Youth And Online Politics
Here’s a good Independence Day read for our American Agitators in particular, but for all who want more insight into how online tools are re-shaping political participation amongst youth (15-25 year-olds) … Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action, funded by an arm of the MacArthur Foundation.
‘Participatory politics’ is defined as: “interactive, peer-based acts through which individuals and groups seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern”. The study says 41% of youth have so engaged. And of this group, fully 90% either vote or engage in traditional institutional politics.
The most striking aspect of participatory politics to the study authors seems to be that “these acts are not guided by deference to elites or formal institutions”. To which I would add that ‘formal institutions’ should be taken to include traditional advocacy groups.
As the study notes: “Participatory politics allow individuals to operate with greater independence in the political realm, circumventing traditional gatekeepers of information and influence, such as newspaper editors, political parties, and interest groups.”
Heaps of data in here regarding the online behaviors of youth.
Not surprisingly, the non-political activities youth engage in via social media bleed over into political expectations and behavior as well. As the study puts it: “…the participatory skills, norms, and networks that develop when social media is used to socialize with friends or to engage with those who share one’s interests can and are being transferred to the political realm.”
The study asked about eleven specific ‘participatory political activities’. The most frequent activity (done by 20%): “Forwarded or circulated funny videos or cartoons or circulated something artistic that related to a political
candidate, campaign or political issues.”
‘Participatory political activities’ are contrasted to more conventional practices, like ‘raising or donating money’ online (3%) and ‘signing online petitions’ (16%).
What’s the possible role of traditional advocacy groups in this digital context? The answer might lie in bestowing credibility. The study notes: “the vast majority (84 percent) reports that they and their peers would benefit from help judging the credibility of what they see online … Clearly, the digital era expands the need for media literacy. Youth must learn how to judge the credibility of online information and find divergent views on varied issues.”
This article was posted in: Don't Miss these Posts, Hot Research, issue fundraising, media usage, new media, online activism, online advocacy, online fundraising, politics, social networking.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.