The Remaking of Citizens: Media, Civic Participation and Learning. Lecture at UCT by David Buckingham

We’re hosting the following public lecture at the Centre for Film and Media Studies next week:

The Remaking of Citizens: Media, Civic Participation and Learning.

David Buckingham

Loughborough University, UK

In most Western democracies, young people are seen to be disaffected from civic and political life. Yet while television has been accused of contributing to apathy and alienation, the internet has been proclaimed as a means of stimulating participation and regenerating public debate. In this presentation, I will look back to some older research on children and television, and draw on some more recent work on a large pan-European research project about young people, the internet and civic participation. I will be taking a critical look at the evidence for such claims, but I also want to challenge the terms of this debate, in terms of the dominant constructions of young people, of technology and of citizenship. I will suggest that technology alone will not address the fundamental causes of young people’s disengagement: rather, we need to address more basic issues of social power and inequality, and identify the forms of motivation and competence that young people need to develop if they are to become active citizens.


TIME: 4.00PM – 4.45PM


David Buckingham is Professor of Media and Communications at Loughborough University, UK. His research focuses on children and young people’s interactions with electronic media, and on media education. His recent books include Beyond Technology: Children’s Learning in the Age of Digital Culture (2007); Global Children, Global Media; Migration, Media and Childhood (2007); Video Cultures: Media Technology and Everyday Creativity (2009); and The Material Child: Growing Up in Consumer Culture (2011).

Read-Write-Erase: Mobile-mediated publics in South Africa’s 2009 elections

I’m presenting a paper today with Jonathan Donner about the role of mobile Internet in the SA 2009 elections, at the International Conference on Mobile Communication and Social Policy, at the Center for Mobile Communication Studies, Rutgers University.

The conference has been a wonderful way to meet social scientists and humanities scholars studying mobile communication around the world. Kudos to James Katz and the organisers for their success in attracting scholars from such a wide range of countries (20) – we should definitely make sure that there is a larger African contingent at the next meeting.  Here is a prepublication draft of the paper, prepared on 22 September 2009. It has corrections added after we submitted the paper, and additional changes and edits are possible, so please check with us before citing. Comments welcome.

‘This paper describes four kinds of mobile mediated political participation observed during the 2009 national elections in South Africa: (1) SMS ‘wars’ in the run-up to the election; (2) .mobi websites hosted by political parties; and the political content included on (3) the mobile social network Mig33 and excluded from (4) its counterpart/competitor, MXit. We discuss the failure of all four forms to support the emergence of a networked or mediated public, and consider how particular properties of the mobile internet, vs. the ‘traditional’ internet, are partially responsible.’