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Young people, the Internet, and civic participation: an overview of key findings from the CivicWeb Project

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Amid growing concern about young people's apparent lack of interest and involvement in politics and civil society, many have looked to the Internet for the solution to the problem of civic disconnection. But does the Internet really help to overcome young people's feelings of exclusion, apathy, and lack of motivation, thus improving prospects for democratic citizenship? This article provides an overview of key findings from a pan-European project that set out to address this issue. The CivicWeb project involved three main forms of investigation. First, it looked at the range of websites that seek to promote civic and political participation among young people, particularly focusing on the technological affordances, pedagogies, and ideologies in play on such sites. Second, it explored whether and how young people are involved in civic action on- and offline, their general and specific motivations, and the constraints on their participation. Finally, it addressed issues from the perspective of producers: how might organizations with varying aims and funding models use the Web more effectively to promote civic education, engagement, and action among a broader spectrum of young people? This paper provides an overview of the cross-cutting findings from surveys and textual case studies of youth civic websites in seven European countries, surveys and focus groups with several thousand young people, and in-depth interviews with 85 civic website producers. The conclusions provide challenges to many current orthodoxies about young people, about the Internet, and about civic participation.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/29543/1/Young_People_the_Internet_and_Civic_Participation_%28publisher%29.pdf

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