All I know is that I know nothing’: (Some) Danish adolescents and their lack of self- confidence in relation to information and political participation

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Abstract

‘All I know is that I know nothing’: (Some) Danish adolescents and their lack of self-confidence in relation to information and political participation
This paper focuses on the question of young Danes and their self-perception related to their level of information about societal matters and participation in political debates. Some adolescents find themselves lacking of information, insights, and influence, which again leads to a negative democratic self-confidence. They express negative awareness about getting a major proportion of their information through multiple fragmented sources such as social media. Interestingly, social media are not often used for debate and statements of opinions and positions. Especially Facebook is increasingly mainly an entrance platform for information about social relations but also about everything else, that matters in adolescents’ everyday life.
In parallel to adolescents’ own experience, we see a prominent media discourse as well as research focus on what is labelled something on a scale from youth political apathy and fatigue to the ego-centered youth with a narrow individualistic focus on own interests. The question, however, is if it is possible to label a generation as uninterested in political debate or the reverse? If the question is not only if young people are motivated to seek information and to debate, rather, if they have the opportunities to feel competent and included? If the traditional understandings of what political debate, participation and engaged citizenship is may be discouraging for young citizens? If the pronounced distrust in social media in relation to information and debate is influenced more by normative values and less on the actual opportunities and qualities? And, if the discourses about the selfish, individualized adolescent, add to a lack of what I call democratic self-consciousness in the young citizens?
The argument in the paper is based on findings from a DECIDIS survey (2015) on Danes, social media, and political engagement and on two pilot studies. The pilot studies comprehend two qualitative studies from 2016 on 18-20 year old Danes, social media, information, and perceptions of democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Publication date28 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2016
EventSMID Sammenslutningen af Medieforskere i Danmark - Hindsgavl Slot, Middelfart, Denmark
Duration: 27 Oct 201628 Oct 2016
http://www.smid.dk/2016/05/10/smids-aarsmoede-2016/

Conference

ConferenceSMID Sammenslutningen af Medieforskere i Danmark
LocationHindsgavl Slot
Country/TerritoryDenmark
CityMiddelfart
Period27/10/201628/10/2016
Internet address

Keywords

  • Adolescent political participation
  • Democratic self-confidence
  • Social media influence
  • Youth civic engagement
  • Information fragmentation

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