Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action
Prof. Joseph Kahne of Mills College and Cathy J. Cohen of the University of Chicago recently surveyed 3,000 American youth aged 15-25. Their goal was to explore how young people are engaging in participatory politics, specifically acts that are interactive, peer-based, and do not defer to elites or formal institutions. Their findings are relevant to both the long-term political picture in America but also to the upcoming 2012 election. Here are several key findings (here’s a PDF of the full report):
- Young people are engaged in participatory political acts across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines: 43% of white, 41% of black, 38% of Latino and 36% of Asian American youth have engaged in at least one act of participatory politics during the prior 12 months.
- Contrary to common expectations, young people who use the Internet and social media to pursue interests in hobbies, sports, entertainment, and gaming were five times as likely to engage in participatory politics as those who infrequently engaged in these interest-driven online activities.
- Taking into account participatory politics, institutional politics, and voting black youth are the most engaged of all: Only 25% of black youth report no engagement in any form of political behavior, compared to 33% of whites, 40% of Asian American and 43% of Latinos.
- Youth get their news from participatory channels but worry about its credibility: 84% of respondents said they would benefit from learning more about how to tell if news and information found online is trustworthy.