May
24

Mascheroni, Giovanna, Remediating Participation and Citizenship Practices on Social Network Sites

Mascheroni, Giovanna, Remediating Participation and Citizenship Practices on Social Network Sites, in: MedienJournal 3/2010, 22 - 35

Being mainstream places where a variety of online practices converge and are integrated,
social network sites have also witnessed the emergence of grassroots and topdown
political uses: from candidates’ and parties’ profiles, to single-issues campaigns’
discussion groups, to petitions and forms of ‘political fandom’, political content is now
a constant presence in social media. Since social network sites are pervasive in young
people’s everyday lives, questions of the efficacy of the internet in engaging disaffected
youth and expanding the opportunities for participation are under debate. This paper
discusses the findings of a qualitative study aimed at investigating political uses of social
network sites and emerging practices of online participation among Italian youth.
Participatory uses of social network sites are unevenly distributed among young
people: political content tends often to be incorporated as identity marker, while other
young people actively engage in citizenship practices online. Therefore, it is argued,
civic and political uses of social media have to be contextualised in young people’s
every day lives, especially in their ‘civic cultures’ and in the particular ‘convergent media
ecology’ in which they are immersed. Depending on the civic cultures young
people form and shape, and the digital literacy they develop, political uses are either
a further outcome of networked individualism or the signal of new modes of participation
which is mainly grassroots, non conventional and concerning identity and lifestyle
choices.