Social justice pedagogy in action

Media Inequality is a level 6 optional unit I developed in 2014 for students taking degrees in the Corporate Marketing Communications (CMC) department in the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. The degrees are in advertising, public relations, marketing communications and politics.

I designed the unit to help students critically engage with historical and contemporary issues around race, ethnicity and culture and their relationship with power across the media and in communications practice. In order to increase employability, I had a specific aim to help students develop cultural competencies that can be applied in a professional context to a range of communication industries.

I structured the unit content into three key areas as incremental stages of the learning process

  1.  Developing conceptual and theoretical knowledge as tools of critical analysis
  2.  Understanding key contemporary topical issues and debates
  3. Applying both to the third area, communications practice.

Some of the critical theories and concepts covered on the unit are: Whiteness, critical race theory, Black feminism, intersectionality and representation. Topical issues covered include: Whiteness in media and sport (drawing on the work Hylton & Lawrence and Long & Hylton); Gender, race and representation in the media, representation of Islam and Muslims in the media, representation of the White working classes in media and popular culture and racialized politics in the UK and USA. Communications practice focuses on advertising, public relations, marketing communications and political communication.

The unit ran for the first time in the 2016/17 academic year and I was truly impressed with the deep level of engagement among the 21 students who took the unit, which I believe is attributable to a genuine interest in the subject and adopting a dialogical pedagogic approach to teaching, enabling the students to talk openly and freely in a relaxed atmosphere.

In week three of the course in October 2016, Two students on this unit: Ray Taiwo (BA Public Relations) and Stacey Kelly-Maher (BA Marketing Communications) (pictured above) took part in interviews with BBC Radio Solent reporter Rebecca Romo and the show aired on Monday 17 October during the Breakfast show on 96.1.

All the students on the unit contributed to the show by helping select the adverts to be featured and providing feedback on the script, which I prepared. They also became the audience during the recording of the show, helping to create the atmosphere of a live studio discussion.

The purpose of the radio show was to help students prepare for their video presentation assessment which requires them to discuss topical issues in the media relating to race ethnicity and culture. By taking part in the development of the radio programme, students went through the process of unpacking complex issues using specific examples, drawing on critical theories and articulating problems from an informed position.


Hylton, K. and Lawrence, S. (2015) Reading Ronaldo: contingent whiteness in the football media. Soccer and Society.

Long, J. and Hylton, K. (2002) Shades of white: An examination of whiteness in sport. Leisure Studies, 21 (2) April, pp. 87-103

Dr Deborah Gabriel

I'm a Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University who has lectured in journalism, politics, new media and corporate marketing communications. I aim to contribute to social change through teaching, research and professional practice, and I'm especially interested in race equality.

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