I materiali legati con cemento: i masselli autobloccanti per pavimentazioni pedonali

4.1. Introduzione

A Swedish Government Commission

Carl Heath and Henrik Selin

Government Commission for Media and Information Literacy and Democratic Dialogue

Digitization has brought massive benefits to society and continuously facilitates people’s access to informa-tion, knowledge and dialogue. At the same time developments in the digital domain has brought about new challenges that strongly affect democracy and civilized public discourse. As one of several policy measures to defend and strengthen democracy in Sweden, the Government has recently appointed a Commission with the mandate to lead a national effort on media and information literacy and democratic dialogue. This chapter provides background and context for this decision as well as objectives and plans for the Commission’s work.

Democratic dialogue – public discourse between citizens on arenas we can trust

Strong democracies need well-informed and active citizens, and an open and inclusive democratic public discourse requires widespread access to trusted information about the development of society. The cornerstones for such access is freedom of speech and information, and free and independent media available to all. But democratic dialogue in society also takes place in many other everyday arenas where citizens can make their voices heard and form opinion, both in public settings and in more private or closed domains. Such a democratic dialogue between citizens is best pursued on arenas where people feel safe enough to participate.

Developments in the digital domain in the past decades have contributed to a situation where more people than ever in history have the possibility to express and take part of information, ideas and opinions.

Internet and social media have lowered the thresholds for political participation and have fundamentally changed the ways in which democratic dialogue can be pursued.

At the same time, digitization has brought about new challenges which have proven to affect demo-cracy and civilized public discourse in negative ways, such as disinformation, “junk news” and a harsher, more polarized debate climate with an increase in hate speech and threats online.1 The same innovative technologies that are enabling new models of interaction, new opportunities for knowledge and business, can be abused to invade people’s privacy, provide new tools of discrimination, and harm individuals and communities.

These challenges risk fueling a negative climate where more and more people withdraw from par-ticipating in the public discourse both in general and on digital platforms, which in turn can undermine democratic participation and involvement and lead to a decline in people’s trust in institutions and between individuals in society. Research shows that elected officials on local level and journalists tend to limit their activities because of intimidations and threats. One example: one out of four locally elected officials in Sweden have been subject to some form of harassment; among them one out of three report that they have censored themselves for these reasons at some point.2

In parallel, the information environment is undergoing rapid transformation, bringing about funda-mental changes in the way people consume information and entertainment, and altering the business models of traditional media in the face of competition from born-digital players.

In Sweden, like in most countries, there is currently an on-going discussion about how society should deal with these challenges. Much concern is also raised about the role and responsibilities of the large internet platforms and their impact on democracy. Questions like concentration of power, transparency, regulation vs self-regulation and protection of citizens’ data and integrity are on debate. On the European level, the European Commission is particularly active in pursuing a discussion with member states, internet platforms and other stakeholders on ways of tackling digital challenges such as fake news and disinformation.3 There is also an increasing awareness of the need for empowerment and for strengthening knowledge and capacity of individual citizens, by measures such as civic education, digital literacy and media and information literacy.

Media and information literacy – a question of democracy

From the political level, the Swedish red/green Government coalition in June 2018 published a ‘Strategy for a Strong Democracy – promote, consolidate and defend’4, summarizing the state of democracy in Sweden and the challenges it faces, including developments like segregation, lack of participation, fragmented media use and various types of threats to public discourse including extremism, hate speech, disinforma-tion and attempts to influence the political process and the integrity of elecdisinforma-tions.

The strategy outlines concrete steps to deal with these challenges with a view to strengthening democracy. Under the heading of Democratic Learning, several initiatives are described, many of which have subsequently led to policy initiatives in the form of assignments and grants to actors in relevant sectors. Among such initiatives are: capacity development for teachers in the field of democracy, demo-cratic education materials for newly arrived immigrants and a strengthening of the role of public libraries.

Alongside these efforts, the Government has also made the strengthening of media and information literacy a priority, with a focus on digital literacy and source criticism in schools and a national cam-paign for media and information literacy. Much of the background and impetus for this is the result of work carried out by Nordicom, the Nordic knowledge center in the field of media and communication. In June 2018, a thorough knowledge overview of the media and information literacy system in Sweden was published, including challenges and opportunities for the future development of a comprehensive policy on these matters.5

The tasks and work of the Commission

In August 2018 the Government appointed the Commission for a national effort on media and information literacy and democratic dialogue.6 The mission is to – until October 2020 – collaborate with existing initia-tives in the field of media and information literacy with a view to increase the level of activity in the field, including by spreading good examples and methods to all citizens and by inspiring new players in society to join the work of strengthening citizens’ resilience in the face of disinformation, propaganda and hate speech. The mission is given to Special Counsel Carl Heath, who is supported by a secretariat at the Government Offices.

