CONSTRUCTING YOUNG SELVES IN A DIGITAL MEDIA ECOLOGY: Youth cultures, practices and identity

Date(s) - 03/06/2020 - 05/06/2020
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+ info: ICS 2020 Conference

The development of young people’s identities and sense of selfhood is widely recognized as being a social activity undertaken through interaction and feedback with significant others. Advancing beyond earlier top-down models of socialization, whereby parents and teachers were largely seen as responsible for transmitting stable cultural norms, knowledge, political attitudes, religious beliefs and social practices to young people, contemporary understanding has instead foregrounded the active, dynamic, co-construction of young selves. Such approaches have not only drawn attention to the active engagement of young people in shaping their own identities but has also emphasized the wider social, political, economic, cultural contexts that frame the possibilities for the interactive realization of personhood. Most profoundly, and the focus of this international symposium, for the current generation of young people, the active construction of self is significantly mediated by and through a digital media ecology of communications networks, algorithms and platforms. These emergent networked environments have led to celebrations about the potential to enhance the development of young selves through wider access to knowledge, cultures, beliefs, identities and the opportunities to perform such self-formation through online interaction with diverse others. But it has also produced moral panics for those concerned about the perceived negative effects of digital media, such as attention deficit, the break-down of authority, dumbing down of education, infantilizing politics, and the weakening of traditional family ties.

Premised upon a notion of youth as a social construction, as well as upon its permeability, and taking into account how young people – whether as young children, tweens, teenagers, or late twentysomething, whether in the West or outside of it- are growing up with significant access to globalized media and transmedia platforms and narratives, this two-day international symposium will critically investigate the issues presented by the construction of young selves within the contemporary digital media ecology. With the aim to grasp the complexity and diversity of most young people’s experiences and practices with online technologies, we invite original research findings and theoretical analysis addressing (though not exclusively) such questions as:

· What role for young people do traditional markers of identity such as social class, religion, family, or geography play in online group interaction?

· As increasingly more young people find themselves geographically dispersed and living transitional lives in immigrant communities or in refugee camps, what kind of possibilities for connectedness, dialogue and identity-making online technologies have to offer?

· What value are social media platforms for gay, transgender, queer, atheist, or differently abled young people as spaces for socialization?

· How much are young people’s political norms and engagement practices facilitated by digital communication?

· How does everyday online engagement affect interaction between young people and significant others such parents, teachers and other traditional ‘authority’ figures?

· Does social networking influence learning practices, competencies or curriculum design?

· What are young people’s attitudes and actual use of digital media in everyday life?

· How should we assess the significance of celebrity culture for young people’s development of self?

· Are young people more likely to develop a transnational outlook as a consequence of the digital media ecology?