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.

Digital Activism, Global Dimensions
  • Project Description

    Digital Activism, Global Dimensions (DAGD), led by Network member Ethan Zuckerman, is a set of case studies designed to explore the dynamics of activism in the age of digital communications. Recognizing that much of the existing academic work on digital activism focused on high development nations, the project focused primarily on countries where internet penetration was below 50%, as per ITU statistics. Digital activism in these nations tended to involve mobile technologies as well as internet tools, often focused on interactions between activists in country and in the diaspora and often combining online and offline media to reach wider audiences. By examining success and failure stories in close detail, the project worked to understand ways in which civic engagement through digital media was similar to and different from online civic engagement in more connected nations, and to understand characteristics and trends that cut across particularities of nation and language to characterize the larger space of digital civic engagement. The project method was to coordinate self-reporting to collect information on projects around the world. Many successful digital activism projects involved one or more young academics, who often documented their experiences with their projects as a way of sharing lessons learned. Project leaders examined case studies of youth-led digital activism and developed a taxonomy of efforts previously undertaken and then underway. Looking for examples that represented different aspects of the taxonomy (or which challenged the assumptions behind it), project leaders invited organizers of projects recently completed and then underway to document their experiences. By connecting organizers to one another and to a possible structure for understanding the dynamics of these projects, DAGD developed a set of case studies in dialog with activists, using – to whatever degree possible - common language, terminology and frameworks to understand the dynamics at work in digital activism.