The work of the Commission is combined with several initiatives where additional financial resources have been made available. Many of these activities are carried out by civil society actors, but also by public bodies such as the National Library in cooperation with libraries nationwide. In parallel, the Government

literacy in Sweden – to establish a network for strengthened collaboration and dialogue between the main actors in the field of media and information literacy on national, regional and local level, with the Council as an active resource.7 In total, these measures sum up to what can be labelled “a concentrated national effort on media and information literacy” in Sweden during 2019 and 2020.

The Commission has been given a wide mandate, but will focus its activities on the following main tasks, which are described in more detail below:

1. Mapping a) the current state of knowledge and b) on-going activities aimed at empowering and strengthening citizens’ resilience against online challenges

2. Outreach activities complementing on-going initiatives and spreading good methods and examples 3. Needs analysis and recommendations to Government

Mapping available knowledge and on-going activities

The Commission is undertaking initiatives to map and analyze all activities which promote resilience among citizens against online challenges in Sweden. This exercise covers media and information literacy initiatives and organizations, but it also includes other initiatives and actors relevant for the objective, such as state actors in the police, security and defense sectors, civil society-based associations, and the parties on the labor market. In the past few years several new initiatives addressing democratic challenges such as racism, segregation, polarization and hate speech have surfaced as a result of reactions from indi-viduals and civil society. Many of these employ methods and practices which contri bute to skills develop-ment relevant for media literacy.

The Commission is also making an inventory of existing pedagogic materials and examples produced for the promotion of media and information literacy skills and other means of strengthening resilience.

The purpose is to make it easier for those already working in the sector to find available resources and benefit from possibilities for synergies, but also to facilitate for the introduction of new players to the field, and on a wider scale for the general public to be able to find material. The inventory shows that there is indeed a large available pool of relevant materials covering many relevant aspects of media and informa-tion literacy. One problem is that this material is often difficult to find. There are no collective repositories for materials in the sector, it is not easily searchable, producers often work in silos and the potential for coordination and synergies is under-used.

In terms of organized activities in the field of media and information literacy, there has long been an emphasis on the younger generations, with the education system as an important intermediary. There are indeed several examples of important work also towards other groups of citizens, not least in the work carried out by public libraries and various initiatives focusing on children's parents. But there are many examples of groups in society who have not been the subject of activities directed at strengthening knowledge and resilience. Most current activities are also limited in terms of their ability to sustain a long-term approach and of how well they cover Sweden’s widespread geography.

There are several ongoing or planned research initiatives attempting to take a more long-term look at developments in this field, including the state of knowledge about the nature and consequences of disinformation, propaganda and hate speech. One such Swedish project of interest is a new six-year long cross-disciplinary research program (5 MEUR) called ‘Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences and Cures’, combining scholars from different fields, including philosophy, psychology, media and communi-cations studies and political science.8

Outreach activities together with the sector

The Commission will assume the role of an enabler, cooperating closely with the actors in the sector, helping to amplify and spread good examples and methods in society. One approach is to benefit from valuable experiences drawn from the work in promoting media and information literacy skills among children and young people (e.g. in schools), in inspiring and challenging similar work for other groups of citizens.

The Commission is planning a national tour of Sweden, aiming at reaching out to local communities and target groups. These activities will combine lectures with workshops where local actors can help the Commission get a better understanding of experiences and needs at the local level. The Commission will work together with existing organizations and initiatives, complementing and highlighting all the good work which is underway and support further spreading of good examples and methods with a view to inspire continued action.

In addition to this tour, the Commission will participate on arenas and events where both the media and information literacy sector and other relevant sectors congregate, including “new” sectors such as security, public health, sports and the gaming sector. The Commission will also arrange specific events, seminars and workshops with other parts of society where further discussions on the topic of democratic dialogue are relevant, for example in the media sector, in civil society and among organizations for the elderly.

Analyze the need for further action and propose recommendations to the Government

The Commission has the option to put forward proposals to the Government if needed, based on findings and insights from its activities and from actors in and around the sector. Such proposals can cover any aspect, but some are likely to focus on governance structures, for example how policy in the field of media and information literacy and other means of strengthening resilience against online challenges can be developed in a more strategic manner and how to promote cooperation across sectors and create the best preconditions for long-term impact in reaching out to all groups in society. It will also be important to look at how efforts in the sector can be subject to relevant follow-up, evaluations and research.

Regulatory questions

The Commission will study the legal situation from the perspective of whether citizens are aware of their rights and obligations in the digital domain. This field of knowledge is an important part in the overall work of promoting media and information literacy among citizens. Examples of Commission activities could include discussions among regulators on issues such as how the current broadcasting regulation and the complaints system under consumer rights legislation is adapted to today’s media landscape, and how well-known these systems are to the public.

