participate critically in the democratic process? What kind of knowledge, attitudes and skills are essential for the exercise of citizenship in the digital age? To whom should media literacy actions be addressed? What strategies can help foster young people’s interest in democracy?

Objectives and approaches

Considering that literacy for citizenship and democracy is the central axis of this call for papers, we seek contributions that take into account the following topics, (although not limited to them):

• Media literacy, citizenship and democracy
• Misinformation and information literacy
• Populisms, polarization and digital literacy
• Digital divide, teaching and media literacy
• Political literacy and civic participation
• Public policies and media literacy
• Technology, literacy and digital citizenship

Key Dates

1st Call for Papers: 1 March 2022
Deadline for Submissions: 7 July 2022
Deadline for Notification of Acceptance: 15 October 2022
Deadline for submitting the final version of accepted paper: 1 November 2022 Publication date: 15 December 2022


All questions about the call for papers should be e-mailed to:
(ricardo.morais /at/


No payment from the authors wiil be required.

Submission guidelines:

Articles must be submitted online via Authors are required to register in the system before submitting an article; if you have already registered, simply log into the system and start the 5-step submission process. Articles must be submitted using the pre- formatted template of Comunicação Pública. For more information on submission, please read Information for Authors and Guidelines for Authors