Constructing Australian youth online: empowered but dutiful citizens?

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    This paper investigates whether youth-oriented websites can create new spaces for civic and political engagement. Through engagement with two areas of recent debate: the emergence of new forms of political participation through the internet and work on civic youth web spheres, it suggests that the national discursive context matters in understanding the availability of online civic opportunities. General findings show that young people are no longer labelled as politically apathetic, but have, instead, rejected institutionalized politics to focus on creating new spaces for everyday politics through local communities and the internet. However, this field tends to ignore diversity in political practices and preferences among young people and the continuing importance of official discourses in shaping opportunities for participation and engagement. In the Australian case, the state has remained a powerful actor, guiding young people into preferred forms of participation and has only had a limited foray into using innovative and interactive online mechanisms. Through content analysis of a mixture of government and community organization-led sites, that are either wholly online or tied to established offline organizations, this paper shows that a discourse and practice of managed, dutiful citizenship remains prevalent among sites aimed at the Australian youth. The sites that offer alternative, self-actualizing forms of citizenship expression and action for young people tend to be youth-led, online only, and receive advertising, rather than government-based, funding.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)959-980
    JournalInformation Communication and Society
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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