YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

Production & Circulation

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Production & Circulation - Youth produce and circulate news and information about issues that matter to them and help shape the broader narrative. 


Prior to the digital age, institutions ranging from political parties, to churches, to interest groups, such as the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club, produced content and used their membership lists to widely distribute political messages. Today, social media platforms make large-scale production and circulation of messages cheaper, more scalable, and less dependent on formal organizations or institutions. 


With relative ease, compared to the past, young people can now write and disseminate a blog about a political issue, remix a political video and share it with their social network, or produce a wiki with information about community resources. Communication

scholars have argued that such peer-based production can be politically empowering and politically influential in raising awareness and mobilizing others (see reference 1). In addition, youth easily circulate news through participatory channels. 45 percent of youth in the 2011 YPP survey reported getting news at least once a week from family and friends via Twitter or Facebook feeds. This rivals the 49 percent who got news at least once in the past week from newspapers or magazines. 


Civic educators can help youth reflect on a variety of risks that come along with these practices. For example, given the diminished role played by gatekeepers in vetting the style and content of information and given the increased permanence and public nature of statements they might make and circulate, youth must also now carefully consider what to circulate and to whom.



EPP Resources with a Production & Circulation Focus


For an expanded discussion of this and other EPP practices see:

Redesigning Civic Education for the Digital Age: Participatory Politics and the Pursuit of Democratic Engagement by Joseph Kahne, Erica Hodgin & Elyse Eidman-Aadahl





Common Historical Practices Expanded Practices in the Digital Age New Opportunties for Youth Potential Risks Implications for Edcuators

The production of ideas and media was largely limited to elites and "professionals" within organizations and institutions.

Accessible digital tools enable youth to engage in production  ranging  from creating a video to building their own website.


There are new and expanded opportunities for youth to contribute to the flow of information and to shape the narrative around civic and political issues.

When working with limited resources, civic and political production projects can require an intensive amount of work over a long period of time that is increasingly unsustainable (see 2). 

Support youth to engage in

Use of digital tools and platforms for transmedia production

Youth were primarily consumers in relation to production. Exceptions included small scale activities possibly provided through school, youth organizations, or volunteering with an organization.


Youth have voice and agency in spaces where they can also produce ideas and media



Strategic use of the appropriate tools and the best use of tools






Determining how to craft persuasive messages that will reach a targeted audience




Common Historical Practices Expanded Practices in the Digital Age New Opportunties for Youth Potential Risks Implications for Educators

The spread of information happened through structured civic and political organizations via mass mailings, flyers, posters, etc.

Information can be spread through participatory channels such as, Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia.

Youth have increased opportunities for voice, agency, and creative expression through sharing information and their points of view.


The nuances of an issue get lost when a message is trimmed and simplified to circulate quickly and broadly (see 2).

Support youth to engage in: 

The use of digital tools and platforms for multimedia circulation

Organizations and the media chose "experts" and "leaders" to speak on a topic and talk about its civic implications.

Social networks share and circulate information to an expanded audience by "liking," forwarding, commenting, and remixing information.

Youth help determine what information and views their peers are exposed to.

Exposure to new information and ideas is limited by filter bubbles and one's social networks (see 3).

Tapping social networks to circulate information and messages



Youth now have the ability to reach an expanded audience outside of an organizational structure using digital tools and online networks.

The digital afterlife of a message can take on a different shape or direction than was initially intended (see 2).


Determining how to go public and cultivate an expanding online audience for the spread of information or one's view points





Surveillance is increasingly possible as increased personal expression in online spaces can easily be tracked and traced (see 4).

Supporting: Predicting possible outcomes of civic and political activity, the footprint it may leave, and the digital afterlife.




For a Printer Friendly version of the above charts, click here: Redesigning Civic Education for the Digital Age - Charts



1. Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel. M., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [Occasional paper on digital media and learning]. Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


2. Soep, E. (2014). Participatory politics: Next-generation tactics to remake the public sphere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from http://ypp.dmlcentral.net/publications/201.


3. Pariser, E. (2012). The filter bubble: How the new personalized web is changing what we read and how we think, Reprint edition. New York, NY: Penguin Books.


4. Shresthova, S. (2013). Between storytelling and surveillance: American Muslim youth negotiate culture, politics and participation [YPP Working Paper]. Retrieved from http://ypp.dmlcentral.net/publications/161.