Changing citizenship in the digital age

Changing citizenship in the digital age

It is clear that many young citizens of this digital and global age have demonstrated interests in making contributions to society. Yet the challenge of engaging effectively with politics linked to spheres of government is difficult for most. A casual look at world democracies suggests that many of the most established ones are showing signs of wear. Parties are trying to reinvent themselves while awkwardly staying the course that keeps them in power. In the press, in everyday conversation, and often from the mouths of politicians, politics has become a dirty word rather than a commonly accepted vocabulary for personal expression. 1 And so, younger generations are disconnecting from conventional politics and government in alarming numbers. These trends in youth dissatisfaction with conventional political engagement are not just occurring in the United States, but have parallels in other democracies as well, including Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 2 At the same time, many observers properly note that there are impressive signs of youth civic engagement in nongovernmental areas, including increases in community volunteer work, high levels of consumer activism, and strong involvement in social causes from the environment to economic injustice in local and global arenas. 3 Some even see civic engagement in online social networking and entertainment communities. For example, Henry Jenkens, Cathy Davidson, Mimi Ito, and Jochai Benkler argue that many forms of shared activity online (from blogging, to conflict and protest behavior in gaming, fan and entertainment sites) represent forms of civic or media engagement. 4

 

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