In this digital age, we have experienced truly dramatic changes in our political expectations and practices. Individuals and groups seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern. Social network sites, websites, and texts serve increasingly as conduits for political information and major public arenas where citizens express and exchange their political ideas. They raise funds, mobilize others to vote, protest, and work on public issues. Young people, in particular, are among those who benefit most from these changes. As natural digital beings, young people have arisen as the main actors in a digital civic-political sphere.
Whether you’re creating your first Facebook page to support a cause you care about, or seeking to engage your friends, associates, and even strangers in a new platform aimed to achieve civic ends, these ten questions will help frame your decisions. Use them to shape your strategy and to check whether you’re doing everything in your power to achieve maximum impact. These principles have been developed on the basis of national research (by the MacArthur Foundation research network on youth and participatory politics) on experiences and structures that support young people’s agency with respect to matters of public concern.
Rather than a list of to-dos, we opted to form a framework for thoughtful practice. The framework is based on 10 key questions. With these principles, we seek to help change-makers get smarter about the best use of digital tools and platforms for their specific efforts, based on what we’ve learned from youth-driven campaigns and organizations pursuing a hugely diverse range of civic and political activities, “By Any Media Necessary” (as the Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics crew says!) across the US. We seek to cultivate nimbleness in the people who use these principles––not entrenched practices but the capacity to adjust and pivot as circumstances change, which they always do.
Here, we run through the ten principles displayed on the menu to the right. Each one is an example that will serve as a mini case-study to spotlight what that principle can look like in action. Youth Radio is working on a series of interviews with each of the case study exemplars that we’ll share alongside the principles themselves (Youth Radio is a youth-driven multimedia production organization located in Oakland, California. See more at https://youthradio.org.)