Currently, there are several initiatives in the legal field who point out that there are indeed legal instruments which apply also to the digital domain.9 Any citizen has the right not to have his or her rights violated or be harassed or threatened, and this (of course) applies also online. The same initiatives how-ever point out that the problem at hand is a lack of “access to justice”, i.e. the system of investigation and prosecution of crimes committed online is far behind that which applies in the off-line world.

Among the reasons put forward for this situation are resource scarcity, problems regarding clarity of

“there is no point in reporting these crimes because nothing will happen anyway”. Less than 20 percent of locally elected officials report serious threats to the police, and a similar trend can be seen among journalists.11 This development is an example of the vicious circle that applies when a certain situation in society is taken for granted and not challenged and how that can affect trust in institutions and ultimately civic engagement. On a positive note however, the Police Authority and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) have recently formed a plea to local authorities and regions, in the publi-cation Always report acts of threat, hatred and violence, which signals a renewed willingness to act on such crimes.12

Expected outcomes of the Commission’s work

Society’s response to the challenges facing democratic dialogue in digital arenas will have to be based on a combination of several measures. Such measures must include continued provisions for the widest possible freedom of speech and information, and should promote a healthy media ecology characterized by pluralism, quality and access for all. Today, there is also near unanimity in society that stronger media and information literacy among citizens is a necessary condition for maintaining freedom of speech and democracy as well as for citizens’ personal development in relation to digitization and its effects.

The Commission’s aim is to contribute to the following:

• An increase in the level of activity within the field of media and information literacy and other measures aimed at empowering and strengthening citizens’ resilience in today’s media land-scape

• Highlighting media and information literacy as necessary skills for all citizens

• New actors take initiatives in contributing to reaching citizens of all age groups

• Improved reach for media and information literacy initiatives

• Improved basis for decision-making on policy for media and information literacy

A well-functioning policy for media and information literacy will require a comprehensive national frame-work with a broad perspective and with participation by several sectors in society. Such a frameframe-work must be knowledge-based and clarify the objectives, strategy and governance structures for the policy area, including the role of the state in providing the best preconditions for implementation of activities.

The Commission’s work to map and analyze the structures of current, often somewhat fragmented, work in the field of media and information literacy could also lead to better visibility of the structures (actors, materials, opportunities etc.), making it easier for new players to take initiatives reaching out to new groups in society.

An often-repeated comment from the Commission’s meetings with organizations in the field is that there is a need for better coordination among initiatives. Many actors seem to feel that they are operating in isolation, and that there is potential for more concrete collaboration, synergies and sharing of ideas and materials. Here, the Media Council aims at developing an ability to play a role, within its mandate to estab-lish a network for the sector.

The work of the Commission will of course only be one part in what needs to be a long-term effort, including a multitude of relevant actors in society. The Commission’s contribution will be to engage in a nation-wide collaborative effort with these players and to analyze the need for further action to provide the right preconditions for better impact. In the long run, a successful policy for strengthening citizens’

resilience can contribute to reaching overall objectives such as increased trust in digital arenas and a situation where more people participate and are actively involved in democracy.


1 See f.ex. Strategy for a Strong Democracy, promote, consolidate and defend, Government Offices 2018, Action Plan:

defending free speech, Government Offices (Ku18.01); Good Sweden, Bad Sweden, The use and abuse of Swedish values in a post-truth world, Paul Rapacioli, Volante 2018 and News and Political Information Consumption in Sweden:

Mapping the 2018 Swedish General Election on Twitter, Oxford Internet Institute 2018.

2 Politikernas trygghetsundersökning, Brottsförebyggande rådet 2017.

3 https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/fake-news-disinformation

4 Strategy for a Strong Democracy, promote, consolidate and defend, Government Offices 2018.

5 Medie- och informationskunnighet i den digitala tidsåldern. En demokratifråga. Kartläggning, analyser, reflektioner, red. Ulla Carlsson, Nordicom 2018.

6 Government Offices, Dir. 2018:88, https://www.regeringen.se/rattsliga-dokument/kommittedirektiv/2018/08/


7 See chapter 18 in this publication.

8 Knowledge resistance – causes, consequences and cures, Stockholm University 2018.

9 See f.ex. Näthat – Rättigheter och Möjligheter, Alexandra Sackemark & Mårten Schultz, Karnov 2015 and www.nathatsgranskaren.se

10 Sackemark & Schultz and Nätkränkningar som rättsligt och demokratiskt problem, Hans-Gunnar Axberger, Institutet för Juridik och Internet 2018.

11 Politikernas trygghetsundersökning 2017, Brottsförebyggande rådet. Journalisternas.

12 Anmäl alltid hot, hat och våld, Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting, 2019.

For further information

In Swedish: http://www.demokratiskasamtalet.se In English: https://www.demokratiskasamtalet.se/english/

21. Media and Information Literacy and

In document Analisi sperimentale dei materiali della sovrastruttura stradale attraverso il metodo agli Elementi Distinti Particellari (Page 122-125)