Digital Natives Politically Active? Not So Fast

Lauren Barack -- School Library Journal, 3/15/2010 8:52:00 AM

Are so-called digital natives more engaged in cultural and political causes? Experts are questioning whether the innate facility young people have with technology has truly translated into more thoughtful participation in the political arena—or whether the idea of what being politically involved means is actually changing.

“Traditionally, we’ve defined political engagement in terms of citizen engagement with their government through, for example, voting behavior,” says Henry Jenkins, Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, by email. “We certainly saw a significant surge in youth participation in the last presidential election, but this may have also set up expectations about change, which have not been borne out by the partisan rancor and the stalemate in Washington, DC, over the past year or so. Young people are as likely to turn to other mechanisms for bringing about social change.”

Data bears out Jenkins’s point that traditional modes of political activism are not what younger people favor. Those who fall between the ages of 18 and 24 are the least likely to use email to contact government officials and least likely to be active online for a civic or political activity, according to a 2008 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

But that doesn’t mean young people aren't involved with political causes or those issues that tap into their concerns, such as attempts to restrict their freedom of expression.

Jenkins cites "buycotts"—basically, boycotts conducted through purchasing decisions—as one example of a tactic young people use to express political or social concerns. He also notes that organizations like Invisible Children and the Harry Potter (HP) Alliance have captured young people’s attention online—and harnessed their enthusiasm toward certain goals, such as gathering 2,893 signatures for the Dream for Darfur’s “Switch Over Campaign.”

So digital natives are politically and socially active, but in ways far different from the activism of previous generations.

“These groups tap skills that have developed through their fan or sub-cultural practices and deploy them toward civic causes,” says Jenkins. “We want to better understand what makes groups like the Harry Potter Alliance or Invisible Children so effective at reaching young people who are left cold by more conventional forms of political organizing.”

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

0 Response to "Digital Natives Politically Active? Not So Fast"

Postar um comentário