Bridging Media Literacy with Green Cultural Citizenship
Chapter Two: Metaphors as Meaning Design
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We tend to grasp emergent realities with previously codified ways of seeing the world, which are expressed in particular metaphors we inherit from the past. McLuhan (2002b) observed this with the analogy that people view emerging media by looking through the rearview mirror. This helps explain why the initial rise of mass media was communicated with agricultural metaphors (terms such as broadcast, field, and culture all derived from agrarian practices), and why new digital media are often discussed from a book literacy framework (i.e., commonly used media education terms include reading, literacy, grammar, and text). Likewise, the source of the modern ecology metaphor and its influence on contemporary studies comes from the Western silo-ing of knowledge that splits economy and environment from their original linkage. In the 19th century when our hierarchies of knowledge were codified, the field of ecology was assigned to the biological sciences; yet the Greek word, oikos, at the root of ecology and economics refers to household, house, and family. Ernst Haeckel, who coined the term in 1866, chose oikos because he intended for ecology to mean the economy of nature. Subsequently, Jacobs (J. Jacobs, 2001, p. 10) contends that ecology’s root meaning is house knowledge and economy represents house management. This integrative approach differs from the way in which economy and ecology are treated as separate realms of knowledge.
This is not to say ecological metaphors have not been used to describe human societies. On the heels of Darwin’s theory of evolution, one...
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