Youth, Media Activism, and Communication Counterpower: A Comparative Study
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CitationLee, Ashley. 2020. Youth, Media Activism, and Communication Counterpower: A Comparative Study. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractAround the world, young people are leveraging new media to engage with civic and political issues outside the confines of traditional public institutions (e.g. voting). This shift seemed initially to signal enormous potential for democratic renewal globally, with the emergence of new political actors and new forms of political engagement. The Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and the Global Climate Strikes offer examples of the creative ways in which young people (and others) can use new media to share information, connect with peers, mobilize with goal of advancing their causes. But following the resurgence of authoritarian leadership in the Middle East and recent political events such as the 2016 U.S. election and the #Brexit campaigns, intense debates have arisen about whether social media use in fact is as likely to undermine as to advance democratic processes.
Social media use presents new opportunities for youth who were previously excluded from formal channels of political participation; but increasingly, these platforms subject youth to surveillance, censorship, and other forms of repression. In this project, I examine how politically active young people in democratic and non-democratic countries leverage social media to exercise voice in contentious politics.
My dissertation draws on in-depth interviews, social media walkthroughs, and surveys with 91 young media activists (ages 18-30) in two democracies (Canada and the US) and an authoritarian regime (Cambodia). In this dissertation, I develop conceptual and analytical tools to center the voices of youth—especially marginalized youth—that have been obscured by the traditional focus on public, institutionalized forms of participation. This research aims to contribute to emerging scholarship on youth and media activism, and to inform the development of initiatives that encourage young people’s constructive participation in public spheres.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364536