A Dramaturgical Approach to Online Activism within Youth Empowerment Organizations

Farnaz Irannejad Bisafar, Brooke Foucault Welles, Andrea G Parker
NSF Public Access Repository
January 1, 2020


Social Networking Sites (SNS) offer youth activists and youth empowerment organizations (where adults help youth address community issues) opportunities for civic action. Impression management is critical to youth empowerment organizations' work online, as they attempt to influence the opinions of their audience. However, there is a dearth of research characterizing online impression management in the context of youth empowerment organizations. To address this research gap, we conducted a qualitative study investigating the use of SNS in a youth empowerment organization. Using Goffman's dramaturgical model, we characterized how youth tried to hack SNS algorithms, and their desire to better identify their audience. Our findings reveal how youth use SNS to create authentic images and connections with their audience. On the other hand, we discuss adults' desire to convey a curated organizational image and challenges that arose. We conclude with design implications for tools that support impression management online for youth activists.

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