Therapy isn’t enough. I need a dissertation about youth online political participation.
Dissertation proposal
Adina Gitomer
PhD Student, Network Science Institute
Past Talk
Hybrid talk
Tuesday
Jan 16, 2024
Watch video
11:30 am
Virtual
177 Huntington Ave.
11th floor
Online
Register here
Citing low scores on traditional measures of political engagement, American youth are often regarded as politically apathetic, uninformed, and precipitating a broader crisis in democracy; however, this view is increasingly contested. Youth face structural barriers to institutional forms of participation, as political institutions were neither created nor advanced with them in mind. Meanwhile, having grown up with new media technologies and the ability to give direct input and feedback in real time, youth have developed new sensibilities for what participation looks like. These circumstances have led them to take on a distinctly participatory and proactive approach to politics, leveraging digital technologies over formal institutions to shape political narratives and outcomes. The work proposed here examines this turn, focusing on youth political participation in online networks. Using a range of computational and qualitative methods, I unpack the novel ways youth make use of new media for social change, and discuss the methodological implications for its study. I simultaneously reflect on the efficacy of social media as a tool for social change. In the first proposed project, I consider leadership structures in youth digital action networks, and interrogate the extent to which youth activists exploit the possibility of decentralized communication online in order to enact horizontal, “leaderful” movements. In the second, I examine youth engagement in online election discourse and how it challenges standard data collection approaches as well as norms of mainstream political debate. Finally, in the third project, I explore content preferences and circulation strategies among youth in online activist enclaves to understand how they use those spaces to exert their political will. I ultimately position youth political participation online as a force to be reckoned with.
About the speaker
About the speaker
Adina is a 4th year PhD student at Northeastern’s Network Science Institute. She works with Brooke Foucault Welles to research political participation in online communication networks, and how social media interact with + modify social movements. Her work so far has primarily focused on youth, broadly construed. With full appreciation for the harms wrought by the internet, she aims to examine the ways it might be/is leveraged for radically inclusive ends.
Adina is a 4th year PhD student at Northeastern’s Network Science Institute. She works with Brooke Foucault Welles to research political participation in online communication networks, and how social media interact with + modify social movements. Her work so far has primarily focused on youth, broadly construed. With full appreciation for the harms wrought by the internet, she aims to examine the ways it might be/is leveraged for radically inclusive ends.