Joyce Neys: Empowered Citizens: How New Media Facilitate Civic Engagement

Joyce Neys | Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of Media & Communication | Promotor: Jeroen Jansz | Sept 2010 – Sept 2015 | neys[at]eshcc[dot]eur[dot]nl

This research project aims to investigate how citizens use different forms of new media as a political tool. In particular, I am interested in citizens who create their own media content, such as online political video games, political remix videos and machinimas. These forms of user-generated content (UGC) are seen as creative works that are often embedded in a framework of popular culture. By reappropriating this material, either through remixing with own material, news footage, or gameplay for example, a new critical reading is created in the form of a social and/or political commentary about a certain issue relevant to the creator. As such, this type of UGC can be regarded a specific expression of civic engagement or civic talk. However, up until now, little research has been conducted from this perspective. I am interested to find out more about the creator’s intentions and motivations to participate in public debate in this way. First of all, I want to shed light on who creates this content and how the act of creation relates to creators’ own civic engagement. Furthermore, I will investigate why creators chose this particular medium to express themselves and not another as well as explore what developers and creators expect, if anything, in terms of effects on their viewers and players. Another important part of this project will focus on viewers and players. Firstly, it is important to identify who consume and use these texts as they are usually not (yet) main stream. A larger focus, however, is put on the exploration of how (to what extent and for how long) watching and playing with such content affects civic engagement. Finally, other factors (i.e. political interest, topic) that might be of importance in the further facilitation of civic engagement will be taken into account as well. In doing so, the aim is to contribute to a further understanding of notions of Empowerment and Citizenship taking contemporary activities as a point of departure.

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