Ayo Oyeleye

Social justice communication scholarship and the need to challenge the rhetoric of market fundamentalism

This paper is positioned as a part of the ongoing efforts in critical scholarship to forestall a normalisation of structures of hierarchy and injustice in social order globally. It focuses specifically on the subject of social justice in the context of a globalised neoliberal doctrine that has been relentlessly offered as the only viable narrative for understanding the organisation of social life by its proselytisers. Based on the understanding that the social world is constructed through language and other communication practices this paper contends that media and communication scholarship has a crucial ethical obligation to forestall the attempts by the economic, political and cultural elites at national and global levels to impose a reductive understanding of the world as co-extensive with market functioning. The paper argues for a social justice communication scholarship that is not only useful for mounting a counterdiscourse against the allure of a pervasive neoliberal rhetoric but represents a core ethical obligation on the part of all those who see themselves as public intellectuals in contemporary global society. The paper further contends that developing a social justice sensibility and sharpening one's communicative imagination are essential resources necessary for interrogating the often beguiling and pervasive rhetoric of contemporary social order that Couldry (2010: 6) has referred to as the phase of 'neoliberalism as meaning', and for envisioning an alternative, liberating social order.

Keywords: partisan criticism, social justice sensibility, neoliberalism, communicative imagination, narrative imagination, moral intelligence, feedforward impulse


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Note on the contributor

Ayo Oyeleye is senior lecturer in Media Studies and Director of the Media Postgraduate Awards Suite at the Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University. His current teaching and research interests are in the areas of communication for social justice; global and social justice journalism; and communication for social change and sustainable development. Contact details: Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University, Parkside Campus, Curzon Street, Birmingham B4 7XG. Telephone +44 121 331 5000; email ayo.oyeleye@bcu.ac.uk