Civic and Political E-Participation of Young Immigrants: ‘Digital Hope’ for Inclusion?

Civic and Political E-Participation of Young Immigrants: ‘Digital Hope’ for Inclusion?

Carla Malafaia, Maria Fernandes-Jesus, Norberto Ribeiro, Tiago Neves, Joaquim Luís Coimbra, Isabel Menezes
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/jep.2013010103
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The internet is considered as an important forum to empower and engage groups outside the traditional political systems. However, the ‘digital divide’ might imply several disparities and even reinforce exclusion of those with low economic and cultural capital. This article intends to question how democratic and inclusive this virtual public sphere is and in which terms the new dynamics in contemporary societies encourage mobility by excluded groups. Through quantitative methodology, we sought to analyse the differences between migrant (Angolans and Brazilians) and non-migrant groups in Portugal, as well as the e-participation forms adopted by them and the factors that could predict such participation. This is essential towards a wider knowledge about this field, strengthening the understanding concerning the ambivalence about the potential of the internet as a space for the inclusion of groups at risk of exclusion from participation and, consequently from real citizenship.
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Current Debates On Youth Participation

Civic and political participation has become a very trendy subject in scientific research (e.g.: Blais & Dobrzynska, 1998; Dalton, 2000; Putnam, 2000; Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins, & Delli Carpini, 2006), and many studies concentrate their attention on groups identified as being at risk of exclusion and disempowerment, such as young people, women, migrants and/or ethnic minorities (e.g.: Shaw, 2002; Ahmad & Pinnock, 2007; Marsh, O’Toole, & Jones, 2007; Harris, Wyn, & Younes, 2010). However, some scholars emphasize that changes in attitudes toward politics nowadays must be acknowledged, particularly because young people are clearly transforming their relationship with the political sphere, and traditional forms of political engagement and participation are no longer viewed as attractive (Norris, 2002; Zukin et al., 2006). Therefore, claims about the apathy and disengagement of today’s youth are not considering the full extent of the phenomena, and the discussion about the decline in conventional forms of participation (Dalton, 2000) must be complemented with signs of emergence of other (new) forms of participation, probably related to the distrust caused by traditional mechanisms of participation (Norris, 2002).

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