The Networked Young Citizen: Social Media, Political Participation and Civic Engagement

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The future engagement of young citizens from a wide range of socio-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds in democratic politics remains a crucial concern for academics, policy-makers, civics teachers and youth workers around the world. At a time when the negative relationship between socio-economic inequality and levels of political participation is compounded by high youth unemployment or precarious employment in many countries, it is not surprising that new social media communications may be seen as a means to re-engage young citizens. This edited collection explores the influence of social media, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, upon the participatory culture of young citizens. This collection, comprising contributions from a number of leading international scholars in this field, examines such themes as the possible effects of social media use upon patterns of political socialization; the potential of social media to ameliorate young people's political inequality; the role of social media communications for enhancing the civic education curriculum; and evidence for social media manifesting new forms of political engagement and participation by young citizens. These issues are considered from a number of theoretical and methodological approaches but all attempt to move beyond simplistic notions of young people as an undifferentiated category of 'the internet generation'.