The International Communication Association (ICA) is in London this week. The NPCU's James Sloam took part in a pre-conference workshop on The Political Communication of Young People through Social Media. The workshop was organised by Brian D. Loader (University of York, UK), Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney, Australia) and Michael Xenos (University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA). Participants included W. Lance Bennett & Alexandra Segerberg talking about connective action, Liesbet van Zoonen on Islam and virtual battlegrounds, and Stephen Coleman on the Youth Amplified project.
Here is a summary of James's paper. For the full paper email him on James.Sloam@rhul.ac.uk.
‘“The Outraged Young”: Young Europeans, Civic Engagement and the Social Media in a Time of Crisis’
James Sloam (Royal Holloway University of London)
In almost all established democracies engagement in traditional political institutions has declined in recent decades, leading to what some have seen as a crisis in citizenship. This trend is most striking amongst young people, who have become increasingly alienated from mainstream electoral politics in Europe. At the same time, young Europeans have become increasingly marginalised by and from public policy since the onset of the global financial crisis: from worsening levels of child poverty, to spiralling youth unemployment, to cuts in youth services and education budgets, to increased university tuition fees. Nevertheless, there is overwhelming evidence to show that young people are not apathetic about ‘politics’ – they have their own views and engage in democracy in a wide variety of ways relevant to their everyday lives. In this context, the rise and proliferation of protest politics amongst young Europeans is hardly surprising. Indeed, youth activism has become a major feature of the European political landscape: from the Occupy movement against the excesses of global capitalism, to mass demonstrations of the ‘outraged young’ (the ‘indignados’) against political corruption and youth unemployment, to growth in support for ‘pirate parties’ in defence of individual freedom. This paper will examine the role that the social media has played in the development of these protest movements across the continent.