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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published online by De Gruyter Mouton March 1, 2023

Can media literacy help to promote civic participation? It’s not quite that simple

  • Ianis Bucholtz ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Vineta Silkāne and Agnese Dāvidsone
From the journal Communications


A number of previous studies have documented the link between media literacy and civic or political participation, and some researchers argue that the advancement of media literacy may encourage citizens to take part in addressing various issues of societal concern. However, the previous studies tend to include relatively few civic or political activities in the measurements and do not demonstrate in detail how different dimensions of media literacy are related to particular forms of participation. This study addresses these issues using survey data from Latvia (N = 871). The results show that a link between media literacy and civic participation exists, but media literacy explains a relatively small variance in civic participation activities. We advocate caution when considering whether media literacy itself promotes civic participation, because other phenomena, which further studies should explore, could contribute to both media literacy and civic participation. While acknowledging the general importance of media literacy, this paper argues that individuals with these skills do not necessarily use them for civic participation, and that increased levels of media literacy may not offset the structural reasons for low civic activity in a society.

Funder Name

Izglītības un zinātnes ministrija, Funder Id:, Grant Number: VPP-IZM-2018/1-0013


This work was carried out within the research project “Values in action: Promotion of responsible, secure and educated civil society in Latvia through research and model development” (VPP-IZM-2018/1-0013). The project is part of the National Research Program “The Latvian heritage and future challenges for the sustainability of the country” and is funded by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia.


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Published Online: 2023-03-01

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