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Do It Yourself – Youth Civic Participation and New Types of Action

Citizenship
Political Participation
Social Movements
Internet
Political Engagement
Activism
Youth
P119
Anna Fiedler
The University of Hong Kong
Frank Reichert
The University of Hong Kong
Frank Reichert
The University of Hong Kong

Abstract

The ability to participate in political processes is a defining element of citizenship as it enables citizens to hold their representatives accountable and to influence political decision-making. What accounts for political participation has been repeatedly reevaluated in light of ever evolving political spheres. Nonetheless, institutionalized forms of participation (e.g., voting, volunteering) have remained the focal point of analysis. Young people are marginalized from many institutional channels for participation, even though today’s political decisions will shape their futures and the world for which they will be responsible. One important aspect are educational institutions where young people are educated on citizenship and civic participation and are confronted with communal work. But which channels are provided for primary and high-school students to voice concerns? How do they engage? Oftentimes young people’s voices are underrepresented due to limited opportunities to engage in political processes. Although youth are often described as politically ‘apathetic’ or ‘disengaged’, they are interested in political affairs and have become more active and connected through new modes of engagement, described by some as ‘Do-It-Yourself’ (DIY) or ‘Do-It-Ourself’ citizenship. This reflects a move from a duty-based concept of citizenship and institutionalized participation towards ‘self-actualized citizenship’ based on lifestyle values (e.g., expressed through ‘buycotting’). More recently, youth have successfully instigated major collective movements using informal channels and self-coordinated, peer-to-peer exchanges, often enabled through digital communication, online networks, and a unique sense of belonging. In some cases digital activism has become a dominant mode of organization and mobilization resulting in ever changing mechanisms and tools for digital activism. Others have re-embraced established grass-roots channels of offline communication, such as zines. Whether and how communities are created online and offline of course depends on respective societal circumstances. This panel aims to explore some of these new modes of participation that young people adopt to make their voices heard, as well as their societal roots and consequences.

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